Tax Tips: Contribute Early to IRAs

When making your contribution to a traditional or Roth IRA by mail make sure you clearly identify the tax year to which you want the contribution applied.

You have until April 15, the initial filing deadline, to make a contribution to an IRA for the previous year.  So you have until April 15, 2010, to make a contribution to an IRA for 2009.

However, it is “more better” to make your IRA contribution as early in the year as possible. Make your 2010 contribution sometime this month. By making your contribution for the year in January, instead of waiting until April 15, 2011, you will have substantially more in the account by the time you are ready to retire.

If you are making a contribution in 2010 for tax year 2009 be sure to write “2009 IRA contribution” clearly in the memo section of the check. If you are enclosing a payment voucher or coupon provided by the trustee make sure that the correct tax year is marked. Follow up by checking your next IRA account statement to verify that the contribution was applied to the proper year. If you find that the contribution was applied to the wrong tax year contact the trustee immediately.

Your IRA trustee will send a notice of the contribution to the IRS.  If the trustee reports a contribution in the wrong year you may be getting a letter from “Uncle Sam” down the road asking you for more money.

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