Can a Non-Working Spouse Contribute to an IRA? Yes, with a Spousal IRA!

Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) typically require income in order to be contributed to. This rule does not apply to the spousal IRA, which allows each spouse in a couple to contribute up to the maximum amount if one of them is employed.

Saving for retirement is crucial for financial security in your golden years. But what if you’re a non-working spouse? Does that mean you’re out of luck when it comes to building a nest egg?

Fortunately, the answer is no. Thanks to a special provision called the spousal IRA, non-working spouses can contribute to an IRA even if they don’t have earned income.

Let’s dive deeper into how spousal IRAs work and how they can benefit you and your spouse.

What is a Spousal IRA?

A spousal IRA is a type of individual retirement account (IRA) that allows a working spouse to contribute to an IRA for their non-working spouse. This way, both spouses can contribute to their retirement savings, even if only one spouse is earning an income.

Eligibility Requirements for Spousal IRAs

To be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • File a joint tax return with your spouse.
  • Have eligible compensation from your job. Eligible compensation includes wages, salaries, tips, commissions, and self-employment income.
  • Contribute to your own IRA before contributing to your spouse’s IRA.

Contribution Limits for Spousal IRAs

The contribution limit for spousal IRAs is the same as the contribution limit for individual IRAs. For 2024, the limit is:

  • $7,000 for individuals under age 50
  • $8,000 for individuals age 50 or older

The total combined contribution for both spouses cannot exceed the lesser of:

  • The total eligible compensation of both spouses
  • The total contribution limit for the year

For example, if your combined eligible compensation is $100,000 and you are both under age 50, you can contribute a total of $14,000 to your IRAs ($7,000 for each spouse).

Benefits of Spousal IRAs

Spousal IRAs offer several benefits, including:

  • Increased retirement savings: By allowing both spouses to contribute to IRAs, you can double your retirement savings potential.
  • Tax advantages: Traditional IRA contributions may be tax-deductible, and Roth IRA contributions grow tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement.
  • Catch-up contributions: If you are age 50 or older, you can make additional catch-up contributions to your IRA.

How to Open a Spousal IRA

To open a spousal IRA, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose a financial institution that offers IRAs.
  2. Open a traditional or Roth IRA in your spouse’s name.
  3. Start making contributions to the IRA.

Frequently Asked Questions about Spousal IRAs

Q: Can I contribute to a spousal IRA if I am retired?

A: Yes, as long as your spouse is still working and you meet the other eligibility requirements.

Q: Can I contribute to a spousal IRA if I am self-employed?

A: Yes, self-employment income is considered eligible compensation for spousal IRA contributions.

Q: What happens to the spousal IRA if we get divorced?

A: The spousal IRA will be divided between the spouses as part of the divorce settlement.

Spousal IRAs are a valuable tool for non-working spouses who want to save for retirement. By taking advantage of this opportunity, you can increase your retirement savings and secure your financial future.

Additional Resources

  • Investopedia: Making Spousal IRA Contributions
  • Forbes Advisor: How Married Couples Can Save For Retirement With A Spousal IRA


This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Spousal IRA Tax Deductions

Spousal IRAs are subject to the same standard IRA tax deduction regulations. The amount that can be withheld from taxes for married couples with just one working spouse varies depending on whether or not that spouse is enrolled in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

The phase-out range for married couples filing jointly in 2023 is $116,000–$136,000, provided the spouse contributing to the IRA is covered by a workplace retirement plan. For 2024, it will rise to between $123,000 and $143,000. In the event that the IRA contributor is not protected by a workplace plan, the 2024 phase-out amount will be between $230,000 and $240,000. For 2023, that phase-out range increases from $218,000 to $228,000.

How Spousal IRAs Work

The IRS regulations that allow a spouse who does not work or earn income to fund an individual retirement account are commonly referred to as “spousal IRAs.” The rule permits non-working spouses to contribute to either a traditional or Roth IRA as long as they file a joint tax return with their working spouse. There is no specific type of IRA for spouses.

Spousal IRA-opened individual retirement accounts are not co-owned. Each of the working and non-working spouses has an individual IRA. These may be accounts that each partner opened prior to marriage, during the time they were married and employed, or created by the non-working partner during a period of unemployment.

The annual contribution cap for spouse IRAs is the same as that of regular IRAs, with a cap of $7,000 per person in 2024. For 2023, the limit is $6,500.

In 2024, the maximum annual contribution per individual for those 50 years of age or older will be $8,000. It increased to $7,500 for the 2023 tax year.

“Each spouse can make a contribution up to the current limit,” the IRS states. ”.

A couple where only one spouse works can contribute up to $13,000 annually under the 2023 spousal IRA rules, or $15,000 if both spouses are 50 years of age or older. The cap for a couple in 2024 increases to $16,000 if both spouses are 50 years of age or older. The annual IRA limitations for each individual account serve as a ceiling on contributions.

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This illustrates how the rules governing spouses’ IRAs actually operate. Before getting married, Jessie and Alex, who are both 40, each established and funded their own Roth IRAs. Now that the couple has two small children, Alex stays at home to take care of them, and Jessie earns about $100,000 annually.

The couple intends to save $13,000 in their IRAs for the 2023 tax year because of Jessie’s generous salary. They intend to deposit $6,500 apiece into each of their two Roth IRA accounts. Keep in mind that Jessie is limited by the spousal IRA rules to a maximum contribution of $6,500 to their own IRA. The second $6,500, which Alex owns in full, has to go to his account.

Spousal IRAs are subject to several important rules that you should keep in mind:

  • Whoever funds the account does not alter who owns the account. No matter where the money comes from, each spouse who makes contributions to a spousal IRA is still listed as the owner of the account. Decisions regarding beneficiaries, asset distribution, and withdrawals are exclusively made by the spouse who owns the IRA.
  • To qualify, married couples must file a joint tax return. Contributions to a spouse’s IRA are not permitted for couples who file their taxes separately.
  • There is no age limit on spousal IRA contributions. Regardless of age, you can make contributions to your IRA as long as one partner in the pair is employed.
  • Total marital income is considered for Roth IRA contribution limits. A Roth IRA’s direct contributions are restricted by maximum income levels.

Spousal IRA Contribution non-working spouse (or retired) explained

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