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That first investment will be in the form of an index fund held in a Roth IRA account. Do I need to / Should I wait until after Jan 1 to make this purchase? What are the tax implications of investing prior to / after the new year.

You have the option, but not the obligation, to open an IRA account directly with the fund company that distributes the index fund that interests you. The fund companies prefer direct investors, and they offer services to their direct investors that they don't offer to their indirect investors. Additionally the stock brokerages offer mutual funds as loss leaders. They can modify or terminate their mutual fund programs at any time for any reason.

David Jacobs
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