SPOUSAL ROTH IRA: What It Is and How It Is Used

Spousal Roth

Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you can’t save for retirement. As long as your spouse earns taxable income, they can open a tax-advantaged retirement account in your name. This compensation can include a salary, wages, commissions, or self-employment net income. This type of account is known as a “spousal IRA,” It works in the same way as traditional and Spousal Roth individual retirement accounts (IRA). In this post, we will look at the Spousal Roth IRA income contribution limits 2022 rules and how to open a Spousal IRA.

If you file taxes jointly and at least one of you earns enough money to meet the funding requirements for two IRAs, you can both contribute to your own separate Spousal Roth IRA. However, the combined IRA contributions for both cannot exceed the lesser of the taxable compensation reported on your joint tax return or the annual contribution limits on Spousal Roth IRA multiplied by two.

As of December 2021, there is no age limit for contributing to a traditional IRA. Similarly, there is no age limit for contributing to a Roth IRA.

What is a Spousal Roth IRA?

A spousal Roth IRA is an individual retirement account to which a working spouse contributes on behalf of a spouse who earns little or no income. This is an exception to the general rule that one must have made income to contribute to an IRA.

This means nonworking spouses can contribute to a spousal IRA if they file taxes jointly with a working spouse. If each spouse has a Spousal Roth IRA, they can contribute the maximum annual income contribution limits of up to $6,000 in 2022 ($7,000 if age 50 or older).

How Spousal Roth IRAs Work

A spousal Roth IRA is a common name for the IRS rules that allow a spouse who does not work or earn income to fund an individual retirement account. There is no unique IRA for spouses; instead, the rule enables non-working spouses to contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA as long as they file a joint tax return with their working spouse.

Individual retirement accounts established under the rules of the spousal Roth IRA are not co-owned. Both the working and non-working spouses have IRAs in their names. They can be accounts opened for each spouse before they married, funds opened while they were married and both working, or accounts opened by the non-working spouse when they were not working.

The annual contribution limits for spousal Roth IRAs are the same as for other IRAs: $6,000 per individual in 2021 and 2022, or $7,000 for people over 50. A couple with only one working spouse can contribute up to $12,000 per year under the spousal IRA rules, $13,000 if one spouse is 50 or older, or $14,000 if both are 50 or older. Individual annual IRA contribution limits apply to each account.

Spousal Roth IRA Contribution Limits 2022

Contributing to a spousal individual retirement account (IRA) allows married couples to save for retirement even if only one spouse is employed. Individuals who do not have job income cannot generally contribute to tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as IRAs because they do not have “eligible” compensation. There is an exception for married, non-working individuals whose spouses work, as long as they meet specific requirements. Here’s what you should know.

Eligibility for Spousal IRA Contribution Limits

If you are the working spouse and want to contribute to an IRA on behalf of your non-working spouse, you must:

  • Have at least the total spousal IRA contribution, plus your own IRA contribution (if any). Wages, salaries, tips, commissions, nontaxable combat pay, and self-employment income are all eligible compensation for Spousal Roth IRA contribution limits.
  • File a joint tax return with your spouse.

Age limits

There are no age limits on making a Spousal Roth IRA contribution. (Such limitations used to apply to traditional IRAs, but that changed in 2019.)

However, it’s worth noting that Roth IRA account holders must have had a Roth for at least five years for their withdrawals to be tax-free. Younger taxpayers will not be affected, but older taxpayers should plan accordingly.

Traditional and Spousal Roth IRA Contribution Limits 2023

The individual contribution limit for traditional and Spousal Roth IRAs in 2023 is the lesser of:

  • $6,000 per year for those under the age of 50 as of the end of the year, and $7,000 for those 50 and older, or
  • 100% of all eligible compensation

If both of you are 50 or older, you can contribute those amounts to your and your spouse’s IRAs for $14,000.

It is important to note that these are the maximum amounts you can contribute for the year, regardless of how many IRAs you have. For example, if you have both a traditional and a Roth IRA, you could put $3,000 in each.

Compensation Limits

There are no income limits on traditional Spousal Roth IRA contributions, though people with incomes above a certain level may be unable to deduct their contributions. IRS Publication 590-A explains these rules in detail.

However, income limits exist if you want to contribute to a Spousal Roth IRA for your spouse (or yourself). For 2023, a married couple filing a joint tax return and earning up to $204,000 in modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) can contribute the total amount to their Roth IRAs.

Couples earning between $204,000 and $214,000 per year can make partial Roth contributions. If their combined income exceeds $214,000, they are no longer eligible for a Spousal Roth IRA.

What Are the Rules for a Spousal IRA?

There are several important rules to remember when it comes to spousal IRAs:

  • The account owner remains the same regardless of who funds the account. When contributing to spousal IRAs, irrespective of where the contributions come from, each spouse remains the named account owner of their IRA. The spouse who owns the IRA has sole authority over asset allocation, beneficiaries, and withdrawals.
  • To be eligible, married couples must file a joint tax return. Spousal IRA contributions are not available to couples who file their taxes separately.
  • Spousal IRA contributions have no age limit. You can contribute to your IRA regardless of your income as long as at least one member of the couple is working.
  • Total marital income is taken into account when calculating Roth IRA contribution limits. Income limits restrict direct contributions to a Roth IRA. In 2021, you cannot make a total Roth contribution if your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is $198,000 or higher; you may qualify for a partial deduction if your MAGI is less than $208,000. These will rise to $204,000 for a total deduction and $214,000 for a partial removal in 2022.

There are no income limits on how much a couple can contribute to traditional IRAs. However, there are income limits that the couple must meet before opening a Spousal Roth IRA.

Spousal IRA Tax Deductions

The rules for traditional IRA tax deductions are the same for spousal IRAs. The amount that can be deducted from taxes for married couples with only one working spouse; depends on whether or not a workplace retirement plan covers the working spouse.

If the working spouse is not covered by their employer’s retirement plan, the couple can deduct the entire amount of their Spousal Roth IRA contributions from their taxes. If the earning spouse has an income from a workplace retirement plan, the following rules apply:

Furthermore, if your income is less than $204,000, you can deduct the entire contribution amount. You may be eligible for a partial deduction if you earn between $204,000 and $214,000. However, if you earn more than $214,000, you cannot deduct any amount of your contribution from your taxable income.

Because they provide tax-free withdrawals in retirement, spousal Roth IRA contributions cannot be deducted from your taxes. Consider a backdoor Roth IRA if your income is too high for a Roth IRA and you cannot remove your traditional IRA contributions.

How to Open a Spousal IRA

It is simple to set up a spousal IRA. You can open a Spousal IRA or a Roth IRA for yourself or your spouse at almost any brokerage or Robo-advisor.

To open a Spousal IRA, you must provide basic personal information, such as the account holder’s name, birth date, and Social Security number. After you’ve opened an account, you’ll be able to begin funding the spousal IRA and lay the groundwork for your joint retirement.

Who Qualifies for a Spouse’s IRA?

The same as Roth or standard IRAs, spousal IRAs are only intended for married couples. To make contributions to a spousal IRA, couples must file joint tax returns.

How Do Spousal Iras Operate?

No such “spousal” account type exists. Spousal IRAs are basically regular IRAs that are used by married people. In other words, both standard and Roth IRAs may be used by a married couple. The key is that at least as much money as is donated to each of the couple’s IRAs must be made by the working spouse.

Is a Spouse IRA a Wise Decision?

An good approach for a spouse who doesn’t have a job to save for retirement is through a spousal IRA. Without the spousal IRA exception, spouses without jobs could struggle to locate tax-efficient retirement savings options.

Is Spousal IRAs Different from Regular IRAs?

The IRA type that enables a nonworking spouse to take advantage of the tax advantages and benefits that IRAs offer is simply a Roth or standard IRA. Your spouse might be able to start a spousal IRA to save for retirement tax effectively if they make little or no money each year.

Can My Spouse Have a Separate IRA?

If one spouse receives qualified income, they may contribute to both their own IRA and an IRA for the other spouse who is unemployed. The contribution limits for traditional and Roth IRAs are the same, but the eligibility criteria vary. The IRAs of the couple must be held independently. IRAs cannot be jointly owned.


A spousal Roth IRA can be an excellent way to increase your tax-advantaged retirement savings if your household only has one income. You’ll pay taxes now and be able to withdraw funds tax-free later when you’re in a higher tax bracket.

It can also provide some financial security for a spouse who does a lot of work but is not financially compensated for it.

Remember that a spousal IRA can be set up as a traditional or Roth IRA. Speak with a trusted financial advisor if you’re unsure which type of IRA would benefit you and your spouse the most.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my wife have a Roth IRA if she doesn’t work?

A non-working spouse can open and contribute to an IRA.

A spouse who does not work can also save for retirement. The non-working spouse can open and contribute to their own traditional or Roth IRA if the other spouse works and the couple files a joint federal income tax return.

Can married couples have 2 Roth IRAs?

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account (IRA) that enables tax-free retirement savings. If you’re married, you might be wondering if you and your spouse can open a joint Roth IRA. The short answer is no—Roth IRAs can only be owned by one person.

What is the benefit of a spousal IRA?

If your spouse has little or no income, a spousal Roth IRA allows you to contribute to an individual retirement account for them. Spousal IRAs avoid the federal requirement that someone has earned income in order to contribute to an IRA.

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