We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Spousal IRA?

Margo Upson
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Many families choose to have one spouse stay at home to raise their children, either for a couple of years or permanently. The stay-at-home parent does not have the option of their own employer-sponsored IRA plan, and their lack of income disqualifies them for other IRA options. This is because the maximum amount that can be contributed to an IRA is $5,000 US dollars (USD), or 100% of an individual’s total income, whichever is less. For an at-home spouse with zero income, there is no way to establish their own IRA because 100% of their income is nothing.

Fortunately, there is a provision for at-home parents. A spousal IRA lets the working spouse contribute extra money to their own IRA on their spouse’s behalf. The extra savings potential means that both spouses will be covered for retirement. The main difference between a regular IRA and a spousal IRA is that the working spouse’s income is used to determine contribution amounts for both IRAs, not just his or her own.

A spousal IRA can be set up through a Roth or traditional IRA. The couple must be married, and must file their taxes jointly. Contributions to the IRA are limited by the same rules as regular IRA accounts. For example, in a traditional IRA, the maximum amount that an individual can contribute yearly is $5,000 USD, or 100% of the individual’s annual income, whichever is less. For a spousal IRA, the limit is the same for both spouses, meaning that, together, they could contribute up to $10,000 USD annually. Spouses over the age of 50 can contribute an extra $1,000 USD a year each, or $12,000 USD total.

Unlike many of the other joint financial ventures in marriage, like savings or checking accounts, spousal IRAs are held separately. Each spouse has their own account, even though the accounts are being funded together. In the case of divorce or legal separation, each spouse gets to keep their own IRA. For the year of the divorce, however, contributions to the non-working spouse’s IRA cannot be counted for tax deductions.

Couples can begin receiving regular IRA payments, or one lump sum, after they reach 59 ½ years of age, without penalties. This leaves 20 to 30 years of reasonable life expectancy with no income from a job site, leaving the couple to depend on the money they have saved for these years. Developing an IRA for a non-working spouse is important because it allows for a couple to contribute double the regular limits, securing a comfortable retirement. A retirement planner or financial consultant can assist couples in choosing the IRA options that are best for their personal needs.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margo Upson
By Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a WiseGeek writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.
Discussion Comments
Margo Upson
Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.