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<< 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% bracke>>

That's the route to go to save some tax dollars over the next four years. You still can get $4K into Roth IRAs this year and the tax on the $2K non-deductible won't be all that great when you convert it. Just remember you only have until April 15 to get the money in the nondeductible IRA for 1997.

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