A type of individual retirement account that allows a working spouse to contribute to a nonworking spouse's retirement savings. A spousal IRA creates an exception to the provision that an individual must have earned income to contribute to an IRA. The working spouse's income, however, must equal or exceed the total IRA contributions made on behalf of both spouses.
To qualify to make spousal IRA contributions, the couple also must file a joint tax return. Spousal IRAs can be either traditional or Roth IRAs, and are subject to the same annual contribution limits, income limits and catch-up contribution provisions as traditional and Roth IRAs. While IRAs cannot be held jointly in both spouse's names, spouses can share their account distributions in retirement.