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Published on: 03/15/2016

Self-Directed IRAs – Avoid the Tax Landmines

Every year, we get questions from clients about Self-Directing their IRAs – Basically owning non-publically tradable assets in their IRAs. There are many promoters out there touting that you can even own your lake house in your IRA. Before you go down that path, I have created the attached piece that discusses the income tax benefits of Self-Directed IRAs and possible landmines to consider before you move forward.

Bottom line, a self-directed IRA isn’t a different type of IRA, but rather it refers to an IRA that you direct the investments of your IRA Assets into non-traditional investments. Although many of the benefits sound attractive, especially for those of you that have most of your money in IRAs, there are a lot of costly tax mistakes that can be made when establishing a self-directed IRA. If you fail to follow the rules (both tax rules and the chosen IRA custodian’s rules), the IRS can disqualify the IRA and deem it a distribution subject to taxes and possible penalties.

The linked article on Self-Directed IRAs walks you through the process. Bottom line:

  1. Do your due diligence as to the investment and the custodian to make sure that the investment is prudent (not a prohibited transaction) and that the IRA Custodian is OK with the investment. At Avidian Wealth, we typically recommend Millennium Trust for these types of transactions.
  2. Understand that even appropriate investments may have some adverse tax consequences such as the UBIT/UBTI tax on unrelated business income.
  3. The self-directed IRA may have additional custodial fees and/or needs to have the assets appraised each year (it can be expensive).
  4. Discuss this with your financial team, including your CFP®, CPA and Attorney to make sure that you are not setting yourself up for a big tax problem.

Bottom line, Self-Directed IRAs are completely legal and may be a good deal for you – if you know and follow the rules.


Please read important disclosures here

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