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What You Need to Know About the Spousal IRA


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written by: victoria mcgruder, cpa, cpwa®

Traditionally, an individual is only able to contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA if they earn an income (and are within the income thresholds for the Roth). But the Spousal IRA ruling by the IRS makes an exception to the traditional requirement for IRA contributions.

How Do Spousal IRAs Work?

Spousal IRA’s are not separate or special accounts that need to be opened and deemed “spousal”. The spousal IRA is less of an account and more of a ruling.

The Spousal IRA ruling notes that if there is a couple where only one spouse works, the non-working spouse will be permitted to contribute to an existing or new Traditional or Roth IRA, assuming the couple files a joint tax return.

Note: All IRA and Retirement specific investment accounts are individually, not jointly, owned.

An Example of the Spousal IRA Ruling:

Let’s say I work at a company and make $150,000 per year and my husband stays at home with our boys. Per the Spousal IRA rules, I will contribute up to $6,000 into my Roth IRA and my husband will contribute $6,000 into his Roth IRA. Whether you have an existing IRA account or are opening a new one – it does not matter.

Spousal IRA Contribution Limits & Rules

The Spousal IRA ruling follows the same annual contribution limits as any other IRA.

  • 2022 Individual Annual contribution is $6,000 or $7,000 for those who are age 50 or older.
  • Under the Spousal IRA rules, a couple where only one spouse works can contribute up to $12,000 per year combined, $13,000 if one spouse is 50 or older, or $14,000 if both are 50 or older.

Like with anything the IRS offers – there are some additional requirements that must be met in order to be able to utilize this Spousal IRA benefit.

  • The married couple must file a joint tax return for the same year of IRA contribution
  • If you want to contribute to a Roth IRA – your joint adjustable gross income must be below $214,000. The contribution will begin to be reduced once income hits $204,000 – $214,000. After $214,000, you are no longer able to contribute to a Roth but will be eligible to contribute to a Traditional IRA.

Who Should Opt In?

If you are a stay at home wife, husband, mom or dad and as a family you have made the decision to stay home and not earn an income through traditional employment – then I would be prioritizing this retirement option.

The decision to stay at home is a wonderful one and serves so many purposes with many benefits. However, it does not come without financial sacrifice. With that said, by contributing to your IRA, made possible by the Spousal IRA ruling, you are creating a protective asset in your name AND getting the benefit of investing for you and your families future. Win win!

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Additional helpful blog posts:

All About Roth IRAs

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I'm a financial advocate, coach, and blogger on a mission to help you build wealth with confidence! 

Having worked closely with countless clients over my 14 year career, I've gained a very deep understanding of money management and effective planning strategies in guiding individuals and families towards financial success. Now, I want to share that wealth of knowledge and insight to empower YOU to take control of their finances, make well-informed decisions, and create a life of abundance without the stress of finances looming over you. I'm so glad you're here! 

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