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I've been doing a fair amount of reading on both SIMPLE and SEP IRAs of late and was under the impression that the $5000 was not a firm requirement.

According the Pub 560:
"You can use less restrictive eligibility requirements (but not more restrictive ones) by eliminating or reducing the prior year compensation requirements, the current year compensation requirements, or both. For example, you can allow participation for employees who received at least $3,000 in compensation during any preceding calendar year. However, you cannot impose any other conditions on participating in a SIMPLE IRA plan."

To my reading, the phrase "by eliminating" seems to suggest that you can just go for it this year.

Just a thought...
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