The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you have earned income in order to contribute to a Roth IRA. This means that you must have paid work for someone else or for your own business in order to make contributions to a Roth IRA. Generally, you need to have earned income at some point during the year in order to contribute to an IRA on your own. Unearned income from pensions, investments, or Social Security does not qualify.
Fortunately, parents who stay at home, retirees with a spouse who is still working, and those who were unemployed for a year but had an income-earning spouse have the opportunity to increase their retirement savings with tax advantages. However, IRA taxpayers should be careful when declaring charitable donations from their IRA on their tax returns, as they could end up overpaying the IRS.