Posts Tagged ‘self directed ira’

Self-Directed IRA Rules and IRS Regulations

Monday, September 11th, 2017

If you’re new to the retirement world, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of jargon and rules. If you familiarize yourself with the essential rules, you can avoid penalties, and reach your retirement goals.

Disqualified persons

One of the easier ways someone can violate self-directed IRA rules is by not understanding who exactly is a disqualified person. These people include the IRA owner’s parents, spouse, their children, and grandchildren. These people are excluded from benefitting from the IRA owner’s investments, for example, if the IRA owner’s adult child needs a home to rent, and the IRA owner has property in their IRA, their child cannot stay in that investment property.

Investment Types

The first thing you learn about self-directed IRA rules is that you, as the owner, are allowed to invest in pretty much anything you’d like. For the most part, that’s true, but there are limitations and exclusions to keep in mind. The IRS has a handful of basic assets that aren’t allowed:

  • Life insurance
  • Collectible items (like paintings, antiques)
  • Gems and coins

Borrowing and lending money

Borrowing and lending in a self-directed IRA gives the owner the ability to loan their IRA money to non-disqualified persons. How it works is that if pre-agreed to, an IRA can receive a certain amount of principal and interest, just like a bank would. What’s appealing is that the IRA holder chooses who to lend to, the interest rate, the principal amount, length of the loan, payment amount, and frequency, and whether the loan is secured by collateral or not.

The Real Self-Directed IRA Pros and Cons

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Self-directed IRA’s are quickly moving to the forefront of retirement options for working (and in some cases non-working) adults. In an economy where many businesses are cutting back on matching 401Ks for employees, workers can take matters into their own hands with a self-directed IRA account.

A Self-Directed IRA

Self-directed IRAs are Independent Retirement Accounts (IRA), that offer direct control to account owners with investment selection. Unlike other retirement plans where IRA’s offer limited investment options, an SDIRA allows owners the opportunity to choose and manage their own investments. Through this type of IRA, there are rarely limits on the type of investment choices that can be made. Most SDIRA account holders invest their finances into real estate, precious metals, and private placements.

The Benefits

Obviously one of the best benefits of an SDIRA is that you have the power over investments being made. Traditionally, younger and employed account holders take risks with their IRAs and invest in larger or uncertain items. While older adults closer to retirement invest their money in more stable markets to ensure a large amount is left when retirement comes. Regardless of the matter the age bracket or the status the account holders may be in. The choice is theirs on how to invest and potentially grow their retirement funds through a self-directed IRA.

Another benefit to investing retirement money into an SDIRA is that there are often excellent tax advantages for account owners. Through better tax advantages as well as investment options, account holders can work to secure future retirement funds more effectively than other retirement options such.

Lastly, if a self-directed IRA is set up similar to an LLC, the proprietor of the account can have the benefit of checkbook control. Instead of having investment choices discussed with a custodian, account owners can manage the entire account and its corresponding decisions without restriction.

The Disadvantages

As with any investment retirement account, there can be disadvantages. With a self-directed IRA, one of the detriments is the same as its benefit. The ability to have complete control of investment opportunities. Many account owners lack the in-depth knowledge needed to responsibly invest their retirement money. For an example, say an account proprietor has no knowledge of the real estate market. It may be wise to not invest into that market with a self-directed IRA. However, this can be easily rectified by account owners doing research and becoming knowledgeable about potential markets before the investment process.

Another disadvantage can be that there are several codes, rules, and regulations that accompany a self-directed IRA. Without becoming educated, comprehending and adhering to these rules, it can cause problems for retirement accounts.

Self-Directed IRAs

Self-directed IRA’s are quickly moving to the forefront of retirement options for people across America. It is through this type of IRA account that investment decisions can be made by account holders. There are several benefits to this type of retirement alternative and with proper research. It can be a wonderful asset to a financially successful retirement plan.

A Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Gold

Monday, January 18th, 2016

beginning gold - square

Only 18 days into 2016, and we can already say that it’s been a rocky year. The world is going through rough times in many ways; the second episode of the Chinese stock market crash last week has spooked stock investors across the globe. Bond yield spreads are rising, adding to investors’ fears of bigger defaults in the bond markets. And at the same time, leaving cash idle in the bank isn’t earning savers anything. With interest rates under one percent and inflation close to two percent, investors who are stashing cash stand to lose all of its worth in real terms.

In times like these, gold bullion might be looking like the next best alternative for your investment portfolio.

Bullion investing is basically gaining financial exposure to precious metals—primarily, gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Of these, gold offers the most liquidity.

1. Physical Gold

The simplest and most direct form of gold investing is in buying gold jewelry, gold bars, with an IRA, or gold coins—jewelry from a jewelry store, bars from a bank or a dealer, through your self-directed IRA administrator, or coins from a dealer.

Coins are the most commonly held form of physical gold, after, of course, jewelry. The best options are the American Eagle, American Buffalo, and Canadian Gold Maple Leaf coins.

When looking for a coin dealer, always seek one who offers the best bargain value. Albeit small, dealers charge premiums on coins above the spot gold price, meaning that you’ll be buying these coins at a price higher than the current market price of gold. In order for you to make money on your investment, the spot price of gold must increase enough to cover the premium you paid. This is why you should look for a dealer who is selling coins for the lowest premium.

2. Gold ETFs

If you don’t want to buy physical gold, you may gain indirect exposure to gold through exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

ETFs indirectly track the price of a basket of assets. Gold ETFs, in particular, come in three forms: 1) those backed by physical gold, meaning they track gold’s spot price; 2) those backed by gold miners’ stocks, such that they track the stock prices of a handful of prominent gold mining companies; and 3) those backed by gold futures, meaning they track the prices of derivative contracts that speculate the future price of gold.

3. Gold Stocks

The third possible way to add gold to your investment portfolio is to buy gold stocks. By “gold stocks,” I mean companies that are involved in the mining, exploration, development, and production of gold.

The risk involved here is that like any other listed company, gold stocks are exposed to stock market fluctuations. The same rules of investment will apply here that apply to any stock on the stock market, in that you’ll have to weigh the financials and fundamentals before jumping into any of these stocks.

4. Gold Derivatives

Finally, gold options and gold futures contracts are an indirect way to invest in gold—but a very risky one. Experts say that gold derivatives should be the last investment resort for any novice investor.

Unlike the spot gold market, where the prices are listed as they are, the futures market trades contracts on future price speculations. Because of the risks involved and the level of sophistication required, investors should strike this option off their radar if they’re not a seasoned trader.

To wrap it all up, gold derivatives, gold stocks, and gold ETFs that are not physically backed by gold are some of the riskier investments. On the other end of the risk spectrum, there’s physical gold and gold-backed ETFs, which are relatively simpler, safer investments.

IRA Q&A: is it Possible to Contribute to an IRA Without a Job?

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

without a job - square

Here’s a question that popped into my head just the other day: Can you put money in an IRA or a Roth IRA if you don’t have wage income?

And the answer I found is that Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) were introduced in the mid-70s to help employees save for retirement and reduce their taxable income. So it stands to reason that to make a contribution—and get the tax benefit—you’d have to have income from a job. And, in fact, contributions to both traditional and Roth IRAs can only be made from what the IRS determines to be “earned income.” However, wages aren’t the only form of earned income. So let’s start by looking at the definition.

What’s considered earned income

You don’t have to work for someone else to have taxable earned income. You can also work for yourself. Compensation from either type of employment would be considered earned income. But the complete definition is a bit broader. According to the IRS, taxable earned income includes:

  • Wages, salaries and tips
  • Union strike benefits
  • Long-term disability benefits received prior to minimum retirement age
  • Net earnings from self-employment

In terms of an IRA contribution, the amount of your earned income is also important. The maximum contribution you can make for 2011 is $5,000 ($6,000 if you’re over 50). But if your taxable income is less than the maximum contribution, you can only contribute up to the actual dollar amount of your earned income for the year. In other words, you can’t contribute more to your IRA than you earn.

What about unearned income?

Because there are other ways to make money, it’s probably equally important to understand what’s not considered to be earned income. Things such as interest and dividends from investments, pensions, Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, and child support—even though they may factor significantly in your monthly bottom line—aren’t considered earned income for tax and IRA contribution purposes.

The Spousal IRA exception

Fortunately for married couples, there is one way to make a contribution to an IRA if you don’t have wages—a Spousal IRA. This is a tax-advantaged retirement account designed specifically to allow a working spouse to make contributions on behalf of a nonworking spouse. Under current laws, if you’re married filing jointly, you can contribute the maximum into an IRA for each spouse—even if one of you has no earned income—as long as the working spouse has income equal to both contributions.

So let’s say both you and your spouse are over 50 and want to contribute the maximum of $6,000 to each of your IRAs. Whichever one of you is working would have to have earned income of $12,000 or more to cover both contributions.

Another good thing about the Spousal IRA is that, should the non-working spouse go back to work, he or she can contribute to the same IRA. That’s because, once opened, a Spousal IRA is an Individual Retirement Account like any other.

Making retirement top priority no matter what

Even if you don’t qualify for the tax advantages of an IRA or other type of retirement account, if you have income from other sources besides wages, I advise you to save for retirement—and save consistently. Open an investment account or other type of savings account, earmark it for retirement and direct a percentage of your income to that account each month. Ideally, you could set up an automatic transfer from your online checking account into your savings account to make it easier on yourself. Then, should your earnings situation change and you find you’re able to contribute to an IRA or participate in an employer-sponsored plan, you’ll be ahead of the game.