Custodial Roth IRA: How to Open a Roth IRA For Kids

January 30, 2024 · 10 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Custodial Roth IRA: How to Open a Roth IRA For Kids

A Roth IRA can be a retirement savings tool for children as well as adults. Funded with after-tax dollars, a Roth IRA grows tax-free, so account holders won’t need to pay taxes when they withdraw money in retirement as long as the account has been open for at least five years. Plus, the money in a Roth IRA will have many decades to grow if you open it when your child is young.

And while a Roth IRA has an early distribution penalty, that penalty is generally waived for certain expenses, such as paying for qualified college expenses, if your child needs to access those funds. That flexibility can make a Roth IRA appealing.

Can you open a Roth IRA for a child? Yes! A Roth IRA for kids, called a Custodial Roth IRA, can be opened by a parent, grandparent, or other adult for a child of any age, as long as the child earns income (more on that later).

Here’s everything you need to know about a Roth IRA for kids.

What Is a Roth IRA for Kids?

A Roth IRA for kids, also known as a custodial Roth IRA, is an IRA opened by an adult (usually a parent), who manages the account until the child gets full control of it, which is at age 18 or 21 in most states.

A custodial Roth IRA for kids generally operates in the same way a Roth IRA for adults does. The account holder contributes after-tax dollars toward their retirement savings and the money grows tax-free in the account.

In order to open and contribute to a Roth IRA, your child must have earned income.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening an investment account, know your investment objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance. These fundamentals will help keep your strategy on track and with the aim of meeting your goals.

Who’s Eligible for a Roth IRA for Kids?

A child of any age can have a Roth IRA for kids. However, to be eligible, a child must have an earned income. Earned income can include the compensation earned from jobs like babysitting, dog walking, or working for an employer.

Custodial Roth IRA Rules

In addition to the standard rules for a Roth IRA, there are specific rules for custodial Roth IRAs. These rules include:

No Minimum Age Limit

A child of any age can have a custodial Roth IRA as long as he or she has earned income.

A Child Must Have Earned Income

In order to open a custodial Roth IRA, a child must have earned income. The IRS generally defines earned income as taxable income, wages, and tips. This can also include self-employment, such as yard work or babysitting. Cash gifts given to a child do not count as earned income.

There Are Contribution Limits

The contribution limit for a Roth IRA is $7,000 for 2024 ($8,000 for those 50 and older), or the total of the individual’s earned income for the year, whichever is less.

In addition, a child (or an adult on behalf of a child) cannot contribute an amount greater than the child’s earned income. So if a child earned $2,000 as a lifeguard at the local swimming pool, for example, the most that can be contributed to the child’s custodial IRA that year, including contributions from parents, is $2,000.

Certain Early Withdrawals Are Allowed

In general, you can withdraw contributions from a Roth IRA at any time without penalty. Earnings typically can’t be withdrawn before age 59 ½ without penalty except in certain circumstances. Allowable exceptions include withdrawals up to certain limits to pay for qualified college expenses, cover certain medical bills, and to buy a first home.

Eventual Conversion to a Regular Roth IRA

When the child reaches the legal age in their state (typically 18 or 21, depending on the state), the custodial Roth IRA will need to be converted to a regular Roth IRA in the child’s name.

How to Open a Custodial Roth IRA for a Kid

A Roth IRA for kids can be opened by any adult, such as a parent or grandparent, for instance. While the child is a minor, the adult will have sole access to the account; once the child comes of age (the timing of which varies by state), the account will transfer over to the child.

As with any Roth IRA, investment options within the account can include stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

A Roth IRA can be opened through a financial institution or brokerage firm. You can typically open the account online by providing some basic information about yourself and your child. Choosing the right institution and Roth IRA offering depends on the investor and their preferences, so be sure to do some research.

💡 Quick Tip: Did you know that you must choose the investments in your IRA? Once you open a new IRA and start saving, you get to decide which mutual funds, ETFs, or other investments you want — it’s totally up to you.

Benefits of Starting a Roth IRA for a Child

Flexibility in how to use the funds can be one benefit of opening a custodial Roth IRA as part of an investment plan for your child. A Roth IRA can provide flexibility not only for potential expenses in early adulthood — such as college expenses or buying a home — but can be an investment vehicle throughout your child’s lifetime.

Another benefit is that a Roth IRA typically gives you more control over investments than an education-focused 529 college savings plan, and it may allow you to create a diversified portfolio of different asset classes.

A Roth IRA is a gift that can keep growing, since investors can potentially maximize compounding returns to get the most out of their investment. Here’s how a Roth IRA may unlock the power of compounding: As an example, let’s say you open a custodial Roth IRA when the child is 10 years old, and contribute $2,000 annually. At a certain point, your child might take over contributing $2,000 annually.

Assuming a 7% rate of return, the account will be worth $928,000 by the time your child is 60 years old — even though the amount you and your child contributed would be $100,000 in total. In comparison, if that same money was put in a taxable savings account over the same time period, the total of the account would be approximately $515,764.

And unlike a traditional IRA, there is no required minimum distribution (RMD) on a Roth IRA once the account owner reaches retirement age. A Roth IRA also allows people to continue contributing throughout their lifetime, as long as they’re earning income.

Alternatives to a Roth IRA for a Kid

If you’re looking for other possible investments for your child, some options to consider include the following.

•   Savings account: A parent can open a savings account for a child, as long as the parent is a joint account holder. Savings accounts typically have low interest rates (as of January 2024, the average interest rate for a savings account was 0.47%), so you might want to look for a high-yield savings account instead. These accounts have average interest rates of more than 4% as of early 2024.

•   Savings bonds: If your child doesn’t have earned income, you may want to consider savings bonds. However, savings bonds don’t offer the same potential tax advantages a Roth IRA does since you have to pay federal income tax on the bonds when they mature or you cash them. You won’t pay income taxes on Roth IRA earnings unless you take a non-qualified distribution.

•   529 plans: These plans can help you save for your child’s education. You can typically invest the money you contribute to a 529 plan and choose from a wide range of investment options. While these plans aren’t tax deductible at the federal level, your state may offer tax breaks for contributions made to them. And funds can be withdrawn tax-free for qualified education expenses. As of 2024, money left in a 529 may be rolled over to a Roth IRA for your child, although certain conditions and limits may apply.

•   UGMA/UTMA accounts: A Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) account and a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account are custodial accounts in which an adult can invest on behalf of a child. These accounts are typically used to invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and so on. There are no contribution or income limits, and gifts below the annual gift threshold do not need to be reported. However, there are no tax benefits when contributions are made, and earnings are made to these accounts, and earnings are subject to taxes. When the child reaches legal age, they take over control of the account.

The Takeaway

For a child with earned income, a custodial Roth IRA may be a good way to help them prepare for their future and get started on the path to investing. A child does need to have an earned income to open a custodial Roth IRA, and contributions cannot exceed their income. If your child qualifies, a Roth IRA for kids could potentially give them years of tax-free growth on their money.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.


Can you open a Roth IRA for a child if they don’t earn income?

No. A child must have earned income — which the IRS defines as wages, salaries, tips and other taxable employee compensation, as well as net earnings from self-employment — in order to open a custodial Roth IRA.

Can you open a Roth IRA for a baby?

It’s possible to open an IRA for a baby. As long as a baby earns an income — modeling baby clothes, for instance — you can open a custodial Roth IRA for them. There is no minimum age to open a custodial Roth IRA, but the child must have earned income.

Is it a good idea to open a Roth IRA for a child?

It may be a good idea to open a Roth IRA for a child for several reasons. A Roth IRA can help a child save up for and cover certain expenses in early adulthood, such as qualified college expenses. Also, a Roth IRA typically has higher returns than a savings account. And because kids have a low tax rate now, when contributions are made, it makes sense to open a Roth IRA, which is taxed upfront. At retirement, as long as they are at least age 59 ½, they can withdraw the money tax-free.

Can I give my child money for a Roth IRA?

Yes, you can contribute to your child’s IRA. However, annual contributions to the account cannot exceed the child’s annual earned income. Also, per IRS rules, the overall amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA is to $7,000 in 2024 for individuals under age 50, or the total annual earned income, whichever is less.

What is the disadvantage of a Roth IRA for kids?

One potential disadvantage of an IRA for kids is that your child must earn an income in order to open and contribute to an account. In addition, you can only contribute the amount the child earns. So if the child makes $500 for the year babysitting, that is the most you can contribute to their custodial Roth IRA.

Can I open a Roth IRA for my 2 year old?

As long as your 2-year-old earns an income, you can open a custodial Roth IRA for them. There is no minimum age requirement for a Roth IRA for kids.

How do I prove my child’s income for a Roth IRA?

If your child receives a W-2 or 1099 form for work they did for an employer, you can use those documents to prove your child’s income. However, if they are self-employed and do work like babysitting, dog walking or yard work to earn money, you should keep receipts or records of the type of work they did, the amount they earned, when the work was done, and who it was for, as proof of their income.

What happens to a custodial Roth IRA when the child turns 18?

Once a child is of legal age, which is typically 18 or 21, depending on your state, the IRA must be converted to a regular Roth IRA in the child’s name that they then own and manage.

Do children need to file a tax return to fund their Roth IRA?

As long as their income is below the threshold that requires them to file a tax return, children are typically not required to file a tax return just because they have a custodial IRA. However, you may want to consult with a tax professional about your specific situation.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SoFi Invest®
SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA ( Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.


All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender