Individual retirement accounts are, as their name implies, for individual taxpayers, and married people must each have their own accounts. Each spouse can make the maximum allowable contribution to their account, with some conditions. While earned income is necessary to make a Roth IRA contribution, a non-working spouse, such as a stay-at-home mom, may also be able to make a contribution to her own Roth IRA account as well.
As of November 2012, a person can contribute a maximum of up to $5,000 to their IRA accounts in any year. If you are age 50 or older, you can contribute up to $6,000. These amounts will increase by $500 in 2013. A spouse can also contribute up to the same amounts to his own IRA, effectively doubling the amounts that a married couple can contribute to IRA accounts.
To contribute to an IRA, you or your spouse must have earned income. You can contribute the lesser of the earned income or the maximum allowable contribution for the year to all of your IRA accounts. The working spouse must have earned income enough to at least equal both spouse's contributions to the Roth IRA. For example, if you only have $8,000 in earned income, the most that you can contribute to all of the IRAs owned between you is $8,000.
Qualifying for a Roth
As of 2013, you may make a full Roth IRA contribution as long as your modified adjusted gross income is less than $178,000. Your allowable contribution phases out between $178,000 and $188,000, and is eliminated at higher amounts. These limits apply to people who are married filing a joint income tax return.
Married Filing Separately
If you are married filing a separate return, your Roth IRA allowable contributions are significantly restricted if your modified adjusted gross income is less than $10,000. If your income is over $10,000 per year, you cannot contribute to a Roth IRA.