Can I Use My IRA to Invest in a Startup?

Under IRS Prohibited Transaction rules, it is generally not permissible for you to invest traditional pre-tax IRA funds into a startup company of your own creation.

Madison Trust provides self-directed IRA custodian services that allow investors to use their retirement account (IRA) funds to invest in startups or crowdfunding opportunities, although this requires careful consideration of risks vs benefits.


However, while traditional pre-tax IRA funds cannot be invested directly in your own company without getting special permission from the IRS, investing via self-directed IRA or Solo 401(k) gives greater flexibility to use retirement funds to invest in alternative assets like startups. Early investors in an emerging company that goes public or is acquired can realize significant returns – and when investing through self-directed accounts is combined with early participation with large dividends for original investors!

Investments in startups may take the form of either equity or debt investments, with equity investments taxed similar to stocks at either capital gains rates depending on how long they are held; and for debt investments gains taxed according to your ordinary income tax rates.

As with any investment, state regulations may govern your IRA investments in startups. Therefore, it’s important that you speak with a financial professional familiar with state regulations in your state in order to maximize any tax benefits of this form of investment.


Launching your own business can be both exciting and fulfilling; however, many aspiring entrepreneurs face difficulty accessing sufficient funding. Traditional bank loans may not be an option, while personal savings accounts usually fall short. One alternative may be using an IRA to invest in startup companies. Madison Trust can assist in exploring options available to you to invest in startups or crowdfunding opportunities through your IRA account.

Before using an IRA to invest in startups or crowdfunding opportunities, several criteria must be fulfilled. First and foremost is using a self-directed IRA custodian such as Madison Trust; disqualified persons include the owner and lineal heirs. Furthermore, unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI), taxed up to 37% depending on its source may apply – however this tax usually is minor when investing in startups and will not impact gains that an investor receives when the startup is sold off.


Investment through your Self-Directed IRA in a private company or start-up can provide both parties with significant benefits: for the IRA owner it diversifies their portfolio while potentially increasing profitability; while for the startup it provides vital financial coverage that could keep it afloat.

However, when investing in startups it is essential to conduct thorough due diligence and consult a tax or financial expert prior to making any definitive decisions.

Second, it is essential to be familiar with the IRS’s rules regarding prohibited transactions. Your traditional pre-tax IRA cannot be used directly for investments into your own business; however, special self-directed IRAs allow more leeway in investing into alternative assets like startup companies and crowdfunding opportunities.

Due Diligence

Investment of an IRA into a start-up or private company requires meticulous due diligence and expert advice. A self-directed IRA custodian that specializes in alternative assets and small business funding may help with this process, with low fees, experience with business startup investments and exceptional customer service being key criteria for consideration.

Before investing in a startup, be sure to review its financial projections and long-term growth trends as well as bios of management and ownership. Also note any large differences in valuation between your chosen venture and any competitors.

Avoid investing more than once in the same startup with your IRA as this could breach prohibited transaction rules and could violate prohibited transaction regulations. Furthermore, do not use your IRA to invest in startups where you receive compensation personally (sweat equity) or lend money directly to them as these investments may constitute unrelated business income tax (UBTI), which can incur higher rates of taxation upon taxation.

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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