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So how do you make the contribution for the right amount?

Simple - you do your tax return so you know your AGI for Roth purposes.

Do people have to wait until after they finish preparing their return and rush to make the contribution before Apr 15?

That would be one way. Another is to make the full contribution early in the year, then withdraw or recharacterize the excess (plus earnings, of course) once the return is done.

As long as the contribution money itself is ready, it's really not much of a rush to make a Roth contribution. You could walk into virutally any branch of any bank and have a Roth set up and contribution made in less than an hour. Once there, you can always do a trustee-to-trustee transfer to the place you really want the money.

Or if the Roth is already set up, you can make a contribution on even less notice. Most custodians send a contribution form with every statement. Mail it back with your check, and the deed is done. For the internet-savvy, you can initiate a funds transfer from some custodians' web sites. And there's always a phone call to a real person, with your banking information in hand to initiate a funds transfer the old-fashioned way.

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