Can I Hold a Gold ETF in an IRA?

Gold has long been seen as an excellent way to protect wealth in times of economic instability, yet physical gold requires secure storage space and is difficult to transport.

Gold ETFs provide an attractive investment solution, but are they eligible to be held within an IRA? In this article we explore the tax repercussions associated with doing so.


Gold investors must consider the tax implications when holding precious metals in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). While initially restricted investments in collectibles in an IRA, an exception introduced in 1986 allowed for investing in US gold and silver coins – this was then expanded in 1998 to cover bullion with purity of at least 99.5%.

Investing in physical gold requires additional expenses, including storage and insurance fees for housing and insuring your investment. Furthermore, gold ETFs that operate physical mines typically charge fees to cover their maintenance costs associated with precious metal reserves.

These fees may be necessary in order to keep precious metals physically safe, but they can significantly decrease your after-tax returns. To maximize returns and minimize fees associated with ownership, try investing in an ETF that does not store physical gold (such as Vanguard Precious Metals and Mining Fund (VGPMX)). In this way, you’ll still reap all the advantages associated with an IRA without incurring physical ownership fees.


Gold doesn’t pay dividends, which negates its tax-advantaged growth potential like that provided by stocks and mutual funds eligible for an IRA. Furthermore, physical gold requires storage fees and insurance costs that need to be factored in, and it can often require multiple steps when buying and selling it.

An ETF gives investors exposure to gold without all of the associated fees or hassle. Furthermore, an ETF may offer more liquid investment options and potentially offer higher returns.

While IRAs typically do not permit investments in collectibles, there is an exception which allows IRAs to hold certain US gold coins and bullion. Most standard custodians don’t handle physical metals so you would need a self-directed IRA provider that specializes in precious metals IRAs; Augusta Precious Metals or Lear Capital may provide such options; just make sure that any fees associated with each account before making your decision.


Gold IRAs require extensive paperwork, trust and responsibility from investors to maintain them properly. It’s best suited for experienced investors who understand how precious metals work within an investment portfolio. Leveraged gold ETFs that use derivatives or borrowed money to speculate on price movements should be avoided at all costs; similarly exchange-traded notes (ETNs).

Gold IRA companies often charge fees for purchasing, selling and storing physical assets within your account – this increases how much your investments need to appreciate before yielding profits – plus, should the need arise, high capital gains taxes may apply when liquidating them – potentially devastating your retirement savings account if you’re active trader! For an easier approach when investing in precious metals IRAs seek an established company offering low cost transparent investing strategies – like those provided by Platinum Trust of Australia Ltd (PTAustralia).


Gold ETFs give you access to information about the price of gold in a similar manner as how stocks are traded; you can buy and sell shares regularly using your preferred broker, and utilize dollar cost averaging.

Only downside of investing in precious metals is their inability to generate any form of income or interest, making them an unsuitable replacement for more diversified retirement investments such as traditional IRAs.

There was some concern among investors that owning physical precious metals in an IRA would be treated as the acquisition of collectibles, leading to tax implications upon withdrawal. To alleviate these fears, the IRS issued Private Letter Ruling 200732026 which stipulates that IRAs can own precious metal ETFs classified as grantor investment trusts such as SPDR Gold Trust GLD +0.05% and iShares Silver Trust SLV -0.98% without being considered collectibles and subject to taxable distributions. This allowed investors to invest without fear that collectibles might be treated as collectibles or subject to tax implications when withdrawal occurs from an IRA account.

Raymond Banks Administrator
Raymond Banks is a published author in the commodity world. He has written extensively about gold and silver investments, and his work has been featured in some of the most respected financial journals in the industry. Raymond\\\'s expertise in the commodities market is highly sought-after, and he regularly delivers presentations on behalf of various investment firms. He is also a regular guest on financial news programmes, where he offers his expert insights into the latest commodity trends.

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