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RETIREMENT
OCTOBER 15, 2021

Can I contribute to a Roth IRA if I'm retired?

Answered by
Debra Greenberg
Director, Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America
Yes, you can, but only if you have compensation income. Roth IRAs were designed to help people save for retirement with the advantage of tax-free growth. So they're really most useful as a way to invest for growth in the years before you retire.
For purposes of the annual limit, "compensation" includes wages from employment or earned income from self-employment.

Is there an age limit for contributing?

No. Roth IRAs have no age limit for contributing. You just need to have compensation equal to or greater than your contribution. Also, be aware that your eligibility to contribute is phased out, based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) ranges that are published annually and correspond to your federal tax filing status. If your MAGI is
  • less than the lower limit, you are eligible to contribute up to the annual contribution limit for the year
  • between the limits, you are eligible to make a partial Roth IRA contribution
  • above the upper limit, you are not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA

What are the contribution limits?

Generally, the contribution limit is $6,000 per year ($7,000 if you're age 50 or older during the calendar year), or if less, your taxable compensation for the year but the ability to make Roth IRA contributions is subject to income limits. Roth IRAs were designed as a way to help people save money for retirement, because qualified distributions of the gains on the investments in the account would be federally tax-free later on. Anyone earning above a certain threshold faces limits on how much they can contribute. The amount is based on your MAGI and federal tax filing status. Note that this annual limit applies to your total contributions to both traditional and Roth IRAs for that year. To find out more, read Merrill's Contribution Limits and Tax Reference Guide (PDF).
For purposes of the annual limit, "compensation" includes wages from employment or earned income from self-employment. Income from Social Security, pensions or investments doesn't count. But earnings from a part-time or consulting job, for instance, would be included. Check with your tax advisor to see if your income would affect your eligibility to contribute to a Roth IRA.
Generally, if you're not earning any income, you can't contribute to either a traditional or a Roth IRA. However, in some cases, married couples filing jointly may be able to make IRA contributions based on the taxable compensation reported on their joint return.

How do spousal contributions to a Roth IRA work?

As long as your spouse earns enough to cover your contribution, and you file your tax return jointly, he or she could contribute up to the maximum allowable limit for you. So, for example, if you're both 50 or older during the calendar year, as long as your spouse has $14,000 in compensation and you and your spouse do not exceed the MAGI limits, your spouse could contribute up to $7,000 annually to a Roth IRA in his or her name, and up to $7,000 annually to a Roth IRA in your name.
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Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.
Asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.
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Investing in securities involves risks, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.

Asset allocation, diversification, and rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.
Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

This material is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy. Merrill offers a broad range of brokerage, investment advisory (including financial planning) and other services. Additional information is available in our Client Relationship Summary (PDF).

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as "MLPF&S" or "Merrill") makes available certain investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by companies that are affiliates of Bank of America Corporation ("BofA Corp."). MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, Member Securities Investor Protection (SIPC) popup and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation ("BofA Corp").
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