Oct 30

2016 IRA Contribution Limits

2016 IRA contribution limits still offer great retirement and tax benefits

Starting on January 1, 2016 the Internal Revenue Services (“IRS”) announced that individuals seeking to making Traditional or Roth IRA contributions will be limited by the same annual contribution numbers as in 2015.

In 2016, Traditional and Roth IRA contribution limit will stay the same at $5,500 in 2016. The age 50 catch up limit is fixed by law at $1,000.

In the case of SIMPLE IRA plans have a lower limit than 401k plans. It will also stay the same at $12,500 in 2016. For those over the age 50 or over, the catch-up contribution limit will also stay the same at $3,000.

According to Adam Bergman, a partner with the IRA Financial Group, “although the 2016 IRA annual contribution limitations have not increased since 2015, there is still great opportunity to make tax-deferred or Roth contributions which can be the difference between retiring with wealth and having to work the rest of your life. “

2016 IRA Contribution LimitsFor those interested in making Roth IRA contributions, the IRS has increased the income limit for contributing the maximum to a Roth IRA by$1,000 in 2016 to $117,000 for singles and $184,000 for married filing jointly. “One is not able to contribute anything directly to a Roth IRA when your income goes above $132,000 for singles and $194,000 for married filing jointly, both up by $1,000 in 2016. However, you can still do a backdoor Roth IRA.” Stated Mr. Bergman.

IRA Financial Group’s Self-directed IRA LLC offers retirement investors the ability to make traditional as well as alternative asset investments, such as real estate, from a local bank account without any transaction fees. “With IRA Financial Group self-directed retirement plans, making an investment is as easy as writing a check.” Stated Mr. Bergman.

The IRA Financial Group was founded by a group of top law firm tax and ERISA lawyers who have worked at some of the largest law firms in the United States, such as White & Case LLP and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

IRA Financial Group is the market’s leading provider of “Checkbook Control” Self Directed IRA and Solo 401k Plans. We have helped thousands of clients take back control over their retirement funds while gaining the ability to invest in almost any type of investment, including real estate tax-free and without custodian consent!

To learn more about the IRA Financial Group please visit our website at http://www.irafinancialgroup.com or call 800-472-0646.

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Oct 29

What happens to the spouse of a Roth IRA Owner who dies?

A surviving spouse succeeding to the interest of the owner of a Roth IRA may designate the account or annuity as a Roth IRA of his or her own. An electing spouse is, from the date of the election, treated as owner of the IRA. For example, an electing spouse is treated as owner, not beneficiary of the account, for purposes of applying the distribution rules, including the penalty tax imposed by Internal Revenue Code Section 72(t).

What happens to the spouse of a Roth IRA Owner who dies?Please contact one of our Roth IRA Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Oct 27

Using Your IRA to Buy a Business – How Does it Work?

The legality of using retirement funds to purchase employer corporate stock is firmly established in the Internal Revenue Code and under ERISA law. The IRA Financial Group’s in-house retirement tax professionals have spent the last two years developing an IRS and ERISA compliant structure for using retirement funds to acquire or invest in a business tax-free! Because the IRS has stressed the importance of compliance when using retirement funds to purchase a business, it is crucial to work with a company that is operated by a team of in-house tax and ERISA professionals who have worked at some of the largest law firms in the United States, including White & Case LLP and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP to ensure the structure satisfies IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. The retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group have developed a process that ensures speed and compliance, by using standardized procedures that work via phone, e-mail, fax, and mail. Your funds will be ready for investment into your new or existing business within 14-21 days.

Step 1 – Establishment of New Corporation

IRA Financial Group’s in-house tax and ERISA professionals will establish a corporation and ensure that the incorporation process is completed accurately in accordance with state law. Our in-house retirement tax professionals have significant experience with the incorporation process in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Your corporation will be incorporated in the State where you will conduct business or in multiple states if the business will be conducted in more than one state. The IRA Financial Group’s retirement tax professionals will assist you in satisfying all internal corporate formalities, such as establishing a board of directors, appointing officers, and completing the corporate resolution and minutes. Upon the incorporation of the entity, our in-house retirement tax professionals will acquire an Employer Tax ID Number with the IRS for your new corporation.

Step 2 – New Corporation Adopts 401(k) Plan

The IRA Financial Group’s in-house ERISA professionals will establish an IRS approved 401(k) Plan for your new corporation. Plan documents will be drafted so that the new corporation will be the sponsor of the new 401(k) Plan. The Plan documents will appoint the new business owner as the trustee of the plan and will be customized based on the financial goals of you and the business. The Plan will be specifically drafted to allow for investment in your new corporation.

Using Your IRA to Buy a Business - How Does it Work?Step 3 – Rollover/Transfer of Funds to your New Corporation

The IRA Financial group’s in-house ERISA professionals will guide you through the process of opening a bank account for your new 401(k) Plan (the account can be opened at any local bank, credit union, or financial institution) as well as helping you complete the necessary transfer/rollover documents to transfer your retirement funds from your previous employer or IRA to your company’s new 401(k) Plan tax-free. Our in-house ERISA professionals will guide you through the entire rollover/transfer process so your retirement funds will be transferred to your new 401(k) Plan in an expedited and tax-free manner.

Step 4 – 401(k) Plan Invests in the new Corporation

The IRA Financial Group’s in-house retirement tax professionals will draft a customized stock purchase agreement detailing the 401(k) Plan’s purchase of new company stock. The IRA Financial Group will coordinate with the selected independent business appraisal to assure that the stock purchase agreement is in compliance with IRS and ERISA rules. Once the 401(k) Plan has purchased stock in the new corporation, the corporation will have the funds to purchase new business assets or help grow the business.

Step 5 – Compliance with IRS and ERISA Rules

Once your retirement funds have been invested in your new business, the retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will continue to work with you to ensure that the structure remains compliant with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. In the case of a corporation with employees, the IRA Financial Group will work with a third-party administrator to ensure that the Plan remains compliant so that the structure continues to meet IRS and ERISA rules and requirements.

Work Directly with our on-site tax and ERISA professionals!

Each client of the IRA Financial Group is assigned an individual retirement tax professional who will customize a structure that satisfies his or her financial and retirement needs while ensuring the structure is developed in full IRS & ERISA compliance!

We have developed a process that ensures speed and compliance, by using standardized procedures that work via phone, e-mail, fax, and mail. Your funds will be ready for investment into your new or existing business within 14-21 days.

Call us today at 800-472-0646 to learn more about how you can use your retirement funds to start a new business or grow an existing business tax-free, in full IRS compliance, and without penalties!

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Oct 26

Self-Directed IRA Investors Helping U.S. Existing Home Sales to Surge in September

“Checkbook control” IRA investments helping to boost U.S real estate by investing over $330 Million in 2015

IRA Financial Group, the leading provider of self-directed IRA LLC solutions, announces the finding of its client report, which showed that IRA Financial Group clients have invested over $330 million dollars in the U.S real estate market in 2015.

“IRA Financial Group is excited to have helped many thousand clients use retirement funds to buy real estate in 2015,“ stated Adam Bergman, a partner with the IRA Financial Group. “There is no question that self-directed IRA investors have helped contribute to the string existing home sales in September 2015,” stated Mr. Bergman.

Self-Directed IRA Investors Helping U.S. Existing Home Sales to Surge in SeptemberIRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed IRA LLC, also called a real estate IRA with checkbook control, is an IRS approved structure that allows one to use their retirement funds to make real estate and other investments tax-free and without custodian consent. The Self-Directed IRA LLC involves the establishment of a limited liability company (“LLC”) that is owned by the IRA (care of the Roth IRA custodian) and managed by the IRA holder or any third-party. As manager of the IRA LLC, the IRA owner will have control over the IRA assets to make traditional as well as non-traditional investments, such as real estate.

Using IRA Financial Group’s Self Directed IRA LLC with “checkbook control” solution, retirement account investors are able to buy real estate and generate tax-deferred or tax-free gains in the case of a self-directed Roth IRA.

The IRA Financial Group was founded by a group of top law firm tax and ERISA lawyers who have worked at some of the largest law firms in the United States, such as White & Case LLP, Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, and Thelen LLP.

IRA Financial Group is the market’s leading provider of “checkbook control” Self Directed IRA solutions. IRA Financial Group has helped thousands of clients take back control over their retirement funds while gaining the ability to invest in almost any type of investment, including real estate without custodian consent.

To learn more about the IRA Financial Group please visit our website at http://www.irafinancialgroup.com or call 800-472-0646.

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Oct 23

Our Self-Directed IRA LLC Structure is IRS Approved

The Self-Directed IRA Structure has been in use for some 35 years, however, the concept of using an entity owned by an IRA to make an investment was first reviewed by the Tax Court in Swanson V. Commissioner 106 T.C. 76 (1996). In Swanson, the Tax Court, in ruling against the IRS, held that the funding of a new entity by an IRA for self-directing assets was a permitted transaction and not prohibited pursuant to Code Section 4975. The Swanson Case was later affirmed by the IRS in Field Service Advice Memorandum (FSA) 200128011. In FSA 200128011, the IRS, in providing guidance to IRS agents for purposes of conducting audits, confirmed the Tax Court’s holding in Swanson and held that a newly established entity owned by an IRA and managed by the IRA owner may make investments using IRA funds without violating the prohibited transaction rules under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. In October 2013, the Tax Court in T.L. Ellis, TC Memo. 2013-245, Dec. 59,674(M) held that establishing a special purpose limited liability company (“LLC”) to make an investment did not trigger a prohibited transaction, as a newly established LLC cannot be deemed a disqualified person pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. The impact of the impact of this ruling is enormous because it directly supports the position that a retirement account can fund a newly established LLC without triggering a prohibited transaction. The Ellis case is decisive because it will silence anyone who claims that using a special purpose LLC to make IRA investments would trigger a prohibited transaction.

When it comes to making IRA investments the IRS does not state which transactions are allowed, but only states what types of transactions are prohibited. The IRA prohibited transaction rules are outlined in Internal Revenue Code Sections 408 & 4975 and generally involve the prohibition against using IRA funds to buy life insurance, collectibles, or enter into any transaction with a “disqualified person”. As per the Internal Revenue Code, a “disqualified person” is generally defined as the IRA holder and any of his or her lineal descendants or any entity controlled by such person(s).

The following is a summary of the key cases & opinion confirming the legality of the Self-Directed IRA LLC:

Swanson V. Commissioner 106 T.C. 76 (1996)

The relevant facts of Swanson are as follows:

1. Mr. Swanson was the sole shareholder of H & S Swansons’ Tool Company (Swansons’ Tool).

2. Mr. Swanson arranged for the organization of Swansons’ Worldwide, Inc. (Worldwide). Mr. Swanson was named as president and director of Worldwide. Mr. Swanson also arranged for the creation of an individual retirement account (IRA #1).

3. Mr. Swanson directed the custodian of his IRA to execute a subscription agreement for 2,500 shares of Worldwide original issued stock. The shares were subsequently issued to IRA #1, which became the sole shareholder of Worldwide.

4. Swansons’ Tool paid commissions to Worldwide with respect to the sale by Swansons’ Tool of export property. Mr. Swanson, who had been named president of Worldwide, directed, with the IRA custodian’s consent, that Worldwide pay dividends to IRA #1.

5. A similar arrangement was set up with regards to IRA #2 and a second corporation called Swansons’ Trading Company.

6. Mr. Swanson received no compensation for his services as president and director of Swansons’ Worldwide, Inc. and Swansons’ Trading Company.

The IRS attacked Mr. Swanson’s IRA transactions on two levels. First, the IRS argued that the payment of dividends from Worldwide to IRA #1 was a prohibited transaction within the meaning of Code Section 4975(c)(1)(E) as an act of self-dealing, where a disqualified person who is a fiduciary deals with the assets of the plan in his own interest. Mr. Swanson argued that he engaged in no activities on behalf of Worldwide which benefited him other than as a beneficiary of IRA #1.

The Tax Court ruled for Mr. Swanson, and found that the IRS was not substantially justified in its position. The court said that section 4975(c)(1)(E) addresses itself only to acts of disqualified persons who, as fiduciaries, deal directly or indirectly with the income or assets of a plan for their own benefit or account. In Mr. Swanson’s case the court found that there was no such direct or indirect dealing with the income or assets of the IRA. The IRS never suggested that Mr. Swanson, acting as a “fiduciary” or otherwise, ever dealt with the corpus of IRA #1 for his own benefit. The Tax Court, in holding for Swanson, stated the following:

“We find that it was unreasonable for [the IRS] to maintain that a prohibited transaction occurred when Worldwide’s stock was acquired by IRA #1. The stock acquired in that transaction was newly issued — prior to that point in time, Worldwide had no shares or shareholders. A corporation without shares or shareholders does not fit within the definition of a disqualified person under section 4975(e)(2)(G). It was only after Worldwide issued its stock to IRA #1 that petitioner held a beneficial interest in Worldwide’s stock, thereby causing Worldwide to become a disqualified person under section 4975(e)(2)(G). . .  Therefore, [the IRS’] litigation position with respect to this issue was unreasonable as a matter of both law and fact.”

Therefore, the Tax Court held that the only direct or indirect benefit that Mr. Swanson realized from the payments of dividends by Worldwide related solely to his status as a participant of IRA #1. In this regard, Mr. Swanson benefited only insofar as IRA #1 accumulated assets for future distribution.

The second issue the IRS raised was that the sale of stock by Worldwide to Mr. Swanson’s IRA was a prohibited transaction within the meaning of section 4975(c)(1)(A) of the Code, which prohibits the direct or indirect sale or exchange, or leasing, of any property between an IRA and a disqualified person. Mr. Swanson argued that at all relevant times IRA #1 was the sole shareholder of Worldwide, and that since the 2,500 shares of Worldwide issued to IRA #1 were original issue, no sale or exchange of the stock occurred.

Our Self-Directed IRA LLC Structure is IRS ApprovedOnce again, the tax court agreed with Mr. Swanson. The critical factor was that the stock acquired in that transaction was newly issued – prior to that point in time, Worldwide had no shares or shareholders. The court found that a corporation without shares or shareholders does not fit within the definition of a disqualified person under section 4975(e)(2)(G). It was only after Worldwide issued its stock to IRA #1 that Swanson held a beneficial interest in Worldwide’s stock, thereby causing Worldwide to become a disqualified person. Accordingly, the issuance of stock to IRA #1 did not, within the plain meaning of section 4975(c)(1)(A), qualify as a “sale or exchange, or leasing, of any property between a plan and a disqualified person”.

The significance of the Swanson ruling was that the Tax Court approved the investment of IRA funds into a newly established entity that is managed by the IRA account holder. In ruling in favor or Mr. Swanson, the Tax Court formally approved the idea of an IRA holder being the sole director and officer of an entity owned by his IRA. In other words, the tax court endorsed a transaction whereby IRA funds are invested in a newly established entity such as a limited liability company of which the IRA owner is the manager. The Swanson Case clearly suggests that as long as the entity is newly established, the investment of IRA funds into that entity would not be treated as a prohibited transaction pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.

IRS Field Service Advice Memorandum 200128011

IRS Field Service Advice (FSA) Memorandum 200128011 was the first IRS drafted opinion that confirmed the ruling of Swanson that held that the funding of a new entity by an IRA for self-directing assets was not a prohibited transaction pursuant to Code Section 4975.

An FSA is issued by the IRS to IRS field agents to guide them in the conduct of tax audits.

USCorp is a domestic sub-chapter S Corporation. Father owns a majority of the shares of USCorp. Father’s three minor children own the remaining shares of USCorp equally. USCorp is in the business of selling Product A and some of its sales are made for export.

Father and each child own separate IRAs. Each of the four IRAs acquired a 25% interest in FSC A, a foreign sales corporation (“FSC”). USCorp entered into service and commission agreements with FSC A. FSC A agreed to act as commission agent in connection with export sales made by USCorp, in exchange for commissions based upon the administrative pricing rules applicable to FSCs. USCorp also agreed to perform certain services on behalf of FSC A, such as soliciting and negotiating contracts, for which FSC A would reimburse USCorp its actual costs.

During Taxable Year 1, FSC A made a cash distribution to its IRA shareholders, out of earnings and profits derived from foreign trade income relating to USCorp exports. The IRAs owning FSC A each received an equal amount of funds.

IRS advised that, based on Swanson, neither issuance of stock in FSC to IRAs nor payment of dividends by FSC to IRAs constituted direct prohibited transaction. o IRS warned that, based on facts, transaction could be indirect.

In light of Swanson, the IRS concluded that a prohibited transaction did not occur under Code Section 4975(c)(1)(A) in the original issuance of the stock of FSC A to the IRAs. Similarly, the IRS held that payment of dividends by FSC A to the IRAs in this case is not a prohibited transaction under Code Section 4975(c)(1)(D). The IRS further concluded that in light of Swanson, the ownership of FSC A stock by the IRAs, together with the payment of dividends by FSC A to the IRAs, should not constitute a prohibited transaction under Code Section 4975(c)(1)(E).

The significance of FSA 200128011 is that the IRS confirmed the Tax Court’s ruling in Swanson, which ruled against the IRS. Like Swanson, the FSA advised IRS agents conducting audits that the creation and ownership of a new entity by an IRA for investment purposes would not be considered a prohibited transaction under Code Section 4975. Furthermore, the IRS established that the payments of dividends by an IRA owned entity to an IRA would not constitute a prohibited transaction. Like the Tax Court in Swanson, the IRS concluded that an investment into a newly established entity to make IRA investments would not be a prohibited transaction pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. The IRS, in confirming the Tax Court’s ruling in Swanson, seemed to suggest that the focus on whether a transaction is prohibited pursuant to IRS rules should be examined based on how IRA funds are invested not on the structure used to effect the investment. In other words, the type of investment made with IRA funds once contributed to the newly formed entity will determine whether the transaction is prohibited under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975, not the vehicle that was used to make the investment.

T.L. Ellis, TC Memo. 2013-245, Dec. 59,674(M)

On October 29, 2013, the Tax Court in T.L. Ellis, TC Memo. 2013-245, Dec. 59,674(M), held that establishing a special purpose limited liability company (“LLC”) to make an investment did not trigger a prohibited transaction, as a newly established LLC cannot be deemed a disqualified person pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.

In TC Memo. 2013-245, Mr. Ellis retired with about $300,000 in his section 401(k) retirement plan, which he subsequently rolled over into a newly created self-directed IRA.

The taxpayer then created an LLC taxed as a corporation and had his IRA transfer the $300,000 into the LLC. The LLC was formed to engage in the business of used car sales. The taxpayer managed the used car business through the IRA LLC and received a modest salary.

The IRS argued that the formation of the LLC was a prohibited transaction under section 4975, which prohibits self-dealing. The Tax Court disagreed, holding that even though the taxpayer acted as a fiduciary to the IRA (and was therefore a disqualified person under section 4975), the LLC itself was not a disqualified person at the time of the transfer. After the transfer, the LLC was a disqualified person because it was owned by the Mr. Ellis’s IRA, a disqualified person. Additionally, the IRS also claimed that the taxpayer had engaged in a prohibited transaction by receiving a salary from the LLC. The court agreed with the IRS. Although the LLC (and not the IRA) was officially paying the taxpayer’s salary, the Tax Court concluded that since the IRA was the sole owner of the LLC, and that the LLC was the IRA’s only investment, the taxpayer (a disqualified person) was essentially being paid by his IRA.

The impact of the Tax Court’s ruling in TC Memo. 2013-245 is significant because it directly confirms the legality of the self-directed IRA LLC solution by validating that a retirement account can fund a newly established LLC without triggering a prohibited transaction. The Tax Court’s decision in TC Memo. 2013-245 is important because it will silence the small percentage of people still trying to deny the legality of the self-directed IRA LLC solution even after the Swanson Case and the 2001 IRS opinion letter confirmed its validity.

In many respects the Tax Court’s ruling in TC Memo. 2013-245 is more important than the Swanson ruling and IRS advisory opinion. Firstly, TC Memo. 2013-245 is the first case that directly reinforces the legality of using a newly established LLC to make IRA investments without triggering an IRS prohibited transaction. The Swanson case as well as IRS Advisory opinion involved a corporation, not a LLC. Secondly, TC Memo. 2013-245 demonstrates the importance of working with specialized tax professionals who have the necessary expertise regarding the IRS prohibited transaction rules before establishing a self-directed IRA “checkbook control” structure. If Mr. Ellis has worked with the IRA Financial Group to establish his “checkbook control” IRA LLC, he would have been told that he could have used an LLC to make an investment in the LLC business, although, the investment would have to be 100% passive and he would not have been able to be involved in the business in any way, including earning a salary.

Conclusion

In light of Swanson, FSA 200128011, and TC Memo. 2013-245 the establishment and funding of a new LLC by an IRA for purposes of making IRS approved investments will not be considered a prohibited transaction under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.

For additional information on the Self-Directed IRA LLC structure, please contact one of our IRA Experts at 800-472-0646.

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Oct 22

New Podcast – The New Book by Adam Bergman, The Checkbook IRA – Why You Want It, Why You Need It

IRA Financial Group’s Adam Bergman discusses his new book, The Checkbook IRA – Why You Want It, Why You Need It, available now on Amazon.

IRAFG Logo SmallClick Here to Listen

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Oct 20

Can You Convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA?

Beginning in 2010, the modified Adjusted Gross Income (“AGI”) and filing status requirements for converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA are eliminated.

Below are some important points to consider when deciding whether to convert your Traditional IRA to a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC.

Can You Convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA?

  • Do you have the ability to pay income taxes on the money you convert from your Traditional IRA?
  • Based on your income tax bracket, does it make sense to pay the entire tax due in 2015. If you expect your rate to go up, converting may be for you. If you think it will go down, then the opposite holds true.
  • Do you anticipate withdrawing Roth IRA funds for personal use within five years of conversion? If so, you may face taxes and penalties if you withdraw within five years of a conversion.

Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC has a number of tax advantages and can offer you multiple tax and investments benefits.

To learn more about converting your Traditional IRA to a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, please contact one of our IRA experts at 800-472-0646.

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Oct 19

Benefits of Using IRA Funds to Buy a Business

When it comes to using retirement funds to buy or finance a business that you or another “disqualified person” will be involved in personally, there is only one legal way to do it and that is through the Business Acquisition Solution, also known as a Rollover Business Start-Up (ROBS). The ROBS solution takes advantage of an exception in the tax code under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 4975(d) that allows one to use 401(k) plan funds to buy stock in a “C” Corporation, which is known as “qualifying employer securities”. The exception to the IRS prohibited transaction rules found in IRC 4975(d) requires that a 401(k) plan buy “qualifying employer securities”, which is defined as stock of a “C” Corporation. This is the reason why one cannot use a self-directed IRA LLC to invest in a business the IRA holder or a disqualified person will be personally involved in or why a 401(k) plan cannot invest in an LLC in which the plan participant or disqualified person will be involved in without triggering the prohibited transaction rules.

So How Does the ROBS Solution Work?

The structure typically involves the following sequential steps:

1. An entrepreneur or existing business owner establishes a new C Corporation;

2. The C Corporation adopts a prototype 401(k) plan that specifically permits plan participants to direct the investment of their plan accounts into a selection of investment options, including employer stock, also known as “qualifying employer securities.”

Benefits of Using IRA Funds to Buy a Business3. The entrepreneur elects to participate in the new 401(k) plan and, as permitted by the plan, directs a rollover or trustee-to-trustee transfer of retirement funds from another qualified retirement plan into the newly adopted 401(k) plan;

4. The entrepreneur then directs the investment of his or her 401(k) plan account to purchase the C Corporation’s newly issued stock at fair market value ( i.e., the amount that the entrepreneur wishes to invest in the new business); and finally

5.The C Corporation utilizes the proceeds from the sale of stock to purchase an existing business or to begin a new venture.

What Are Some of the Advantages of the ROBS Solution?

  • Save Money: The primary advantage of establishing a ROBS solution is to be able to use your retirement funds to invest in a business you will be personally involved in without having to pay tax the retirement funds you wish to use as a distribution to tax and potentially penalty. By being able to invest the retirement funds into the business without having to take a taxable distribution and a 10% early distribution penalty if under the age of 591/2, using a ROBS solution could save someone close to 45% of the distribution amount. For example, if someone under the age of 591/2 was looking to use $100,000 of retirement funds to fund a business and ended up taking a taxable distribution of that amount, that individual would likely have to pay approximately 45% of the 100,000 or $45,000 in tax to the IRS when declaring the distribution on their tax return. The tax rate could be lower if the individual was in a lower income tax bracket or the retirement funds needed were insignificant, but using a ROBS solution would save having to pay tax and potentially a 10% penalty on that amount.
  • Invest in Yourself: The ROBS solution allows one to invest their retirement funds in a business that will be actively run by the retirement account holder. As a result, one is essentially investing their retirement funds in themselves rather than on Wall Street. Of course, not all businesses are successful. According to Bloomberg, close to 80% of new businesses fail in the first 18 months. Hence, investing your hard earned retirement funds in a new business is certainly a risk. However, it is a risk that you are legally entitled to take as per the Internal Revenue Code. Using retirement funds to invest in your business is not for everyone, but for those entrepreneurs that would rather invest in themselves than Wall Street, the ROBS solution is an option.
  • Diversification: There is a growing sentiment among financial advisors, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, that in order to protect your retirement funds from a market downturn, your retirement funds should be well diversified. One can generally not eliminate investment risk completely, but one can manage your level of risk. Every investment has some amount of risk, however, having your retirement funds invested in different types of investments, such as stocks, real estate, and even private businesses, can be a way of diversifying your retirement portfolio and better protecting your retirement funds. Also, it is believed that diversification can enable a retirement portfolio to grow both when markets boom and returns crumble in one sector One should certainly work with a financial planner and tax professional when looking at investment options, especially when it comes to using retirement funds to buy a business.
  • Earn a Salary: In order for one to be a participant of a 401(k) Plan, one needs to be an employee of the business, which adopted the plan. This is the reason why if you own Apple or IBM stock but don’t work at those companies, you cannot participate in their company 401(k) plans. Hence, in order to be eligible to participate in the corporation 401(k) plan you must become a W-2 employee of the C Corporation. For many entrepreneurs the ability to earn a salary and be actively involved in the business is the reason they are using a ROBS solution versus using a self-directed IRA.
  • Benefit from having a 401(k) Retirement Plan: One of the best ways for you to save toward your own retirement and ensure your future security is through an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. Below are some of the advantages of offering and participating ion a 401(k) Plan.
  • Matching Contributions Many employers will match a portion of your savings: It’s like passing up free money if you don’t participate. A safe harbor 401(k) Plan, which is a popular type of 401(k) plan for small businesses, offer employees who participate in the plan a 3% matching contribution made by the employer. Thus, for example, if the employee earns $40,000 in salary during the year and contributes 3% of the salary of $1200 to the 401(k) plan, the employer would contribute an additional $1200 (3% of the salary) to the individual 401(k) plan account.
  • Retaining employees: with most businesses offering their employees retirement benefits, it is worthwhile for small businesses to compete for talented workers by implementing 401(k) benefits. Offering 401(k) plan benefits is a great way to retain key employees. In general, when potential hires are considering multiple job offers, they’ll compare those offers based on corporate culture, growth opportunities, and benefits packages.
  • Easy Administration: 401(k) Plan administration is now easier and more cost-effective than ever with Internet options available to small employers. In addition, IRA Financial Group offers recordkeeping and third-party administration services for your plan allowing you to spend more time focusing on your business and less on your plan.
  • You Can Participate As Well: You are eligible to participate in the company 401(k) plan if you are an owner or an employee of the company that sponsor’s the 401(k) plan. Current regulations allow plan participants to contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 if over the age of 50) of their income on a pre-tax basis each year. That means that in addition to your tax savings for offering the plan and providing matching contributions, you’ll receive yet another tax savings for participating in the plan. This savings can be substantial – an owner in the 35% tax bracket who made the maximum contribution would have saved approximately $6,500 in taxes in 2014.

To learn more about the benefits of the ROBS strategy, please contact a retirement tax expert at 800-472-0646.

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Oct 15

Is Checkbook Control Legal?

The ability to invest retirement funds in a newly established special purpose entity owned 100% by an IRA and managed by the IRA holder has been deemed legal by the Tax Court and IRS for over 18 years. However, only until recently, did the Tax Court confirm that the use of a newly established limited liability company (“LLC”) wholly owned by an IRA and managed by the IRA holder would not trigger a prohibited transaction. On October 2013, the Tax Court in T.L. Ellis, TC Memo. 2013-245, Dec. 59,674(M) (“TC Memo 2013-245”) held that establishing a special purpose limited liability company (“LLC”) to make an investment did not trigger a prohibited transaction, as a newly established LLC cannot be deemed a disqualified person pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.

Tax Court Confirms Validity of Self-Directed IRA LLC Solution

The legality of the Checkbook IRA structure has not come under question since the IRS conceded that investing IRA funds in a wholly owned entity is not a prohibited transaction in the U.S. Tax Court case Swanson V. Commissioner 106 T.C. 76 (1996). The IRS later confirmed the ruling in Swanson by releasing IRS Field Service Advice Memorandum 200128011 (“FSA 200128011”).

A self-directed IRA is a type of IRA structure that allows the IRA holder (you) to have more control over your retirement funds. Unknown to some, not all self-directed IRAs are the same. It is well known that the IRS allows you to use your IRA to make traditional investments, such as stocks and mutual funds. It is not as well known that the IRS also allows you to use IRA funds to invest in real estate, precious metals, tax liens, private business and much more tax-free and penalty free! In fact, the IRS only prescribes a few restrictions on the type of investments that can be made using IRA funds.

A number of IRA custodians would like you to believe that the only way to use IRA funds to make non-traditional investments with your IRA is through a custodian controlled IRA account. However, beginning in the early 1990s, individuals began using special purpose entities wholly owned by their IRA to make investments. Investors wanted the ability to have more control over their IRA investments.

Is Checkbook Control Legal?The idea of using an entity owned by an IRA to make investments was first reviewed by the Tax Court in Swanson V. Commissioner 106 T.C. 76 (1996). In the Swanson case, Mr. Swanson established a special entity wholly owned by the IRA and managed by Mr. Swanson to make an investment. The IRS attacked the transaction and argues the establishment of the special purpose entity owned by the IRA triggered an IRS prohibited transaction. The IRS quickly conceded the prohibited transaction issue in the Swanson case on July 12, ’93 when it filed a notice of no objection to an earlier motion by the Swansons for partial summary judgment on that issue. Nevertheless the Tax Court rules against the IRS and help for Mr. Swanson. The Tax Court disagreed with the IRS’ position, finding that it was unreasonable for the IRS to claim that a prohibited transaction occurred when a newly established entity wholly owned by an IRA and managed by the IRA holder was used as an investment vehicle.

In general, after 1993 when the IRS conceded the IRA prohibited transaction issue in Swanson, a number of attorneys began exploring the impact of the Swanson decision. At the same time, the Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) entity began emerging as the entity of choice for investment transactions and was becoming recognized by all fifty states as an entity that provided limited liability protection and passthrough tax treatment.

During this time, a number of attorneys began experimenting with the use of LLC’s as an investment vehicle. Attorneys began establishing special purpose LLCs wholly owned by an IRA as a vehicle for making real estate and other investments. Since an LLC is a passthrough entity it does not pay federal income tax – its owner does. But since the IRA is the sole owner of the LLC and an IRA is tax-exempt pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 408, no tax is generally due on the IRA LLC investment. This coupled with the ability to make investments quickly and with limited custodian intervention was gaining popularity quickly with the American public.

The increasing popularity of the Checkbook Control IRA caught the IRS’ attention. In light of their defeat in Swanson and their new position that a checkbook IRA is not prohibited, the IRS felt it was important that it provide clear rules and audit guidance to the IRS audit agents on the Checkbook IRA structure.

IRS Confirms Validity of Self-Directed IRA LLC

IRS Field Service Advice (FSA) Memorandum 200128011 was the first IRS drafted opinion that confirmed the ruling of Swanson that held that the funding of a new entity by an IRA for self-directing assets was not a prohibited transaction pursuant to Code Section 4975. An FSA is issued by the IRS to IRS field agents to guide them in conduct of tax audits. The facts presented in the FSA clearly mirrored those in the Swanson case.

Tax Court Re-Affirms Validity of Self-Directed IRA LLC Solution

On October 29, 2013, the Tax Court offered direct confirmation that the use of a newly established special purpose LLC wholly owned by an IRA and managed by the IRA holder would not trigger an IRS prohibited transaction.

In TC Memo. 2013-245, Mr. Terry Ellis retired with about $300,000 in his section 401(k) retirement plan, which he subsequently rolled over into a newly created self-directed IRA.

The taxpayer then created an LLC called CST Investments, LLC (“CST LLC”), taxed as a corporation and had his IRA transfer the $300,000 into CST LLC. CST LLC was formed to engage in the business of used car sales. The taxpayer managed the used car business through CST LLC and received a modest salary.

The IRS argued that the formation of CST was a prohibited transaction under section 4975, which prohibits self-dealing. The Tax Court disagreed and citing the Swanson case ruled that even though the taxpayer acted as a fiduciary to the IRA (and was therefore a disqualified person under section 4975), the LLC itself was not a disqualified person at the time of the transfer. After the transfer, the LLC was a disqualified person because it was owned by Mr. Ellis’s IRA, a disqualified person.

“Petitioners did not engage in a prohibited transaction when they caused Mr. Ellis’s IRA to invest in CST”]

Tax Court in TC memo, 2013-245

Additionally, the IRS also claimed that the taxpayer had engaged in a prohibited transaction by receiving a salary from the LLC. The court agreed with the IRS on this point. Although the LLC (and not the IRA) was officially paying the taxpayer’s salary, the Tax Court concluded that since the IRA was the sole owner of the LLC, and that the LLC was the IRA’s only investment, the taxpayer (a disqualified person) was essentially being paid by his IRA.

The impact of the Tax Court’s ruling in TC Memo. 2013-245 is significant because it directly confirms the legality of the self-directed IRA LLC solution by validating that a retirement account can fund a newly established LLC without triggering a prohibited transaction.

As confirmed in Swanson and later by the IRS in Field Service Advice Memorandum

200128011 and TC Memo 2013-245, using retirement funds to invest in a newly established LLC wholly owned by an IRA and managed by the IRA holder is not a prohibited transaction.

In light of Swanson and TC memo 2013-245, it is evident that the Tax Court believes firmly that using IRA funds to invest in a newly established LLC will not trigger a prohibited transaction and is 100% legal.

To learn more about the law behind the “checkbook control” Self-Directed IRA LLC solution, please contact a tax professional at 800-472-0646.

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Oct 13

Self-Directed IRA Maximum Contribution Limits

The maximum contribution limit for a self-directed IRA for 2015 is $5,500 or $6,500 if you’re age 50 or older, or your taxable compensation for the year, if less. Contributions to a self-directed Roth IRA may be limited based on your filing status and income.

Contributions made to a self-directed IRA LLC must be made to the IRA administrator/custodian and may not be contributed directly to the LLC. Once the IRA contribution is made to the IRA administrator/custodian, the funds can then be transferred to the IRA LLC.

Is my IRA contribution deductible on my tax return?

If neither you nor your spouse is covered by an employer retirement plan, such as a 401(k), your deduction is allowed in full.

For contributions to a traditional IRA, the amount you can deduct may be limited if you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and your income exceeds certain levels. In the case of a Roth IRA, contributions aren’t deductible.

Can I contribute to a traditional or Roth Self-Directed IRA if I’m covered by a retirement plan at work?

Yes, you can contribute to a traditional and/or Roth self-directed IRA even if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan (including a SEP or SIMPLE IRA plan). If you or your spouse is covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan and your income exceeds certain levels, you may not be able to deduct your entire contribution.

Can I establish a self-directed IRA if only one spouse has earned income for the year?

Yes. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse can each make IRA contributions even if only one of you has taxable compensation. The amount of your combined contributions can’t be more than the taxable compensation reported on your joint return and cannot exceed the maximum IRA contributions for the year (for 2015 $5500 or $6500 if over the age of 50). It doesn’t matter which spouse earned the compensation.

How can I make a Roth IRA contribution if I earned too much money in 2015?

For 2015, if your modified adjusted gross income is below $181,000 and you file a joint return, you can make a Roth IRA contribution. For those who earned greater than $181,000 during the year, the IRS provides a formula, which will set forth the reduced maximum amount of Roth IRA contributions permitted for the year, if any.

One way to circumvent the Roth IRA income threshold rules, if to simply make an after-tax traditional IRA contribution and then convert the Traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. Since the Traditional IRA contribution was made after-tax there would be no tax on the Roth IRA conversion. This tactic was made possible when the IRS removed the income level restrictions for making Roth conversions in 2010.

Can I Make IRA contributions after age 70½

You can’t make regular contributions to a traditional IRA in the year you reach 70½ and older. However, you can still contribute to a Roth IRA and make rollover contributions to a Roth or traditional IRA regardless of your age.

To learn more about the self-directed IRA and self-directed Roth IRA contribution rules, please contact a self-directed IRA tax expert at 800-472-0646.

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