A Self-Directed IRA LLC offers one the ability to use his or her retirement funds to make almost any type of investment on their own without requiring the consent of any custodian or person. The IRS only describes the type of investments that are prohibited, which are very few. The main advantages of using a self-directed IRA to make investments is that one can generate tax-deferred or tax-free gains on investments one knows and understands.
For 2017, the following are some examples of types of investments that can be made with your Self-Directed IRA LLC:
- Residential or commercial real estate
- Domestic or Foreign real estate
- Raw land
- Foreclosure property
- Mortgage pools
- Hard money lending
- Private loans
- Tax liens
- Private businesses
- Limited Liability Companies
- Limited Liability Partnerships
- Private placements
- Precious metals and certain coins
- Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
- Foreign currencies
- Hedge Funds
- Private Equity Funds
Using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to make investments offers the investor the ability to make traditional as well as non-traditional investments, such as real estate, in a tax-efficient manner.
Below are some of the most popular reasons to purchase non-traditional assets with your Self-Directed IRA LLC.
In general, most Americans have an enormous amount of financial exposure to the financial markets. Whether it is through retirement investments, such as IRAs or 401(k) plans, or personal savings, many of us have most of our savings connected in some way to the stock market. In fact, over 90% of retirement assets are invested in the financial markets. With over $20 trillion in retirement assets as of 2013, you can see the scope of that exposure. Investing in non-traditional assets, such as real estate, offers a form of investment diversification from the equity markets. In general, the more diversified your portfolio, the greater chance that your assets will offer lower correlation, meaning they are less likely to move in the same direction. However, diversification does not assure profit or protect against loss. The use of non-traditional asset classes can help protect your portfolio when the market is down and help protect you from losing more than the market.
Invest in Something You Understand
Many Americans became frustrated with the equity markets after the 2008 financial crisis. Thankfully, we have seen the financial markets rebound since then and have even seem some years of over 20% growth in the equity markets. Nevertheless, many Americans are still somewhat shell-shocked from the market swings and not 100% sure what exactly goes on in Wall Street and how it all works. Real estate, for comparison, is often a more comfortable investment for the lower and middle classes because they grew up exposed to it, whereas the upper classes often learned about Wall Street and other securities during their younger years and college days. Everyone has heard someone talk about the importance of owning a home or the amount of money that can be made by owning real estate. From Donald Trump to reality TV, real estate is fast becoming mainstream and one of the most trusted asset classes for Americans. It is, of course, not without risk, but many retirement investors feel more comfortable understanding the real estate market and buying and selling real estate than they do stocks.
Rising food and energy prices, coupled with high federal debt levels and low interest rates, have recently fueled new inflationary fears. As a result, some investors may be looking for ways to protect their portfolios from the ravages of inflation. It is a matter of guesswork to estimate whether these inflation risks are real, but for some retirement investors, protecting retirement assets from inflation is a big concern. Inflation can have a nasty impact on a retirement portfolio because it means a dollar today may not be worth a dollar tomorrow. Inflation also increases the cost of things that are necessary for humans to live and enjoy life, such as bread, gas, shelter, clothing, medical services, etc., decreasing the value of money so that goods and services cost more. For example, if someone had an IRA worth $250,000 at a time of high inflation, that $250,000 will be worth significantly less or have significantly less buying power. This can mean the difference between retiring and working the rest of your life. Buying hard assets is seen as one way of protecting your assets against inflation. Many investors have long recognized that investing in commercial real estate can provide a natural protection against inflation, as rents tend to increase when prices do, acting as a hedge against inflation.
Many non-traditional assets, such as real estate and precious metals are tangible hard assets that you can see and touch. With real estate, for example, you can drive by with your family, point out the window, and say “I own that”. For some, that’s important psychologically especially in times of financial instability, inflation, or political or global upheaval.
Tax deferral literally means that you are putting off paying tax. The most common types of tax-deferred investments include those in IRAs or Qualified Retirement Plans (i.e. 401(k)). Tax-deferral means that all income, gains, and earnings, such as interest, dividends, rental income, royalties or capital gains, will accumulate tax-free until the investor or IRA owner withdraws the funds and takes possession of them. As long as the funds remain in the retirement account, the funds will grow tax-free. This allows your retirement funds to grow at a much faster pace than if the funds were held personally, allowing you to build for your retirement more quickly. And, when you withdraw your IRA funds in the form of a distribution after you retire, you will likely be in a lower tax bracket and be able to keep more of what you accumulated. So, with using a Traditional IRA as a retirement savings vehicle, not only are you not paying taxes on the money you invested, you could be paying them at a lower rate when you finally do “take home” your money.
As long as the funds remain in the account, they grow without taxes eroding their value. This enables assets to accumulate at a faster pace, giving you an edge when saving for the long term. And, when you withdraw funds after you retire, you’ll likely be in a lower tax bracket and be able to keep more of what you’ve accumulated.
The concept of tax deferral is premised on the notion that all income and gains generated by the pre-tax retirement account investment would generally flow back into the retirement account tax-free. Instead of paying tax on the returns of a Self-Directed IRA investment, such as real estate, tax is paid only at a later date, leaving the investment to grow unhindered. For example, if an IRA investor invested $100,000 into a Self-Directed IRA LLC in 2017 and the account earns $10,000 in 2017, the investor would not owe tax on that $10,000 in 2017. Instead, the Self-Directed IRA investor would be required to pay the taxes when he or she withdraws the money from the IRA, which could be many years later. For example purposes, assuming the IRA investor mentioned above is in a 33% federal income tax bracket, she would have had to pay $3,333 in federal income taxes on the $10,000 earned on the IRA in 2017. That would have left $6,667 in the account. At a 8% annual return, those earnings would go on to produce $533.36 in 2017. However, because IRAs are tax deferred, the self-directed IRA investor is able to earn a return on the full $10,000 rather than the $533.36 she would have had if she had to pay taxes that year. At a 8% annual return, she'd earn $800 in 2017. The beauty of tax deferral is that the deferral compounds each year.
The following examples illustrate the powerful advantage of tax-deferred contributions and compounding through a Traditional IRA versus making contributions to a taxable account.
Joe is 40 years old and makes a $5,000 contribution to an IRA. Joe is in a 30% federal income tax bracket. Joe invests his IRA funds and receives a 6% average annual return. When Joe retires at age 70, his $5,000 contribution would be worth $21, 609.71. If Joe invested the $5,000 personally, the account would only be worth $14,033.97.
Jane is 35 years old and makes a $5,000 contribution to an IRA. Assume Jane makes a $5,000 contribution to her IRA each year until she reaches the age of 70. Jane is in a 30% federal income tax bracket. Further assume that Jane was able to generate a 7% average annual return on her investment. When Jane retires at the age of 70, her IRA account would be worth $792,950.21. If Jane made these $5,000 contributions though a taxable account, the account would only be worth $490,707.49.
Tax deferred investments though a self-directed IRA LLC generally help investors generate higher returns. That's because the money that would normally be used for tax payments is instead allowed to remain in the account and earn a return.
The IRS permits using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to purchase real estate or raw land. Real estate is the most popular investment made with a Self-Directed IRA. Making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check. Since you are the manager of your Self-Directed IRA LLC, you have the authority to make investment decisions on behalf of your IRA. One major advantage of purchasing real estate with a Self-Directed IRA is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (Traditional IRA distributions are not required until the IRA owner turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, all gains are tax-free.
For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Self-Directed IRA for $75,000 and later sold the property for $150,000, the $75,000 of gain would generally be tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income taxes and in most cases state income tax.
The IRS permits the purchase of tax liens and tax deeds with a Self-Directed IRA LLC. By using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to purchase tax-liens or tax deeds, your profits are tax-deferred back into your retirement account until a distribution is taken (Traditional IRA distributions are not required until the IRA owner turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, all income and gains received would be tax-free.
More importantly, with a Self-Directed IRA LLC, you, as the manager of the IRA LLC, will have "checkbook control" over your IRA funds allowing you to make purchases on the spot without custodian consent. In other words, purchasing a tax-lien or tax deed is as easy as writing a check!
Loans & Notes
The IRS permits the use of IRA funds to make loans or purchase notes from third parties. By using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to make loans or purchase notes from third parties, all interest payments received would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (Traditional IRA distributions are not required until the IRA owner turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, all interest received would be tax-free.
For example, if you used a Self-Directed IRA LLC to loan money to a friend, all interest received would flow back into your IRA tax-free. Whereas, if you lent your friend money from personal funds (non-retirement funds), the interest received would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.
With a Self-Directed IRA LLC you are permitted to purchase an interest in a privately held business. The business can be established as any entity other than an S Corporation (i.e. limited liability company, C Corporation, partnership, etc.). When investing in a private business using IRA funds, it is important to keep in mind the “Disqualified Person” and “Prohibited Transaction” rules under IRC 4975 and the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512. The retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will work with you to develop the most tax-efficient structure for using your IRA to invest in a private business.
Precious Metals & Coins
Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m) lists the type of precious metals and coins that are permitted investments using IRA funds:
- One, one-half, one-quarter or one-tenth ounce U.S. gold coins (American Gold Eagle coins are the only gold coins specifically approved for IRAs. Other gold coins, to be eligible as IRA investments, must be at least .995 fine (99.5% pure) and be legal tender coins.
- one ounce silver coins minted by the Treasury Department;
- any coin issued under the laws of any state;
- a platinum coin described in 31 USCS 5112(k) ; and
- gold, silver, platinum or palladium bullion (other than bullion that is made into a coin) of a certain fineness that is in the physical possession of a trustee that meets the requirements for IRA trustees under Code Sec. 408(a).
By using a self-directed IRA or Solo 401(k) plan to purchase IRS approved precious metals or coins, one is able to seemingly better diversify their retirement portfolio as well as generate tax-free gains on the sale of the metals or coins.
Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m) identifies the types of coins and precious metals that may be purchased using a Self-Directed IRA.
Section 408(m)(3)(A) lists the type of coins that may be purchased with retirement funds, which generally are American Eagle and U.S. state minted coins of a certain finesse. The Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988 also allowed for the purchase of state minted coins. Whereas, IRC 408(m)(3)(B), refers to gold, silver, or palladium bullion of a certain finesse which must be held in the “physical possession” of a U.S. trustee, as described under subsection IRC 408(a), and which essentially refers to a bank, financial institution, depository, or approved trust company.
IRA Financial Group suggests that all clients seeking to purchase IRS approved coins or precious metals/bullion with their retirement account hold them in the physical possession of a trustee, such as a depository. The IRS, as outlined in IRC 408(m)(3)(B) clearly does not allow any individual to hold IRS approved coins or precious metals/bullion personally, such as in their house. However, the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988 Senate amendment seems to suggest that state minted coins can be held by a person other than the IRA holder, without referencing the term trustee, as defined in IRC Section 408. Nevertheless, we recommend that IRS approved coins should not be held personally by the IRA holder and should be held at a trustee, as defined in IRC 408.
For Self-Directed IRA LLC or self-directed Solo 401(k) plan clients seeking to hold IRS approved coins and precious metals at a bank safe deposit box, we believe that this position has some risk, as the IRS has not offered any formal guidance. In the case of a Self-Directed IRA, if the bank where the safe deposit box is not the trustee of the IRA that purchased the metals or coins, an argument can be made that the metals or coins would not satisfy the physical possession definition outlined in IRC section 408 since the bank could not serve as the IRA trustee. This argument would seemingly not have much strength in the case of a Solo 401(k) plan, where an individual or individuals associated with the adopting employer would likely serve as the plan trustee and not the bank holding the plan’s assets, thus not creating any trustee relationship between the bank and the plan, but still satisfying the definition of a trustee under IRC 408. In addition, the language in IRC Section 408(m)(3)(B) uses the term “a” trustee” and not the “the” trustee” offering some support for the position that the metals/bullion can be held at any trustee, as defined under IRC 408(a) and not just the trustee of the IRA holding the metals. This would make sense since a depository is considered a trustee pursuant to IRC 408(a), but may not be the actual trustee of the IRA that owns the coins or bullion/precious metals. Nevertheless, the safest approaching to holding IRS approved coins or bullion/precious metals is at a trustee, as defined in IRC Section 408, such as an approved depository. One thing that is clear, is the one should not ever hold IRS approved coins or precious metals/bullion personally.
In general, the rules surrounding the ownership and possession of IRS precious metals or coins are complicated. Therefore, it is crucial that one works with a firm, such as IRA Financial Group, that has the expertise and resources to help one navigate the IRS rules without being preoccupied with selling you coins or precious metals.
The advantage of using a Self-Directed IRA LLC with “checkbook control” to purchase precious metals and/or coins is that their values generally keep up with, or exceed, inflation rates better than other investments. In addition, the metals and/or coins can be held in the name of the LLC at a financial organization (at any local bank) safe deposit box eliminating depository fees.
The IRS does not prevent the use of IRA funds to purchase foreign currencies, including Iraqi Dinars. Many believe that foreign currency investments offer liquidity advantages to the stock market as well as significant investment opportunities.
Purchasing foreign currency, such as the Iraqi Dinar, with a Self-Directed IRA LLC is as easy as writing a check. As manager of the IRA LLC, you will have “checkbook control” over your IRA funds, providing you with the ability to make investments without requiring custodian consent. In addition, the foreign currency notes, including Iraqi Dinars, can be held in the name of the LLC at a financial organization (any local bank) safe deposit box eliminating depository fees.
By using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to purchase foreign currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, all foreign currency gains generated would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (Traditional IRA distributions are not required until the IRA owner turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, all foreign currency gains would be tax-free.
On March 25, 2014, the IRS issued Notice 2014-21, which, for the first time, set forth the IRS position on the taxation of bitcoins. According to the IRS, “Virtual Currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes,” the notice said. "General tax principles that apply to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency." By treating bitcoins as property and not currency, the IRS is providing a potential boost to investors but it also imposing extensive record-keeping rules - and significant taxes - on its use. With IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed IRA LLC bitcoin solution, traditional IRA or Roth IRA funds can be used to buy bitcoins without tax.
IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed IRA LLC for bitcoin investors, is an IRS approved structure that allows one to use their retirement funds to make bitcoin and other investments tax-free and without custodian consent. The Self-Directed IRA LLC involves the establishment of a limited liability company (“LLC”) that is owned by the IRA (care of the IRA custodian) and managed by the IRA holder or any third-party. As manager of the IRA LLC, the IRA owner will have control over the IRA assets to make traditional as well as non-traditional investments, such as real estate.
Using IRA Financial Group’s self directed IRA LLC with “Checkbook Control” solution to make bitcoin investments offers a number of very interesting investment opportunities, including the ability to diversify one’s retirement portfolio with real estate, precious metals, and other alternative investment options.
Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CDs
In addition to non-traditional investments such as real estate, a Self-Directed IRA LLC may purchase stock, bonds, mutual funds, and CDs. The advantage of using a Self-Directed IRA LLC with “Checkbook Control” is that you are not limited to just making these types of investments. With a Self-Directed IRA LLC with “checkbook control” you can open a stock trading account with any financial institution as well as purchase real estate, buy tax liens, or lend money to a third-party. Your investment opportunities are endless!