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Thanks again.

Yes, the idea would be to contribute $2,000 to a Roth in 1998, in addition to converting the 1997 conventional IRA.

So is it mandatory to spread the conversion income over four years? I think I will be in the 15% bracket for 1998, but maybe not in 1999 or thereafter. (It depends on whether I get a full-time job after I graduate from this program in 1999, or work on yet another degree.)

Of course paying the tax on a $2,000 conversion is different from paying the tax on a $40,000 conversion. Or I could simply not deduct the 1997 contribution - that would make sense if I'm not sure how long after 1998 I'll still be in the 15% bracket.
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