Can Married Couples Contribute to a Roth IRA and 401(k)?




Married couples often choose to handle their finances jointly. Yet when it comes to retirement accounts like 401(k)s and Roth IRAs, the federal government insists that each person have their own individual account in their own name rather than having a joint family account. In most cases, two spouses can each participate in their own 401(k), and depending on their income, they might also be able to fund a Roth IRA as well. Let’s look at some of the nuances involved.
To each his (or her) own
Retirement accounts are held on behalf of one individual. In the case of a 401(k) plan, the account belongs to the person who works for the employer offering the plan. So if each spouse has a job whose employer offers a 401(k), then each one can participate. However, the two spouses have to decide how much each will contribute.

Roth IRAs aren’t tied to an employer, but they follow the similar rule that each account must be for one person only. One difference is that a spouse who doesn’t work can still open and contribute to a Roth IRA if the other spouse has enough earned income to cover the total contributions made to both spouses’ Roth IRAs. You can’t make spousal contributions within a 401(k) plan, so many couples look to even things out when only one spouse has a 401(k) to make sure the other takes full advantage of a Roth IRA.
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