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Publication 590

When Can Contributions 
Be Made?(p11)

As soon as you open your traditional IRA, contributions can be made to it through your chosen sponsor (trustee or other administrator). Contributions must be in the form of money (cash, check, or money order). Property cannot be contributed.
Although property cannot be contributed, your IRA may invest in certain property. For example, your IRA may purchase shares of stock. For other restrictions on the use of funds in your IRA, see Prohibited Transactions later in this chapter. You may be able to transfer or roll over certain property from one retirement plan to another. See the discussion of rollovers and other transfers later in this chapter under Can You Move Retirement Plan Assets.
You can make a contribution to your IRA by having your income tax refund (or a portion of your refund), if any, paid directly to your traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA. For details, see the instructions for your income tax return or Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account.
Contributions can be made to your traditional IRA for each year that you receive compensation and have not reached age 701/2. For any year in which you do not work, contributions cannot be made to your IRA unless you receive alimony, nontaxable combat pay, military differential pay, or file a joint return with a spouse who has compensation. See Who Can Open a Traditional IRA, earlier. Even if contributions cannot be made for the current year, the amounts contributed for years in which you did qualify can remain in your IRA. Contributions can resume for any years that you qualify.

Contributions must be made by due date.(p12)

Contributions can be made to your traditional IRA for a year at any time during the year or by the due date for filing your return for that year, not including extensions. Because of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, for most people, this means that contributions for 2010 must be made by April 18, 2011, and contributions for 2011 must be made by April 17, 2012.

Age 701/2 rule.(p12)

Contributions cannot be made to your traditional IRA for the year in which you reach age 701/2 or for any later year.
You attain age 701/2 on the date that is six calendar months after the 70th anniversary of your birth. If you were born on or before June 30, 1940, you cannot contribute for 2010 or any later year.

Designating year for which contribution is made.(p12)

If an amount is contributed to your traditional IRA between January 1 and April 18, you should tell the sponsor which year (the current year or the previous year) the contribution is for. If you do not tell the sponsor which year it is for, the sponsor can assume, and report to the IRS, that the contribution is for the current year (the year the sponsor received it).

Filing before a contribution is made.(p12)

You can file your return claiming a traditional IRA contribution before the contribution is actually made. Generally, the contribution must be made by the due date of your return, not including extensions.

Contributions not required.(p12)

You do not have to contribute to your traditional IRA for every tax year, even if you can.