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Thanks for the instant reply! I was still reading the board when it was posted.

I understand, alas: since the Roth conversion would all be taxed as ordinary income, it makes no sense for me to do it when I don't have other cash with which to pay the tax, especially since it would kick me into a higher tax bracket.

Would it make any sense to make a deductible IRA contribution for 1997 and then convert it to Roth in 1998? It happens that '98 is the year in which I expect to earn the least, so it's possibly to my advantage to pay the tax on the conversion from '97 only (which would hardly have appreciated at all) rather than make the '97 contribution non-deductible.
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