What does `IRA' mean? You may be surprised

The title of this section is ``Your IRA.'' Quickly, what does the acronym stand for? If you said ``individual retirement account,'' you're among the vast majority of people. That's also the way you'll see it in advertisements for banks, brokerages, and mutual funds -- even in the prospectuses and other legal documents these firms write.

But the official title (sort of) is ``individual retirement arrangement,'' the name that was used in the 1974 legislation that made IRAs available to people who did not have a company pension.

Within an individual retirement arrangement you can have an individual retirement account, an individual retirement annuity, or both.

Actually, says an Internal Revenue Service spokesman, it doesn't matter whether you say arrangement or account, since both are used interchangeably -- even within the IRS.

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