Only 10 percent of all eligible taxpayers contribute to an individual retirement arrangement account, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. With prices continuing to rise, and doubt about the ability of Social Security to provide benefits into the future, maximizing your retirement savings makes good sense. One way to increase your savings is to contribute to a Roth IRA for both yourself and your spouse, provided you qualify. A Roth IRA provides tax-free income when you retire.
To contribute to a Roth IRA, you must have earned income. This is money that you receive from employment, such as from wages or salary, or even tip or bonus income. Self-employment income is also earned income. In addition, union strike benefits as well as long-term disability payments qualify as earned income. Other forms of income, such as interest income or child support or alimony do not qualify as earned income.
If you are married and filing a joint return and qualify, you can make a Roth IRA contribution for yourself, as well as your spouse, even if you are the only one who earned an income. For example, if your spouse has taken some time off to be a stay-at-home parent, and you continue to work, you can contribute to IRAs for each of you.
Qualifying for a Roth
As of 2013, if you are married filing a joint return, you qualify for a full Roth IRA contribution as long as you have less than $178,000 in modified adjusted gross income. Your allowable contribution begins to phase out above that level until your modified adjusted gross income reaches $188,000, when your eligibility for a Roth IRA contribution is eliminated.
In 2013, the IRA allowable annual maximum contribution increased from the previous $5,000 to $5,500. If you are age 50 and older, you can now contribute $6,500 per year. This maximum is for each individual person, both husband and wife. You can contribute the lesser of this amount, or your earned income as a married couple for the year. For example, if you have $8,000 in earned income, you can contribute a total of $8,000 to all IRAs for yourself and your spouse, but you cannot exceed the maximum contribution of $5,500 for one person.