Generally, if you don't earn any income, you can't contribute to either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. However, in some cases, married couples who file a joint return can make contributions to the IRA based on the taxable compensation stated in their joint return. If your spouse continues to work and has earned income, you can set up and fund a Roth IRA for you, even if you don't work actively. This marital Roth IRA must be in your name, even if your spouse is the one making the contributions.
You usually need to have earned income at some point during the year to contribute to an IRA on your own. Unearned income from pensions, investments, or Social Security doesn't qualify. Therefore, parents who stay at home, retirees with a spouse who is still working, and others who were unemployed for a year but had an earning spouse have an opportunity to increase retirement savings with tax advantages. IRA Taxpayers should be careful when reporting charitable IRA donations on their tax returns, or they may end up overpaying Uncle Sam.