Q&A: Opening an IRA for a retired spouse

Dear Liz: Are spousal IRAs a good idea for a couple when one spouse is retired but the other is working? I’m 63 and work full time. My husband is 76 and retired. I have a Roth IRA; he does not. I contribute the maximum amount to my IRA. If we create a spousal IRA for him, would we be able to contribute as if it were a regular Roth IRA?

Answer: Yes. Normally people must have earned income — such as wages, salary, commissions, tips or self-employment income — to contribute to an IRA or a Roth IRA. If you’re married and working, though, you can contribute up to the maximum amount on behalf of a nonworking spouse. In 2023, the maximum contribution for people 50 and older is $7,500. As long as you earn at least $15,000 ($7,500 times two), you can max out both accounts.

There’s no special “spousal IRA” account, by the way. Just open a regular IRA or Roth IRA in his name.

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