You can contribute to a traditional IRA if you earn compensation and you will not reach age 70 1/2 by the end of the year. If you file a joint tax return, you can treat your spouse’s compensation as your own (except your combined contributions cannot exceed your combined compensation or contribution limit, whichever is less). All earnings in a traditional IRA are not taxed until they are withdrawn. The ability to defer taxes on the earnings, and to withdraw in a year when you may be in a lower tax bracket, can mean more after-tax dollars for your retirement.