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About two weeks ago, I opened a Roth IRA account and bought into a fund with $3000, the minimum investment. I designated the contribution as for the 2013 tax year. However, looking over my 2013 IRA contributions, I realized I had made a contribution into a Roth IRA at a different bank at the beginning of the year that I had forgotten about. This pushes me about $1500 over the $5500 yearly limit.

I've seen various stuff about "recharacterizations", but that seems to be talking about recharacterizing a contributon from one type of IRA to another. What I would ideally like to do is to just redesignate part of my $3000 contribution into a different tax year (2014). Is this possible? Or would I actually have to withdraw the $1500 from the fund and immediately buy back in, designating the new contribution for 2014?

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One of the ways to fix it is to do nothing, and pay 6% penalty on the excess. That would cost you $90, and you'll report the excess of 2013 as a contribution in 2014 and will learn not to make such mistakes again.

Another way is to talk to your IRA custodian and see what they can do about it. The most trivial thing is to physically withdraw and then re-contribute the excess. You will be taxed on the earnings attributed to the excess amount as ordinary income, but if you just made the deposit - there are likely to be very little earnings.

See instructions to form 5329 on these two options, it has to be attached to your return for 2013 and 2014 (depending on the scenario chosen).

Your IRA custodian may have more ways to resolve this, you should call them and ask. For example, they may attribute it to the correct year (since you did contribute it in 2014, I see no legal reason for them not to, only technical) and report it to the IRS as such (the 2013 form 5498 is due in May, so there's definitely time for that, if there's will).

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