What Investments Cannot Be Held in an IRA?

Investors should steer clear of investments such as collectibles and real estate, capital investments in S corporations, life insurance policy purchases through an IRA account and co-investing with disqualified persons.

IRS rules list many prohibited transactions, yet self-directed IRA investors can find innovative solutions to investing in nontraditional assets.


An Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, cannot hold certain items such as life insurance, collectibles (artworks, antiques, metals other than certain kinds of bullion, gems, stamps and coins other than bullion), tangible personal property and real estate that is in the holder’s name or owned by anyone disqualified by law.

Disqualified parties include you, your spouse, any lineal descendent and their spouses as well as fiduciaries such as your custodian; companies owned jointly with disqualified persons which account for more than 50%; as well as companies you co-own together that meet this criteria. Transactions involving any disqualified party such as purchasing from or lending money to these disqualified persons could constitute prohibited transactions which result in your IRA losing its tax-favored status and would need to be reported accordingly.

Self-directed IRAs may invest in commercial paper, though it’s best to consult a CPA first in order to avoid engaging in any prohibited transactions. Commercial paper is a type of short-term debt instrument typically sold at discounted prices by established corporations.

Real estate

Real estate investments with self directed IRAs can be made, though the IRS has many rules regarding such investments. One rule states that you cannot live in any property owned by your IRA despite paying rent as this would constitute an illegal transaction. Furthermore, your IRA cannot sell, exchange or lease its owned real estate to related parties such as family members and disqualified people – this prohibition includes related transactions.

Additionally, your IRA cannot lend money to any related entity such as an LLC or S-corp for lending may provide financial benefits to disqualified people and is thus prohibited. Furthermore, your IRA cannot invest in collectibles or capital investments in subchapter S corporations (unless they meet specific shareholder restrictions) which is another example of prohibited transactions within an IRA account. These rules all contribute to making investing real estate with an IRA more complex – so if you decide to pursue this route make sure that you work with knowledgeable professional and follow all relevant rules and restrictions set forth before embarking upon this investment venture!


The IRS and Department of Labor provide extremely specific rules pertaining to investments made with IRA funds. Any investment which does not fall within these parameters could constitute a prohibited transaction and compromise an IRA’s tax-exempt status; even if they don’t engage in self-dealing or contribute unrelated business taxable income (UBTI).

An Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, can only invest in products with established markets like stocks, mutual funds, bank certificates of deposit, select coins and real estate. Furthermore, an IRA cannot lend any money directly or lend it out to anyone considered disqualified – including your spouse, children and lineal descendants.

An IRA cannot invest in partnerships or corporations where its owner owns at least 50% interest, nor bitcoin or any other digital assets without contributing cash first to their account.

Other investments

CPAs typically understand traditional investments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds; however, lesser-known vehicles could provide retirement plan clients with appealing investments. CPAs should remain informed on these lesser-known vehicles so they can provide their clients with expert advice.

Life insurance (an IRA owner is prohibited from investing in his or her own or his family member’s policies), leveraged real estate, and certain coins cannot be held within an IRA account. Furthermore, an IRA cannot invest in companies in which an IRA owner owns more than 10% or manages any portion.

An IRA cannot lend to anyone considered disqualified, which includes anyone up and down the family tree. Any prohibited transaction may incur a 15% excise tax; exceptions to this rule include one-half, one-quarter or one-tenth ounce gold coins meeting purity standards as well as commercial paper.

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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