The Rules for a Spouse on a Roth IRA Contribution

Your spouse can have either a good or bad influence on your ability to make a Roth Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) contribution. If you don't earn enough money to contribute, your spouse's income can help you qualify. On the other hand if your spouse makes too much money, it may disqualify both of you.

Minimum Income Requirements

Your contribution to any IRA is limited to the amount of taxable compensation you earn. Taxable compensation includes things such as wages and self-employment income you earn that is subject to income taxes. If your taxable earnings are less than the maximum contribution of $5,500 ($6,500 if you are 50 or older,) you can only contribute the smaller amount. However, if you and your spouse together have enough taxable earnings to cover both of your contributions, you can both contribute the maximum as long as your earnings don't exceed the income limitations.

Income Limitations

For married couples filing jointly, if their combined taxable income exceeds $188,000, they cannot make a Roth contribution. In addition, the maximum contribution level begins to be reduced when their income level reaches $178,000.

Source of Income

Even if you used your spouse's income to qualify for a Roth IRA contribution, you can use any source of income such as other savings or investment accounts. Your spouse does not have to pay into your account. The account remains under your exclusive control, even if your spouse provided the funds.

Filing Separately

If you are married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year, your income must be below $10,000 to contribute to a Roth IRA, and even then you can only contribute a reduced amount. If you are filing separately and you lived apart for the entire year, the limit is $127,000, with the reduced levels beginning at $112,000.

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About the Author

Alan Sembera began writing for local newspapers in Texas and Louisiana. His professional career includes stints as a computer tech, information editor and income tax preparer. Sembera now writes full time about business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Texas A&M University.

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