Mar 11

Question by Clutchitude: Can I contribute to a Roth IRA if my earned income is outside the US?
I have both earned and unearned (dividend, investment, interest) income. My earned income is excluded from my US tax return since I’m physically outside the US. Can I still contribute to a Roth IRA?
Thanks, I thought so. I also assume I have to exclude either all or none of my foreign-earned income if it’s below the threshold.

Best answer:

Answer by Rob
Under the circumstances you have described No you cannot contribute to a Roth or a Tradional IRA

If your Foriegn Earned Income is excluded from your Tax return, it is not considered earned income for the purposes of contributions to either a Traditional or Roth IRA. You can only contribute if the earned income is taxable income.
See Publication 590
Who can contribute and the definitions of what is considered not taxable compensation

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2 comments so far...

  • ninasgramma Said on March 11th, 2011 at 6:22 pm:

    According to IRS Pub 590, for purposes of a Roth IRA, compensation does not include:

    Any amounts (other than combat pay) you exclude from income, such as foreign earned income and housing costs.

    So if all your foreign income is excluded, you will not be able to set up any type of IRA.

  • John B Said on March 11th, 2011 at 6:43 pm:

    If you exclude your foreign wages, it cannot be used as a base to contribute into an IRA (traditional or Roth).

    Your may elect *not* to exclude it. Or, if you have wages in excess of the foreign exclusion, that can be the basis of your IRA contribution. For instance, the 2006 exclusion is $ 82,400. If your wages was $ 90,000, then part of your wages is taxable ($ 7,600) and you can use *that* amount as basis for your IRA contrib.

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