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just curious-- when did that change?

Possibly before I started doing taxes in 1983.

I'm sure that when I was working, if you had 401k, you couldn't contribute to trad.IRA (no?

Yours is a very common error. People confuse making a contribution with getting a deduction.

For the last couple of decades or so, you can always contribute to a traditional IRA if you have earned income, but you couldn't always deduct that contribution. If you have a retirement plan at work - and a 401k is one of many kinds of retirement plans - your ability to deduct an IRA contribution is pretty limited. Currently, the limits are about $90k for married people and $60k for singles. These limits are indexed for inflation, so have been lower in the past.

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