My filing status is Married Filing Jointly, and our Household income is >$191,000. However, my spouse and my income separately is less than $191,000. My spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work, but I am not. Would I be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA?

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    Publication 590 (available for free downloading from the IRS web site) is your friend. You need to check something called the MAGI (Modified Adjusted Gross Income), not just your "Household income" to determine whether you are eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. MAGI more than $191K disqualifies you completely, "Household Income" more than $191K? maybe, or maybe not. Sep 6, 2014 at 13:56
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    is there still the alternative of creating a new IRA and doing a roth conversion (for any income), or has that expired?
    – Miro
    Sep 6, 2014 at 14:23
  • Just to confirm, the MAGI is still the joint income, minus deductions (mortgage interest, etc.), right?
    – rs79
    Sep 12, 2014 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


As @DilipSarwate mentioned in his comments, if you are filing Married Filing Jointly and your MAGI for Roth IRA purposes is more than $191K, neither of you can contribute to a Roth IRA. Whether either of you is covered by a retirement plan at work is not relevant.

As @Miro mentioned in the comments, there is a technique called a "backdoor Roth IRA contribution" that is pretty much the same but has no income limit. You contribute to a Traditional IRA, and then immediately convert it to a Roth IRA (neither of these things has an income limit). Note that in order for this work properly, you must not have any pre-tax money in Traditional IRA or other pre-tax IRAs to begin with. If you don't have any existing pre-tax IRA money, then you don't pay any taxes as part of this procedure, and the result of this procedure is pretty much identical in every way to a regular Roth IRA contribution.

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    Great point on existing IRAs for backdoor method. If you have 95k in existing IRA and do a backdoor roth on a new 5k IRA; they have you pay taxes on 95% of the 5k roth. It starts to feel like double taxation at this point.
    – Miro
    Sep 7, 2014 at 13:47

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