What Are You Not Allowed to Put Into a Self Directed IRA?

Some are surprised to learn that IRAs can hold alternative assets like real estate and promissory notes; however, these come with their own set of regulations; investing in them may pose greater risks and involve higher fees compared to traditional investments.

Be mindful of any prohibited transactions and disqualified persons that could void your IRA’s tax-advantaged status.


IRAs contain rules and guidelines designed to avoid transactions that violate them, which could incur steep tax penalties or disqualify an IRA altogether. Unfortunately, a GAO study revealed that many self-directed IRA custodians are selling alternative investments without conducting sufficient due diligence in order to ascertain that such assets are permissible within your IRA and do not constitute prohibited transactions.

Self-dealing refers to purchasing investment assets for personal gain that benefit you directly (also called self-dealing). Lending money directly out of an IRA and using its funds for expenses are also considered forms of self-dealing that violate IRS regulations.

Self-dealing should be especially avoided when working with financial advisors as they are required to adhere to fiduciary standards intended to protect you against self-dealing by their employees or contractors. If either yourself or an advisor engage in self-dealing, their entire fee could become subject to immediate distribution taxes by the IRS and potentially become tax deductible as an immediate distribution.

Indirect benefits

Certain activities that could disqualify a self-directed IRA and trigger a 10% tax penalty include indirect benefits, prohibited transactions and investments in collectibles. Individuals should never benefit personally from investments made within their self-directed IRAs and must avoid doing business with disqualified people such as you, spouse, immediate family members and anyone who may be related or conducts transactions with disqualified entities. Furthermore, no property owned by your IRA should ever be used for personal gain – these rules also apply if your spouse owns property held within their IRA.

These rules are meant to prevent unfair advantages and keep anyone within your family tree from benefiting from an IRA account. If you violate them, the IRS will consider your IRA to have been distributed and tax on its assets will become due immediately; to prevent this, only invest in asset classes and transactions that have been authorized by them.

Disqualified persons

The IRS does not want you or your family to benefit directly from transactions that take place within your self-directed IRA, which is why they impose rules such as disqualified persons and prohibited transactions to enforce arm’s length standards and ensure you do not personally benefit from your retirement fund before retirement.

Disqualified parties for your IRA include anyone the IRS would consider your fiduciary or related to you, including spouses of these individuals as well as companies owned or managed by yourself or immediate relatives or providing legal, accounting, or investment management services to your IRA. This would include you as well as anyone related by bloodline who could become fiduciaries to it in any transaction with it. These people include yourself and any family member involved with it such as lineal ascendant/descendents who would qualify. Additionally any entity providing legal/accounting/investment management services could qualify as disqualified parties as they would violate IRS regulations regarding IRA transactions such as legal services provided directly by someone with fiduciaries in terms of IRS rules such as providing fiduciaries services involving IRA funds are disqualified persons subject to their involvement with transaction rules including those owned or related to them and providing legal/accounting/invest management services related directly related or providing legal, accounting/invest management services on an IRA related transaction related transactions such as yourself/spouse any lineal ascendant/ descendant relationship/spouse spouse of such person(s), etc… any entity providing legal/accounting/invest management services such as legal/ac/invest management services provided via an IRA account/investments management services to an IRA/or provided to or the transactions/transaction.

Advanta IRA’s experienced custodian can assist in helping you understand who constitutes disqualified individuals so as to not violate any prohibited transaction rules.

Real estate

Self-directed IRAs (SDIRAs) allow investors to diversify beyond stocks and mutual funds available through regular or managed IRAs by investing in alternative assets like real estate, mortgages and startups. Unfortunately, however, tax rules governing these investments are complicated and failure to comply could cost you dearly; so working with a trusted custodian like IRAR will ensure compliance while helping avoid prohibited transactions that may ruin your retirement account and incur fees and penalties.

Another key consideration when investing in alternative assets is liquidity. Since these assets tend to be illiquid, selling them when necessary could take considerable time. You should verify the information your custodian provides about the value of your investments – either their original purchase price or any valuation provided by promoters; any valuation exceeding its initial purchase price should be avoided.

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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