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2. Are contributions based on the calendar year or tax year. In other words, am I able to contribute $2000 in 12/01 and $3000 in 1/02, or $2000 in 3/02 and $3000 in 5/02?

When you contribute to an IRA, you must designate which year the contribution is for. So, you can only contribute $2000 designated for year 2001, and $3000 designated for year 2002. If you don't designate the year, your custodian will choose one.

There are restrictions on the date of designation. For say, year 2001, you are allowed to designate contributions for 2001 if you contribute between January 1, 2001 and April 15, 2002. For 2002 the date range is January 1,2002 to April 15, 2002. That's right -- the "IRA year" is 15.5 months long, and consecutive IRA years overlap.

So both of the situations you mentioned would be legal, as long as you designated the $2000 for year 2001, and the $3000 for year 2002, and didn't designate any other contributions for those years.
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