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Ok, here's a simple question, but I can't find the answer. It's plastered all over the Fool's home page, and elsewhere, that you can contribute to an IRA through April 15, next Monday. But what does that really mean? Can you mail off a new account application, with check, as long as it's postmarked no later then Monday? Or must a new account have been opened and funded by then, with confirming paperwork from a mutual fund (or bank, brokerage, whatever) dated the 15th or earlier?

In theory tax law requires only that it be postmarked by midnight 4/15. However, I wouldn't want to take the chance. If I were up against the deadline I'd open it at a local bank, not investing in a time deposit. Then you can do a rollover at your leisure.

The reason I ask is that I am trying, and have been trying for 6-7 months now, to give one of my kids $2000 for a 2001 IRA contribution. All my other kids have accepted my largesse, but this one is just "too busy" to be bothered. Go figure.

Not that I'd even consider meddling in your no doubt nonpareil parenting, but this might be a great opportunity to let the others "nyah nyah" the recalcitrant one. Guess who'd be at the head of the line the next time you made such a generous offer.

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