Most people mistakenly believe that their IRA must be invested in bank CDs, the stock market, or mutual funds. Few Investors realize that the IRS has always permitted real estate to be held inside IRA retirement accounts. Investments in real estate with a Self-Directed IRA are fully permissible under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). IRS rules permit you to engage in almost any type of real estate investment, aside generally from any investment involving a disqualified person.
In addition, the IRS states the following on their website: “…..IRA law does not prohibit investing in real estate but Trustees are not required to offer real estate as an option.”
Advantages of Using a Self-Directed IRA to Purchase Real Estate
Income or gains generated by an IRA generate tax-deferred/tax-free profits. Using a Self-Directed IRA to purchase real estate allows the IRA to earn tax-free income/gains and pay taxes at a future date (in the case of a Roth IRA the income/gains are always tax-free), rather than in the year the investment produces income.
With a Self-Directed IRA, you can invest tax-free and not have to pay taxes right away – or in the case of a Roth IRA - ever! All the income or gains from your real estate deals flow through to your IRA tax-free!
Why Buy Real Estate Using a Self-Directed IRA
- Gains are tax free
- Positive cash flow is tax free
- No time limit for holding property
- IRA can borrow money - Leverage your investment with non-recourse financing
- Potential to earn a larger rate of return on invested capital
Tax Advantages of Buying Real estate with a Self-Directed IRA
When purchasing real estate with a Self-Directed IRA, in general, all income and gains generated by your pre-tax retirement account investment would generally flow back into the retirement account tax-free. Instead of paying tax on the returns of a real estate investment, tax is paid only at a later date, leaving the real estate investment to grow unhindered. Generally, Self-Directed IRA real estate investments are usually made when a person is earning higher income and is taxed at a higher tax rate. Withdrawals are made from an investment account when a person is earning little or no income and is taxed at a lower rate.
For example, Joe established a Self-Directed IRA with $100,000 to purchase real estate and make other investments. Assume Joe kept his Self-Directed IRA LLC open for 20 years. Further assume that Joe was able to generate an average annual pre-tax rate of return of 8% and the average tax rate was 25%. By using a Self-Directed IRA, after 20 years, Joe’s $100,000 investment would be worth $466,098 – a whopping $349,572 after taxes on the earnings. Whereas, if Joe made the investments with taxable funds (non-retirement funds) Joe would have only accumulated $320,714 after 20 years.
Types of Real Estate Investments
Below is a partial list of real estate-related investments that you can make with a Self-Directed IRA LLC:
- Raw land
- Residential homes
- Commercial property
- Mobile homes
- Real estate notes
- Real estate purchase options
- Tax liens certificates
- Tax deeds
Investing in Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA with IRA Financial Trust Quick & Easy!
With IRA Financial Trust, you will be able to purchase real estate with or without Checkbook Control.
Buying Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA without Checkbook Control
IRA Financial Trust Company offers Self-Directed IRA investors’ full IRA custodial services for traditional and alternative asset investments, such as real estate. All IRA funds will be held with Northern Trust, an FDIC insured global banking leader for over 125 years, before the client directs the funds for investment.
The first step to buying real estate with a Self-Directed IRA is establishing an IRA account with IRA Financial Trust. Once your new Self-Directed IRA account has been established, IRA Financial Trust will assist you in rolling over any existing retirement funds tax-free to the new Self-Directed IRA account. You can also make IRA contributions directly to the Self-Directed IRA account. IRA Financial Trust will serve as your IRA custodian and Northern Trust Company, an FDIC insured global banking leader for over 125 years, will be the bank where the rollover funds or IRA contributions are deposited. Once your funds have been transferred to the new Self-Directed IRA account with IRA Financial Trust, you will then direct IRA Financial Trust Company to purchase real estate.
IRA Financial Trust will walk you through the entire process of buying real estate with a Self-Directed IRA. Below, please find a checklist of the items that are generally required:
- Investment Authorization Form completed with funding instructions
- Purchase Contract or Preliminary Settlement Statement in the name of IRA Financial Trust Company CFBO [Investor Name] [IRA Account No.]
- Estimated Closing Statement
- Preliminary title report
- Escrow documentation package, if applicable
- Nonrecourse Loan package, if applicable
- Proposed deed with “When Recorded Return To” IRA Financial Trust Company [ADDRESS]
- Recorded Grant Deed
- Title Insurance Policy
IRA Financial Trust, as IRA Custodian, will be required to sign all real estate related transaction documents on behalf of your IRA.
Buying Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA with Checkbook Control
IRA Financial Trust is proud to offer Checkbook IRA custodial services along with its full service IRA administration services all for one low price without any transaction or asset valuation fees. IRA Financial Trust Company is one of the few full-service IRA custodians who specialize in establishing Checkbook Control IRA LLC accounts.
IRA Financial Trust Company is a regulated, non-banking financial institution that is made up of retirement tax specialists committed to helping you make Self-Directed retirement investments quickly while minimizing annual fees. IRA Financial Trust Company was founded by tax attorneys who worked at some of the largest law form in the world, including White & Case LLP and Dewey and LeBoeuf LLP and have helped over 12000 clients self-direct their retirement funds through their ownership in the IRA Financial Group LLC. Our experience working with Checkbook Control IRA LLC structures is unmatched in the industry.
The first step to buying real estate with a Self-Directed IRA is establishing an IRA account with IRA Financial Trust. Once your new Self-Directed IRA account has been established, IRA Financial Trust will assist you in rolling over any existing retirement funds tax-free to the new Self-Directed IRA account. You can also make IRA contributions directly to the Self-Directed IRA account. IRA Financial Trust will serve as your IRA custodian and Northern Trust Company, an FDIC insured global banking leader for over 125 years, will be the bank where the rollover funds or IRA contributions are deposited. Once your funds have been transferred to the new Self-Directed IRA account with IRA Financial Trust, you will then direct IRA Financial Trust Company to purchase an interest is a newly established Limited Liability Company (“LLC”). The IRA will own the LLC and the LLC will be managed by the IRA holder or a third-party, as set forth in the LLC Operating Agreement. Once the IRA funds have been invested in the LLC by IRA Financial Trust, the manager of the LLC will be able to purchase the real estate directly by simply writing a check or sending a wire to the seller of the real estate.
Below is a summary of how real estate is purchased with a Self-Directed IRA LLC Checkbook Control account with IRA Financial Trust Company:
- Establish your Self-Directed IRA account with IRA Financial Trust Company
- Identify the investment property
- Work with a Self-Directed IRA facilitation company, such as IRA Financial Group, or a tax attorney to help establish your special purpose LLC, acquire the LLC Tax ID#, and draft the LLC Operating Agreement.
- Open a bank account for your LLC at any local bank of your choice
- Direct IRA Financial Trust Company, as custodian of your Self-Directed IRA Checkbook Control account, to transfer the funds to the LLC account in return for a 100% interest in the LLC
- The manager of the IRA LLC can purchase the investment property with the Self-Directed IRA LLC – no need to involve IRA Financial Trust in the real estate acquisition transaction
- Title to the investment property and all transaction documents should be in the name of the Self-Directed IRA LLC. Documents pertaining to the property investment must be signed by the LLC manager
- All expenses paid from the investment property go through the Self-Directed IRA LLC. Likewise, all rental income checks must be deposited directly into the Self-Directed IRA LLC bank account. No IRA related investment checks should be deposited into your personal accounts.
- All income or gains from the investment flow through to the IRA tax-free!
Structuring the Purchase of Real Estate with a Self-Directed IRA
When using a Self-Directed IRA to make a real estate investment there are a number of ways you can structure the transaction. One should consult with a tax professional for more guidance on the best way to structure a Self-Directed IRA real estate transaction:
1. Use your Self-Directed IRA funds to make 100% of the investment
If you have enough funds in your Self-Directed IRA to cover the entire real estate purchase, including closing costs, taxes, fees, insurance, you may make the purchase outright using your Self-Directed IRA. All ongoing expenses relating to the real estate investment must be paid out of your Self-Directed IRA bank account. In addition, all income or gains relating to your real estate investment must be returned to your Self-Directed IRA bank account.
2. Partner with Family, Friends, Colleagues
If you don’t have sufficient funds in your Self-Directed IRA to make a real estate purchase outright, your Self-Directed IRA can purchase an interest in the property along with a family member (non-disqualified person - any family member other than a parent, child, spouse, daughter-in-law, son-in–law), friend, or colleague. The investment would not be made into an entity owned by the IRA owner, but instead would be invested directly into the property.
For example, your Self-Directed IRA could partner with a family member (non disqualified person - any family member other than a parent, child, spouse, daughter-in-law, son-in–law), friend, or colleague to purchase a piece of property for $150,000. Your Self-Directed IRA LLC could purchase an interest in the property (i.e. 50% for $75,000) and your family member, friend, or colleague could purchase the remaining interest (i.e. 50% for $75,000).
All income or gain from the property would be allocated to the parties in relation to their percentage of ownership in the property. Likewise, all property expenses must be paid in relation to the parties’ percentage of ownership in the property. Based on the above example, for a $2,000 property tax bill, the Self-Directed IRA would be responsible for 50% of the bill ($1000) and the family member, friend, or colleague would be responsible for the remaining $1000 (50%).
Isn’t Partnering with a Family Member in a Real Estate Transaction a Prohibited Transaction?
Likely not if the transaction is structured correctly. Investing in an investment entity with a family member and investing in an investment property directly are two different transaction structures that impact whether the transaction will be prohibited under Code Section 4975. The different tax treatment is based on who currently owns the investment. Using a Self-Directed IRA to invest in an entity that is owned by a family member who is a disqualified person will likely be treated as a prohibited transaction. However, partnering with a family member that is a non-disqualified person directly into an investment property would likely not be a prohibited transaction. Note: If you, a family member, or other disqualified person already owns a property, then investing in that property with your Self-Directed IRA LLC would be prohibited.
3. Borrow Money for your Self-Directed IRA
You may obtain financing through a loan or mortgage to finance a real estate purchase using a Self-Directed IRA. However, two important points must be considered when selecting this option:
- Loan must be non-recourse – A “prohibited transaction” is a transaction that, directly or indirectly involves the loan of money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person. Normally, when an individual purchases real estate with a mortgage, the traditional loan provides for recourse against the borrower (i.e., personal liability for the mortgage). However, if the IRA purchases real estate and secures a mortgage for the purchase, the loan must be non-recourse; otherwise there will be a prohibited transaction. A non-recourse loan only uses the property for collateral. In the event of default, the lender can collect only the property and cannot go after the IRA itself.
- Tax is due on profits from leveraged real estate – Pursuant to Code Section 514, if your Self-Directed IRA LLC uses non-recourse debt financing (i.e., a loan) on a real estate investment, some portion of each item of gross income from the property are subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBTI). "Debt-financed property" refers to borrowing money to purchase the real estate (i.e., a leveraged asset that is held to produce income). In such cases, only the income attributable to the financed portion of the property is taxed; gain on the profit from the sale of the leveraged assets is also UDFI (unless the debt is paid off more than 12 months before the property is sold). There are some important exceptions from UBTI: those exclusions relate to the central importance of investment in real estate - dividends, interest, annuities, royalties, most rentals from real estate, and gains/losses from the sale of real estate. However, rental income generated from real estate that is “debt financed” loses the exclusion, and that portion of the income becomes subject to UBTI. Thus, if the IRA borrows money to finance the purchase of real estate, the portion of the rental income attributable to that debt will be taxable as UBTI.
For example, if the average acquisition indebtedness is $50 and the average adjusted basis is $100, 50 percent of each item of gross income from the property is included in UBTI.
A Self-Directed IRA is subject to UBTI is taxed at the Trust tax rate because an IRA is considered a Trust. For 2016, a Self-Directed IRA LLC subject to UBTI is taxed at the following rates:
- $0 - $2,500 = 15% of taxable income
- $2,501 - $5,900 = $375 + 25% of the amount over $2500
- $5,901 - $9,050 = $1,225 + 28% of the amount over $5,900
- $9,051 - $12,300 = $2,107 + 33% of the amount over $9,050
- $12,300 + = $3,179.50 + 39.6% of the amount over $12,30
Before using a Self-Directed IRA to purchase real estate, one should consult with his/her financial or tax advisor to make sure the investment is suitable and right for you.