Can I Have a Joint Roth IRA?

Not exactly, but spouses can help each other save

Couple reviewing paperwork
Photo:

Kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

A Roth IRA is an individual retirement account that can help you save for retirement while enjoying tax benefits. Since they are funded with after-tax dollars, contributions can be withdrawn at any time without tax or penalty, and withdrawals of earnings are often tax- and penalty-free once you’ve reached age 59 1/2 and have had the account for at least five years.

If you’re married and saving for retirement with your spouse, you may be wondering what your options are for a joint Roth IRA. While such an investment option doesn’t exist, there are some ways couples can invest for retirement together. Learn more about your options for putting away money for the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Joint IRAs aren’t an official type of retirement account, but spousal IRAs can make it possible for a couple to plan for retirement together.
  • You can open a spousal IRA at a financial institution such as a bank or credit union, as well as through mutual fund providers and investment brokerages.
  • Even if one spouse doesn’t generate an income, they can contribute financially to a spousal IRA.

You Can’t Open a Joint Roth IRA With a Spouse

It’s understandable why you might want to combine retirement savings efforts with your spouse by contributing to the same Roth IRA, but there is no such thing as a joint Roth IRA.

“Everyone likes to streamline their finances as much as possible,'' financial advisor Chris Gure of Fortress Financial Partners explained to The Balance via email. “The IRS does add a layer of complexity by limiting IRA accounts to each individual. Married clients will each have their own IRA, and even though we often recommend a spousal IRA, this is still a different account.”

Using a Spousal IRA Instead of a Joint Roth IRA

You do have an option when it comes to investing in a Roth IRA with your spouse. Generally, you need to earn taxable income to contribute to an IRA. With a spousal IRA, however, even a non-income-earning spouse can have an IRA of their own. If you file your taxes jointly, your spouse’s taxable income will qualify you to make a contribution to a Roth or traditional IRA. Both you and your spouse are able to do so as long as it doesn’t surpass the contribution limit for the year.

That means for 2022, you can each contribute up to $6,000 to a traditional IRA, or $7,000 if you're age 50 or older (the additional $1,000 is considered a "catch-up contribution") as long as that number does not exceed your taxable compensation.

Note

A catch-up contribution enables you to save more as you get closer to retirement age.

While a spousal IRA isn’t exactly a joint IRA, it does give both spouses the option to save for retirement together and to work toward their financial goals even if one spouse doesn’t work.

How To Open a Spousal IRA as a Roth IRA

Before you can open a spousal IRA, you’ll need to open a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA. A major factor in deciding which type of IRA to open will depend on your income. Roth IRAs have limits that are based on your modified adjusted gross income (AGI). Once you surpass the limit, you are unable to contribute to a Roth IRA. Traditional IRAs, on the other hand, don’t have income limits, which can make it the only IRA option for couples who earn more than $214,000 when filing jointly.

Each brokerage will have a unique application process, but generally, you can expect to go through the following steps to open a spousal IRA:

  • Provide necessary documentation and information: To open any type of IRA account, you will be expected to provide the brokerage with personal information and documentation they request, including your Social Security number, driver’s license number, employer information, and statement information regarding any cash or assets you plan to transfer into your IRA, along with beneficiary information.
  • Make your first deposit and set up an initial one: Some brokerages will require a minimum amount for your initial deposit and others won’t. Either way, you’ll likely want to make an initial deposit and follow it up with a recurring deposit that can come directly from your bank account.
  • Choose investments: If you have a professionally managed brokerage account, they’ll help you pick out your investments. You may also choose a self-directed account and decide how to invest your own contributions.

Inheriting a Spouse’s Roth IRA

Even though it may not look like it at first glance, most IRAs are somewhat joint by default because the surviving spouse will inherit it after death unless it’s specifically willed to another person.

The surviving spouse will have the option to treat the IRA as their own by designating themselves as the account owner or can roll it over into their own existing IRA.

When it comes to inheriting a Roth IRA, there are some key rules around distributions that are worth being aware of. Generally, all of the interest held in a Roth IRA is required to be distributed by the end of the fifth calendar year after the year that the owner of the account passes on; however, if a spouse is the sole beneficiary of the account, they can choose to delay distributions until their spouse would have turned 70½.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How much can I contribute to an IRA when I’m married and file a joint tax return?

For 2022, the most you can contribute to an IRA is $6,000 if you are younger than age 50. If you are 50 or older, you can contribute as much as $7,000. Because these contributions aren’t made jointly, your marital status and how you choose to file your tax returns won’t impact your contribution limits.

Where should I open a spousal Roth IRA?

You can open Roth IRAs, including spousal Roth IRAs, at financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. You can also choose to do so through an investment brokerage or mutual fund provider.

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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IRS. "Retirement Topics - IRA Contribution Limits."

  2. IRS. “Amount of Roth IRA Contributions That You Can Make for 2022.”

  3. IRS. “Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)," Page 19.

  4. IRS "Retirement Topics - Beneficiary"

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