Spousal IRA Contribution Rules

Till Death Do Us Part.  When a couple join in holy matrimony, there are many new discoveries awaiting them.  When it comes to their finances, there are potential to be some added benefits: joint checking accounts for consolidated record keeping, joint tax filing status, and lastly; the ability to contribute for a non-working spouse to contribute to their IRA.  Ahhhh….isn’t marriage bliss? There are special rules and restrictions that apply to spousal contributions to IRAs that should also be considered when selecting an IRA for your family.  Here we look at some of those rules to help you make an informed decision regarding your IRA account.

Disclaimer: While as tempting as it sounds, I would not suggest that a young couple elope just to be able to have access to a spousal IRA :)

Rules for spousal contributions.

There are a few basic rules to consider if you will be making contributions to your spouse’s IRA.  For the year that you are making contributions, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Married to your spouse at the end of the tax year.
  • Spouse earned taxable income for the tax year.
  • File a joint federal income tax return.
  • Your taxable income must be less than that of the owner of the IRA.

It is also important to remember that the contribution limits are subject to change therefore it is important to remain up to date with IRS tax limits regarding maximum contributions that both you and your spouse can make to an IRA each year.

Spousal IRA Contributions

Spousal IRA Contribution Rules
Creative Commons License photo credit: er1danus

In order to contribute to an IRA you must have taxable income.  This includes wages, commissions, bonuses and self employment income.  This would generally rule out contributions made to an IRA from a non-working spouse, however that is not the case.  Spousal contributions can be made to an established IRA from a spouse using the compensation income of the working spouse.  This can be beneficial for stay-at-home parents or non working spouses who wish to contribute to retirement savings.  In 2010 the contribution limits for the non-working spouse under the age of 50 was $5,000 for the tax year.  This is in addition to the $5,000 their working spouse could contribute, equaling a total of $10,000 in possible savings.  If you are 50 years of age or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 per year in “catch up” contributions.

Taxation of Spousal IRA Contributions

Spousal contributions are taxed just as owner contributions.  This will depend on the type of IRA account to which you are contributing.  With a traditional IRA, all or most of your contributions can be considered a tax-deduction if you meet certain income requirements.  While this is a great tax benefit at the time of contribution, it is important to remember that distributions from the traditional IRA will be subject to taxation.  Contributions made to a Roth IRA are not considered tax deductible and will be subject to income taxes when you file your federal income tax return.  While the tax benefits are not immediately realized, you will not have to pay further taxes when you take qualified distributions.

As you can see there are several factors to consider before deciding which type of IRA is right for you and your family.  Once the decision is made, rest assured that you and your spouse are taking the necessary action to ensure a financially secure retirement.  And if you haven’t told your significant other that you love them in a while, here’s your chance :)

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment planning advice.  We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Derek K. Miller

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