by Jeffrey Dixon, MBA, CISP, SDIP

With a Spousal IRA (also known as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA), you do not need to earn income to contribute to an IRA account.

As you probably know,  you must have your own income from a W-2 job (or from being self-employed) to make an IRA contribution.  Here is an exception to that rule.

If your spouse earns income and you do not, you are still allowed to contribute into your own IRA account. This is called the Spousal IRA.  This is not so much a kind of IRA as it is an IRS rule.  The Spousal IRA contribution can only be made to a Traditional or Roth IRA account.  It is important to understand the differences.

The maximum contribution you can make is $6,000 if under the age of 50 and $7,000 if 50+.

A spousal IRA is an excellent way for a spouse who does not earn income to save for retirement. A spousal IRA remains intact even if the spouse without earned income starts to receive pay for work. In this case, they can still contribute to the IRA, according to regular IRA rules.

Spousal IRA Rules

  •  The married couple must file a joint federal tax return.
  •  This does not apply to other family relationships.  A child cannot contribute to their own IRA because their parents have earned income.  The child would have to have their own income
  • Roth spousal IRA contributions have Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) limits that must be observed. MAGI can be defined as your household’s adjusted gross income with any tax-exempt interest income and certain deductions added back.
  •  Roth IRAs have income limits, so if you make too much you cannot contribute to this type of account.  You can contribute to a Roth IRA if your income falls below the Roth limits. You are allowed a prorated contribution if your income falls within the “phase-out” range. If your income exceeds the income range, you will not qualify for a Roth IRA contribution. Be sure to discuss your any contribution with your tax advisor.

40 Years of the Spousal IRA

In 1981, with the passage of the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA), Americans could contribute to an IRA for themselves and their nonworking spouses if they were younger than 70 ½ years of age. Today that age would be age 72 (70 ½ if you reach 70 ½ before January 1, 2020).

To discuss Spousal IRA contributions or other IRA or Solo 401k questions, please contact uDirect IRA Services at 714-980-4936 or email us at