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I am a single taxpayer making $20,000/year. I have a discount brokerage account full of wantabe Foolish equities and two IRA mutual funds.

1. There is an upper limit to the amount of any traditional IRA contribution I may DEDUCT. What is the upper limit on my TOTAL contribution? Can I contribute more than I earned? What about a Roth?

2. I want my IRA cash in equities. Can I, instead of opening an IRA with cash, transfer a portfolio of equity positions into a self-directed traditional IRA? If so, is $2000 still tax-deductible? Or is nothing deductible since I am transfering equities rather than contributing cash? If it is a Roth, of course, there is no deduction regardless - correct?

3. I have a traditional IRA mutual fund account and want to get money out of this underperforming fund and into a Roth IRA portfolio of overperforming stocks by doing a “trustee to trustee” transfer. Since a Roth IRA is “front loaded”, how would the load get paid?

4. Being self-directed, suppose I liquidate (sell) a stock position in a Roth IRA account in order to balance my portfolio, generate cash for another stock purchase, whatever, but NOT with the intent to take a distribution. Can I do this before 5 years is up? That is, does the cash generated constitute a distribution? Can the money generated stay in the Roth awaiting a future investment? But it says here a Roth is “front loaded”. Does that imply that I report the income on Schedule D and pay tax on it? Can the money generated by the sale get swept into a money market account earning tax-free interest while awaiting my contemplated purchase of another stock?

5. Perhaps you can see from the above questions what I am driving at. I want to know the tax-related mechanics of maintaining a self-directed IRA account which buys and sells equities.
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