Can I Sell an Asset to My IRA?

Your self-directed IRA allows you to sell any asset as long as it complies with prohibited transaction rules, although real estate investments can present special challenges since most lenders do not permit mortgage loans to IRAs.

Effectively, to avoid violating prohibited transaction rules you should transact with third parties that do not share a relationship. Here are some examples:


There may be tax ramifications associated with selling assets to an IRA. For instance, your IRA must file its own return if its UBIT income (common in real estate activities) requires filing. Furthermore, self-dealing cannot occur; instead the property should only be used for investment purposes and should never be used personally – otherwise known as self-dealing.

Rules also exist which prohibit certain transactions with disqualified parties, which include you as the IRA owner, its beneficiaries and spouse, descendants and fiduciaries like your custodian. These transactions are known as prohibited transactions and can be found in IRC 4975.

When purchasing real estate using an IRA, leverage is key in order to reduce expenses. Lending must come from within your IRA otherwise there may be rules which prevent depreciation and property tax deductions as well as sweat equity projects on the property because an IRA doesn’t permit working directly on its assets.


Alternative assets may be more illiquid and difficult to value than stocks and mutual funds, which poses a problem when considering retirement planning needs of participants during retirement and their heirs after death. Collectibles and real estate are particularly illiquid investments compared to stocks and mutual funds.

Investments like securities can be easily converted to cash thanks to an established market price and numerous buyers and sellers, while others require more complex arrangements for buying and selling them.

One of the greatest challenges when investing is dealing with prohibited transactions. These deals involve your IRA and disqualified persons such as family or friends and can violate the exclusive benefit rule, leading to penalties from both the IRS or Department of Labor as well as unrelated debt financed income tax (UDFI/UBIT). It’s essential that investors understand these rules prior to investing in nontraditional assets like private equity, collectibles or real estate.


The government imposes specific rules on your IRA, such as prohibited transactions. These transactions include leasing or selling property to certain disqualified individuals (e.g., spouse, lineal descendants or custodian). Furthermore, using rental properties personally or reaping their profits without permission are forbidden activities.

So if you find yourself being drawn in to help with renovation work on an IRA-owned rental property, remember that doing so could violate the sweat equity rule which prevents you from doing work for a property owned by your IRA.

Verifying information, especially prices and asset values provided by your self-directed IRA custodian in account statements, is of utmost importance. Some alternative investments can be difficult to value; be sure to get professional opinions or research tax assessment records for assistance when necessary. Furthermore, any sale proceeds must be deposited back into your IRA via Sell Direction Letter submitted to IRAR with all paperwork vested according to recorded deed.


The IRS enacts strict rules to safeguard retirement savings against self-dealing, quid-pro-quo agreements, or other unsavory dealings taking place with IRAs.

As an example, it is usually illegal to work on property owned by your IRA for personal gain without getting paid, even if this means no financial benefit is received in return. Furthermore, such work could expose you to taxes known as UDFI and UBIT that could potentially apply.

Imagine owning rental property within an IRA. While non-disqualified contractors can perform work on it, no benefit should accrue directly to you or anyone associated with you personally unless used to fund personal investments and cover IRA expenses.

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.

Categorised in: