Tag Archives: Compensation requirements

Spousal IRA: Do Not Overlook

2015_03_10 Spousal IRASpousal IRA is one frequently overlooked tax benefit. Generally, IRA contributions are only allowed for taxpayers who have compensation (the term “compensation” includes: wages, tips, bonuses, professional fees, commissions, alimony received, and net income from self-employment). Spousal IRAs are the exception to that rule. They allow a non-working or low-earning spouse to contribute to his or her own IRA, otherwise known as a spousal IRA, as long as the spouse has adequate compensation.

The maximum amount that a non-working or low-earning spouse can contribute is the same as the limit for a working spouse ($5,500 for years 2013 through 2015). If the non-working spouse is age 50 or older, the spouse can also make “catch-up” contributions (limited to $1,000 for 2013 through 2015). This raises the overall contribution limit to $6,500. These limits apply provided the couple together has compensation equal to or greater than their combined IRA contributions.

Example: Tony is employed and his W-2 for 2015 is $100,000. His wife, Rosa, age 45, has a small income from a part-time job totaling $900. Since her own compensation is less than the contribution limits for the year, she can base her contribution on their combined compensation of $100,900. Thus, Rosa can contribute up to $5,500 to an IRA for 2015.

The contributions for both spouses can be made either to a Traditional or Roth IRA. Or, it can be split between them. This is as long as the combined contributions do not exceed the annual contribution limit. Caution: The deductibility of the Traditional IRA and the ability to make a Roth IRA contribution are generally based on the taxpayer’s income:

  • Traditional IRAs – There is no income limit restricting contributions to a Traditional IRA. However, if the working spouse is an active participant in any other qualified retirement plan, a tax-deductible contribution can be made to the IRA of the non-participant spouse. This is only if the couple’s adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed $183,000 in 2015 (up from $181,000 in 2014). This limit is phased out in 2015 for AGI between $183,000 and $193,000 (up from $181,000 and $191,000 in 2014).
  • Roth IRAs – Roth IRA contributions are never tax-deductible. Contributions to Roth IRAs are allowed in full if the couple’s AGI doesn’t exceed $183,000 in 2015 (up from $181,000 in 2014). The contribution is ratably phased out for AGI between $183,000 and $193,000 (up from $181,000 and $191,000 in 2014). Thus, no contribution is allowed to a Roth IRA once the AGI exceeds $193,000.

Example: Rosa, in the previous example, can designate her IRA contribution to be either a deductible Traditional IRA or a nondeductible Roth IRA because the couple’s AGI is under $183,000. Had the couple’s AGI been $188,000, Rosa’s allowable contribution to a deductible Traditional or Roth IRA would have been limited to $2,750 because of the phaseout. The other $2,750 could have been contributed to a nondeductible Traditional IRA. 

Questions About Spousal IRA or Tax Deductions?

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