What Are the Roth IRA Rules for Married Couples?

Money Girl explains what married couples need to know about contributing to a Roth IRA. 

Laura Adams, MBA
5-minute read
Episode #356


What If You Contribute Too Much to a Roth IRA?

If you’re like Monica and find out that you’ve already contributed too much to a Roth IRA, there’s an easy way to fix it. Simply withdraw the contributions before the due date (including extensions) for filing your tax return. For instance, if you over-contribute for 2014, withdraw excess contributions and their earnings before the tax filing deadline in April 2015.

There’s even more good news: If you miss the tax filing deadline, you still have time to correct excess Roth IRA contributions. You can withdraw them within 6 months after the due date for your return (excluding extensions) by filing an amended tax return.

See also: Money Management Tips for Married Couples


Additionally, you can apply the excess contributions from one year to a later year, as long as they don’t exceed your maximum allowable limit for the future year. Your account custodian can calculate the exact amount you need to withdraw or apply to a future year and make sure the transaction is completed on time.

If you fail to move funds to a future year or miss the deadline to make a withdrawal, you’ll be subject to a 6% excise tax on excess contributions.

What Happens to Your Roth IRA When You Become Ineligible?

Being ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA doesn't change her account in any way. She can keep it indefinitely and buy and sell the investments held in the account as she likes. She just can’t make any new contributions.

And if the IRS changes the rules and allows higher Roth IRA income limits, or if Monica's household income decreases, she may be eligible to make contributions again in the future.

But don't stop investing just because you become ineligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. Instead, max out a retirement plan at work, a traditional IRA, or a retirement account for the self-employed, if you work for yourself.

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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlersbook is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.