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Greetings, Bryanschmidt1, and welcome. You asked:

<<My question is this. Can I contribute pre-tax dollars to an IRA by notifying my payroll department? If yes or no, why? (other than that's what the IRS says).>>

Unless your employer has agreed to an automatic payroll deduction for remittance to an IRA provider on your behalf and you have established an IRA with that provider, the answer is no, you can't do that. Typically, you would establish the IRA with a provider of your choice and make any deposits yourself. Your employer is almost never involved with that kind of transaction.

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