How Do I Avoid Taxes With a Self-Directed IRA?
Self-directed IRAs allow investors to put away cash before taxes are due, deferring payments until you withdraw them upon retirement. Though self-directed IRAs offer higher potential returns than traditional assets, the greater risk comes with greater return potential.
Alternative investments can often be difficult and intangible investments to value accurately, so whenever possible it is advisable to independently verify information provided by your account statements (like prices or asset valuations).
1. Look for a custodian.
Traditional individual retirement accounts limit your investment options; but with a self-directed IRA, the possibilities become unlimited. Here you can include alternative assets such as real estate and precious metals into the mix, potentially incurring higher fees than more conventional investment vehicles; but be wary: there may be fake custodians out there who do not have your best interests at heart.
Attributes that could signal poor investment decisions include new investment companies with no track record, claims of unrealistically high returns or no third-party oversight.
When searching for a custodian, first check the IRS list of approved nonbank custodians to ensure your chosen firm is on it. Also inquire into their security protocols so you can rest easy knowing your assets will be safe; hackers of consumer data have become too commonplace recently and a good custodian should use encryption technology to safeguard it.
2. Avoid prohibited transactions.
The IRS has stringent rules regarding transactions that could compromise an IRA’s tax-free or deferred status, such as investing in your own business with funds from your IRA or hiring family members to work on its properties. These include transactions that involve disqualified people or present conflicts of interests – for instance investing in oneself through using funds from an IRA account for personal gain, or hiring relatives as contractors on property owned by your IRA.
To avoid potential conflicts of interest when initiating transactions, always ask who stands to benefit and if it involves any disqualified people. If in doubt, seek professional advice first before moving ahead with your plan.
Note that assets held within an IRA should only be used for personal use after retirement age 59 1/2, otherwise you’ll owe taxes plus a 10% IRS penalty if taking an early distribution. Therefore, when selecting investments for self-directed IRAs it’s wise to select liquid investments so you can quickly sell them should needed; collectibles and life insurance policies should generally be avoided as they might take too much time and energy to sell off quickly if need be.
3. Know your limits.
Self-directed IRAs offer more investment choices than their mutual fund and equity counterparts, but can be more complicated to navigate. Therefore, it is crucial that you collaborate with an impartial financial professional in order to fully comprehend all rules and regulations surrounding self-directed IRA investments – this may include prohibited transactions, distribution rules and contribution limits for an IRA contribution plan.
The IRS prohibits you from using assets within your retirement account for personal use. For instance, purchasing a beach house as an investment and then using it yourself would be considered breaking their rules; similarly if providing services on their IRA property – like fixing that broken toilet – that violated these guidelines would also count.
There are other restrictions, too. These include not investing in collectibles (unless you’re an expert), life insurance and real estate you reside in (which would violate a rule called self-dealing prohibition). Violating any of these could incur significant taxes and penalties so it would be wise to consult an experienced financial advisor prior to making any investments of your own.
4. Don’t get carried away.
While self-directed IRAs provide investors with greater investment options than traditional stocks, bonds, and funds offerings, the IRS still imposes specific rules which must be observed. These include avoiding prohibited transactions and understanding your limits.
Example: If your IRA invests in real estate that will then be rented to disqualified persons, such as you or anyone related to you, that investment would constitute a prohibited transaction and violate IRS rules against dealing with disqualified people and using IRA funds for personal gain.
Real estate and precious metal investments tend to be less liquid, meaning that selling them could take some time – this could become problematic when required minimum distributions (RMDs) come due, leaving a retirement account owner vulnerable to paying taxes and penalties as RMDs become due. Therefore, it’s essential that any asset or investment opportunity be thoroughly researched prior to jumping in blindly with both feet.
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