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Spousal IRAs What are They and Who Can Contribute to One

Spousal IRAs are designed to allow a working spouse to make IRA contributions for a spouse who does not have enough earned income to make their own IRA contributions.

There are some key requirements that must be met:

  • The spouses must be legally married and file a joint federal tax return. This includes same-sex couples.
  • The spouse receiving the contribution must have less compensation, or no compensation, than the spouse making the contribution.
  • The IRA account must be held in the name of the spouse for whom the contribution is made. If Gina is the working spouse and the contribution is made for George, then the IRA account must be in George’s name. George has complete control over the IRA account. He can name his own beneficiaries, invest the funds as he wishes, and take withdrawals whenever he wants.

The spousal contributions must meet all other contribution rules:

  • The maximum contribution amount for 2017 and 2018, for IRA and Roth accounts combined, is $5,500 for those under age 50 and $6,500 for those age 50 and over.
  • Contributions must be in cash.
  • Contributions can be made up to April 15th of the current year for a prior year.
  • Contributions cannot be made for a deceased spouse.
  • Contributions can be made even if the IRA owner is contributing to an employer plan.

There are rules for IRA accounts only:

  • No contributions can be made beginning in the year the account owner turns age 70½.
  • Contributions may be deductible depending on whether a spouse is covered by an employer plan, which spouse is covered by a plan, and the combined income of both spouses.

There are rules for Roth IRA accounts only:

  • There are income limits for making Roth IRA contributions.
  • There is no deduction for a Roth IRA contribution.

By Beverly DeVeny

Director of Retirement Education

Follow Beth Blecker on Twitter: @EasternPlanning


“Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group” is solely an indication that the financial advisor has attended training provided by Ed Slott and Company. Ed Slott is not affiliated with Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. Securities and advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Additional advisory and financial planning offered through Affiliated Advisors, Inc. Insurance services offered through Eastern Planning Inc. Listed entities not affiliated with Royal Alliance.

Eastern Planning and Royal Alliance do not offer tax services. Please consult with a tax professional for specific, individualized advice.

Reprinted from The Slott Report, 3/21/2018, with permission. Ed Slott and Company, LLC takes no responsibility for the current accuracy of this article. Copyright © 2017 Ed Slott and Company, LLC

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