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I'm going to create an SEP-IRA for 2015, as I had some self employed income that contributed to a high marginal rate tax burden for that year.

However, the amount I'm allowed to contribute from 2015's self employed earnings is just under the preferred minimum for my IRA custodian's investments - it will be literally a few hundred dollars under that minimum. I do have enough self employed income already this year, though, to cover that difference.

If I want to make contributions (and establish the account), do I need to make those contributions separately? Or can I just make a single deposit, and then make clear on my tax returns for 2015 and 2016 which part of that deposit is coming from which year? And if the latter, does my IRA custodian need to know how I'm splitting things across years? I would not be making any nondeductible contributions, it would be 100% deductible, just from two tax years.

If it's relevant, I do have a well-funded regular IRA with the same custodian, though my understanding was that the two kinds of IRAs have to be kept in separate accounts and so that shouldn't be relevant. The amount in the separate account is definitely not relevant when it comes to investment minimums (I asked the custodian).

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The details of this depend on your IRA provider. Call them up and they will tell you.

I use Fidelity for my solo 401(k), and they have a separate box for contributions for last year and this year, but on the same form. I believe they prefer separate checks as well. Fidelity requires deposits for this type of account by paper check. But I am sure this varies by provider. Some will have an online form and take ACH deposits, for example. They will all have a way for you to designate how much of the money is for this year and how much is for last.

Either way, I'm sure you will have no problem contributing for last year and this year right now and having all the money apply toward investment minimums. If you have any issues, change providers.

EDIT: By the way, I'm also quite sure your provider will have no problem with you making a SEP contribution, and then immediately rolling the money into your existing IRA as a non-reportable transaction. At least, pretty much every provider will do that, so if yours doesn't you should think about changing.

  • I agree with this. The key will be to talk to you provider. They'll want to get all of your money. Mostly,the 2015 vs 2016 issue is just doing the right paperwork. It's the total amount invested that they'll like. – Peter K. Mar 30 '16 at 19:58
  • So, the answer to "does the provider care" is "probably yes"? IE the provider does need to know which year it's from? (I'm not very familiar with how much reporting they have to do on these kinds of accounts.) – Joe Mar 30 '16 at 20:24
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    For individual contributions, yes. However, now that I think about it, the Fidelity guy told me that for employer contributions (which SEP contributions are), they don't actually report to the IRS which year the contribution is for. The IRS gets that info from your filing. So they may not need to know. Again, you need to call them to find out. (see fidelity example: fidelity.com/bin-public/060_www_fidelity_com/documents/…) – farnsy Mar 30 '16 at 20:35

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