What is Not Allowed With a Self Directed IRA?

Self-directed IRAs give investors greater control of their retirement funds, but must adhere to certain rules. Any violations could lead to penalties and potential disqualification from the account.

One of the most crucial rules that must be observed is not partnering with disqualified persons. Specific prohibited transactions that should be avoided include sweat equity agreements and lending money directly to disqualified people.


Self-directed IRAs allow their owners to invest in a wide array of alternative assets; however, care must be taken not to engage in any prohibited transactions that could incur either financial penalties or disqualify the IRA entirely.

Self-dealing, or the use of an IRA fund for personal gain prior to retirement, is forbidden by the IRS and can incur severe penalties; furthermore, such conduct violates its core purpose and the spirit of its creation.

Investments made within an IRA cannot be used to benefit its owner or any disqualified parties such as spouse, lineal descendants and ascendants; investment advisers/managers; corporations/partnerships/trusts in which he/she owns over 50%; etc.

Annual valuation and verification is especially essential with investments such as real estate and private equity that may not be easily valuated in-house.

Sweat equity

Self-directed IRAs give you greater flexibility and choice in investing your retirement dollars, but not all assets are safe from IRS regulation. Certain transactions could jeopardize its tax-favored status and result in unrelated business income tax (UBIT). For instance, real estate, private placements and venture capital funds cannot be purchased via your IRA without first consulting with tax specialists and legal advice first.

Understanding who counts as disqualified persons is crucial to avoiding prohibited transactions. According to the IRS, disqualified persons include the IRA owner and spouse; any direct descendants, ascendants and spouses of that IRA owner; investment advisers/managers as well as corporations/partnerships/trusts and estates where that owner owns more than 50 percent.

One way to avoid prohibited transactions is to confirm information in your self-directed IRA account statements with independent valuation services from professionals or market experts. Doing this will help avoid mistakes that could revoke its tax-favored status, leading to unrelated income taxes.

Partnering with a disqualified person

The IRS maintains an exhaustive list of disqualified persons and transactions your self-directed IRA cannot engage in, including family members (parents, spouses, children and grandchildren), fiduciaries or service providers to the account as well as direct sales, leasing or exchange of IRA owned property to disqualified people as well as lending money or offering credit from self-directed IRA accounts to disqualified parties.

Due diligence becomes even more vital when selecting nontraditional investments for your IRA, as any violation could incur substantial fines from the IRS. Therefore, seeking professional help from a financial advisor, real estate consultant or attorney before making any investment may help avoid potential violations and conduct a comprehensive analysis to make sure your transaction doesn’t fall within any prohibited categories set by the IRS.

Lending to a disqualified person

Engaging in prohibited transactions with your self-directed IRA could jeopardize its tax-free or tax-deferred status and incur costly penalties. To safeguard against this possibility, it’s crucial to collaborate with an experienced and knowledgeable financial advisor.

Prohibited transactions often include lending money or providing goods and services to an ineligible person, such as lending it or giving goods and services directly. For instance, hiring your son to paint the property would qualify him as disqualified person. Furthermore, lending money from an IRA investment company to one of its directors for personal accounts would constitute prohibited transaction.

Self-directed IRAs cannot invest in certain items, including life insurance contracts and collectibles, in addition to gold, silver and palladium bullion of specific purity; gems; stamps; coins (except certain U.S. minted coins ); or alcohol beverages. While this list is lengthy enough already; additional investments may also be prohibited due to custodian policies or specific regulations.

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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