Sep 29

IRA Financial Group Announces List of Most Popular Investments for Self-Directed IRA Clients For 2017

Cryptocurrency and real estate were the two most popular self-directed IRA investments for 2017

IRA Financial Group, the leading provider of “checkbook control” self-directed IRA LLC and Solo 401(k) plan solutions, announces the top three most popular self-directed IRA investments for clients for 2017, which were cryptocurrency, real estate, and hard-money lending. “In 2017 we saw a huge amount of interest in clients looking to use their self-directed IRA to buy bitcoins and real estate,” stated Adam Bergman, a partner with the IRA Financial Group.

The primary advantage of using a self-directed IRA LLC to make investments, such as real estate, is that an investment can be made by simply writing a check. In addition, all income and gains associated with the IRA investment grow tax-deferred and return to the IRA LLC.

With IRA Financial Group’s self directed IRA LLC solution, traditional IRA or Roth IRA funds can be used to buy real estate throughout the United States and globally in a tax-deferred account by simply writing a check and without the need of custodian consent or high custodian fees.

 IRA Financial Group Announces List of Most Popular Investments for Self-Directed IRA Clients For 2017IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed IRA LLC for real estate investors, also called a real estate IRA with checkbook control or a Self-Directed real estate IRA, 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 a result, the Self-Directed IRA LLC provides the retirement account holder with greater control over his or her retirement assets allowing the individual to make traditional as well as non-traditional investments, such as real estate tax-deferred and with much lower annual fees.

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 self-directed IRA LLC and Solo 401(k) plans. 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. To learn more about establishing a self-directed IRA account with the IRA Financial Trust Company please visit http://www.irafinancialtrust.com or call 800-472-1043.

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Sep 25

Is a Self-Directed IRA LLC Approved by the IRS?

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.

Is a Self-Directed IRA LLC Approved by the IRS?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.

Once 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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Sep 18

The UBTI Rules when Using a Self-Directed IRA to Flip Houses

With a Self-Directed IRA with checkbook control, flipping homes or engaging in a real estate transaction is as simple as writing a check. As manager of your Self-Directed IRA LLC, you will have the authority to make real estate investment decisions on behalf of your IRA on your own without needing the consent of an IRA custodian. One of the true advantages of a checkbook control IRA is that when you want to purchase a home with your self-directed IRA, you can make the purchase, pay for the improvements, and even sell or flip the property on your own without involving the IRA custodian.  And the best part is that all gains generated from the house flipping transaction will flow back to the IRA LLC tax-free!

The UBTI Rules when Using a Self-Directed IRA to Flip HousesWhen engaging in real estate transactions, such as a house flipping transaction, one must keep in mind the Unrelated Business Taxable Income Rules (also known as UBTI or UBIT).

The purpose of the UBTI or UBIT rules is to treat tax-exempt entities, such as charities, IRAs,and 401(k)s as a for-profit business when they engage in active business activities or use leverage.

The UBTI or UBIT rules generally applies to the taxable income of “any unrelated trade or business…regularly carried on” by an organization subject to the tax. The regulations separately treat three aspects of the quoted words—“trade or business,” “regularly carried on,” and “unrelated.”

  • Trade or Business: In defining “unrelated trade or business,” the regulations start with the concept of “trade or business” as used by Internal Revenue Code Section 162, which allows deductions for expenses paid or incurred “in carrying on any trade or business.”
  • Regularly Carried On: The UBIT or UBIT rules generally only applies to income of an unrelated trade or business that is “regularly carried on” by an organization. Whether a trade or business is regularly carried on is determined in light of the underlying objective to reach activities competitive with taxable businesses. The requirement thus is met by activities that “manifest a frequency and continuity, and are pursued in a manner generally similar to comparable commercial activities of nonexempt organizations.” The determination of whether an activity is “regularly carried on” is generally a fact and circumstances test and is based on the particular facts of the transaction or set of transactions during the year.
  • Unrelated: In the case of an IRA or 401(k) Plan, any business activity will be treated as “unrelated” to its exempt purpose.

In the case of an IRA or 401(k) plan, a transaction would not trigger the UBTI or UBIT rules if the transaction is deemed not to be considered a trade or business that is regularly carried on. This typically involves passive types of activities that generate capital gains, interest, rental income, royalties, and dividends. The passive income exemptions to the UBTI or UBIT rules are listed in Internal Revenue Code Section 512. However, if the tax-exempt organization engages in an active trade or business, such as a restaurant, store, or manufacturing business, the IRS will tax the income from the business since the activity is an active trade or business that is regularly carried on.

How does the UBTI Rules Apply to Flipping Homes?

The question is then asked, what level of real estate transaction must one cross before triggering the UBTI or UBIT tax.  Unfortunately, there is no clear test as to how many house flipping transactions or the number of real estate transactions one must engage in a given year in order to trigger the UBTI or UBIT tax.  In general, the IRS has a number of factors it will examine to determine whether one has engaged in a high enough volume or real estate transactions, such as home flipping, to trigger the UBTI or UBIT tax.  Firstly, the IRS will examine the frequency of the transactions – how many flipping transactions are done in a year.  Secondly, the IRS will examine the intent of the person – was the person intending to engage in an active trade or business.  Thirdly, the IRS will also look at the scope of other activities of the tax-exempt entity to determine whether the activity is part of a business activity or an investment.

The determination of whether an activity is an active trade or business and will, thus, trigger the UBTI or UBIT tax, which is taxed at a rate of approximately 40% for 2017, depends on the facts and circumstances.  Clearly one or two flipping transactions would not be considered an active trade or business and would, thus, not trigger the UBTI or UBIT tax. The question then becomes what happens if you do 3,4, or even 10 flipping transactions in a year – would that be considered an active trade or business and, hence, trigger the UBTI tax? Again, one must examine all the facts and circumstances surrounding the multiple house flipping transactions in order to determine whether the transactions in the aggregate would constitute an active trade or business. Therefore, it is important to work with a tax professional who can help one evaluate the transaction to determine whether the flipping transaction will trigger the UBTI or UBIT tax.

To learn more about the advantages of using a Self Directed IRA LLC to purchase real estate and flip homes tax-free, please call an IRA Expert at 800-472-0646 or visit www.irafinancialgroup.com.

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Sep 11

Taking Advantage of a Self-Directed Roth IRA When Planning Your Estate

In addition to the significant tax benefits in using a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC to make investments, the Roth IRA also offers a number of very exciting estate planning opportunities.

In general, a self-directed Roth IRA is an after-tax account that allows the Roth IRA holder to benefit from tax-free investment growth, so long as a Roth IRA distribution is not taken prior to a five year holding period and the Roth IRA holder is not under the age of 59½ ( a “qualified distribution”). In addition, a Roth IRA holder would not be subject to the required minimum distribution rules (“RMD”).

With IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC Estate Planning Solution, your family could receive tax-free use of your Roth IRA funds. Converting a pre-tax IRA to a Roth IRA could be used as a very valuable estate-planning tool for estate owner’s that would be subject to the estate tax (For 2015 – estates over $5,430,000) as the Roth conversion funds would be paid out of funds subject to estate tax.

Estate Tax Basics

In general, an IRA, whether a traditional or a Roth, is included in the owner’s gross estate. You can’t avoid that. But when a traditional IRA is inherited, the beneficiary must include all distributions in gross income just as the original owner would have. The distributions are taxed at the beneficiary’s ordinary income tax rate. The beneficiary is able to stretch out the distributions over his or her life expectancy, but annual distributions are required and will be taxed. Hence, when passing a Traditional IRA to a spouse or child, the beneficiary is required to pay ordinary income tax on the IRA distribution amount, which would reduce the amount of Traditional IRA funds available to spend.

Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA – Estate Planning Benefits

In a conversion of a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, the IRA converted amount is as though it were taken as a distribution. So, hence, you would be subject to ordinary income taxes on the converted amount. Note: there is no restriction on the amount of IRA funds that can be converted at one time.

The first estate tax benefit of a Roth IRA conversion is that the Roth IRA holder’s estate would be reduced by the income taxes paid on the amount of the Roth IRA conversion. There are several estate planning benefits to paying tax on the Roth conversion while you are alive.

  • Turning Taxable Distributions into Tax-Free Distributions: Doing a Roth IRA conversion is in effect paying the taxes on the IRA funds for your heirs. They would have owed the taxes in the future when they were required to take a distribution from the inherited IRA. Instead, the Roth IRA holder would be paying the tax now, out of his/her taxable estate, and avoid estate and gift taxes on that amount. Thereafter, when your beneficiary would take a distribution from the inherited Roth IRA, those Roth IRA distributions would be tax-free.
  • Pay Tax & Reduce Estate Taxes: Paying the taxes now reduces the size of your estate and any estate tax bill. This isn’t a factor for estates below the taxable level, but it could be important for taxable estates.
  • Lifetime of Tax Benefits: A Roth IRA conversion can provide lifetime income tax benefits to the Roth IRA holder and it can also benefit your beneficiaries. When you maintain a traditional IRA, after age 70½ you’re required to take minimum annual distributions, which would be subject to income tax. If it turned out that you didn’t need this money for spending or living purposes, it simply increases the taxes you would be required to pay. In addition, being required to take a Traditional IRA distribution could increase your income enough to push you into a higher tax bracket, reduce itemized deductions, increase taxes on Social Security benefits, and have other effects. The older you become, the higher the required distributions and taxes become. With a Roth IRA, you or your beneficiaries could benefit from tax-free appreciation of the Roth IRA assets as well as generating tax-free income to live off.
  • Tax-Free Growth & Tax-Free Income: Once the Traditional IRA has been converted to a Roth IRA, the Roth IRA holder and his or her beneficiaries would be able to benefit from tax-free growth and income generated by the Roth IRA. In other words, the assets of the Roth IRA will be able to grow tax-free and all “qualified distributions” from the Roth IRA would be tax-free allowing the Roth IRA holder or his or her beneficiaries to live off the Roth IRA funds without ever having to pay tax on the income.
  • Take Advantage of Historical Low Tax Rates: Even though a lot has been made of the increasing Obamacare tax rates, our current income tax rates are still at historical lows. Therefore, it is conceivable that income tax rates will rise in the future especially with the high levels of debt that is being used by the Government to stimulate the economy. Doing a Roth IRA conversion now versus later could potentially be a tax savvy decision if the Roth IRA grows at a respectful rate and if tax rates increase. Having a Roth IRA to use or offer to your beneficiaries in a high tax environment will prove to be extremely tax beneficial.

The Self-Directed Roth Stretch IRA

Unlike the original Roth IRA owner, a non-spousal beneficiary of a Roth IRA is required to take minimum distributions over his or her life expectancy. Note: a spousal beneficiary of a Roth IRA is not required to take a Roth IRA distribution.

In the case of a non-spousal Roth IRA beneficiary, when the beneficiary is relatively young, there is the potential for the distributions to be less than the annual earnings of the Roth IRA, so the Roth IRA grows while the distributions are being taken. Of course, the beneficiary can take more than the minimum, even the entire Roth IRA, at any time tax-free. In other words, using a Self-Directed Roth Stretch IRA will allow an individual to transfer tax-free assets to children or other beneficiaries and allow those individuals to benefit from tax-free income while the Roth IRA contributes to grow tax-free.

To learn more about the estate tax benefits of having a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, please contact a tax professional at 800-472-0646.

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Sep 08

What Are the Tax Filing Requirement for UBTI?

In computing UBTI, a specific deduction of $1,000 is permitted. If a Self-Directed IRA LLC has gross UBTI of $1,000 or more during its fiscal year, it must file a completed IRS Form 990-T to report such income and pay any tax due. The Form 990-T is due at the same time as the Form 990, however, if the Self Directed IRA LLC expects its annual UBIT (after certain adjustments) to be $500 or more, then it must make estimated tax payments throughout the year. The Form 990-T is not subject to public disclosure like the Form 990.

What Are the Tax Filing Requirement for UBTI?

Please contact one of our Self Directed IRA Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Sep 05

Making Investments with Your Self-Directed IRA

A Self-Directed IRA LLC offers one the ability to use his or her retirement funds to make almost any type of investment on their own without requiring the consent of any custodian or person. The IRS and Department of Labor only describe the types of investments that are prohibited, which are very few.

The foundation of the prohibited transaction rules are based on the premise that investments involving IRA and related parties are handled in a way that benefits the retirement account and not the IRA owner. The rules prohibit transactions between the IRA and certain individuals known as “disqualified persons”. The outline for these rules can be found in Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. In general, the definition of a “disqualified person” (Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(e)(2)) extends into a variety of related party scenarios, but generally includes the IRA holder, any ancestors or lineal descendants of the IRA holder, and entities in which the IRA holder holds a controlling equity or management interest.

The following are some examples of types of investments that can be made with your Self-Directed IRA LLC

  • Residential or commercial real estate
  • Domestic of foreign real estate
  • Raw land
  • Foreclosure property
  • Mortgages
  • Mortgage pools
  • Deeds
  • Private loans
  • Tax liens
  • Private businesses
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Private placements
  • Precious metals and certain coins
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Foreign currencies

Real Estate

The IRS permits using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to purchase real estate or raw land. Since you are the manager of the Self-Directed IRA LLC, making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check from your Self-Directed IRA bank account. The advantage of purchasing real estate with your Self-Directed IRA LLC is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the IRA holder turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Self-Directed IRA, all gains are tax-free.

For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Self-Directed IRA LLC for $100,000 and you later sold the property for $300,000, the $200,000 of gain appreciation would generally be tax-deferred. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income tax and in most cases state income tax.

Helpful Tips :

  • The deposit and purchase price for the real estate property should be paid using Self-Directed IRA LLC funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used
  • All expenses, repairs, taxes incurred in connection with the Self-Directed IRA real estate investment should be paid using retirement funds – no personal funds should be used
  • If additional funds are required for improvements or other matters involving the real estate investments, all funds should come from the Self-Directed IRA or from a non “disqualified person”
  • If financing is needed for a real estate transaction, only nonrecourse financing should be used. A nonrecourse loan is a loan that is not personally guaranteed and whereby the lender’s only recourse is against the property and not against the borrower.
  • With a Self-Directed IRA the use of a nonrecourse loan would be subject to tax pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 514, which would not be the case with a Solo 401(k) Plan. This provides a very exciting investment opportunity for a self-employed individual or small business owner who is eligible for a Solo 401(k) Plan.
  • No services should be performed by the IRA holder or “disqualified person” in connection with the real estate investment. In general, other then typical trustee type of services (necessary and required tasks in connection with the maintenance of the plan), no active services should be performed by the plan participant or a “disqualified person” with respect to the real estate transaction.
  • Title of the real estate purchased should be in the name of the Self-Directed IRA LLC. For example, if Joe Smith established a Self-Directed IRA LLC and named the LLC XYZ, LLC, title to real estate purchased by Joe’s Self-Directed IRA LLC would be as follows: XYZ LLC
  • Keep good records of income and expenses generated by the real estate investment
  • All income, gains or losses from the Self-Directed IRA LLC real estate investment should be allocated to the IRA
  • Make sure you perform adequate diligence on the property you will be purchasing especially if it is in a state you do not live in
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any self-dealing real estate transaction which would involve buying or selling real estate that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”

Tax Liens

The IRS permits the purchase of tax liens and tax deeds with a Self-Directed IRA. By using a Self-Directed IRA to purchase tax-liens or tax deeds, your profits are tax-deferred back into your retirement account until a distribution is taken (pre-tax IRA distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Self-Directed IRA, all gains are tax-free.

More importantly, with a Self-Directed IRA, you, as manager of the Self-Directed IRA LLC, will have “checkbook control” over your retirement funds allowing you to make purchases on the spot without custodian consent. In other words, purchasing a tax-lien or tax deed is as easy as writing a check!

Helpful Tips :

  • The deposit and purchase price for the tax lien should be paid using Self-Directed IRA funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used
  • A check from the Self-Directed IRA account should be taking to auction or used for the tax lien purchase – no personal check or cash should be used
  • No credit card should be applied for in the name of the Self-Directed IRA as that would violate the IRS prohibited transaction rules. A pure debit card is allowable
  • All income, gains or losses from tax lien investments should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan

Loans & Notes

The IRS permits using IRA funds to make loans or purchase notes from third parties. By using a Self-Directed IRA to make loans or purchase notes from third-parties, all interest payments received would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax IRA) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Self-Directed IRA, all gains are tax-free.

For example, if you used a Self-Directed IRA to loan money to a friend, all interest received would flow back into your Self-Directed IRA tax-free. Whereas, if you lent your friend money from personal funds (non-retirement funds), the interest received would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.

Helpful Tips :

  • The loan or note amount should be paid using Self-Directed IRA funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used in the loan transaction
  • The loan or note should not involve a “disqualified person” directly or indirectly
  • The loan or note should have a stated interest rate of at least Prime as per the Wall Street Journal (4.25% as of 6/23/17)
  • All interest and principal associated with the loan or note should be allocated to the Self-Directed IRA
  • It is good practice to have the loan terms documented in a promissory note or loan agreement
  • If you will be acting as the lender, consider securing the loan with an interest or lien in an asset owned by the borrower
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any self-dealing loan transaction which would involve a loan or note that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”

Private Businesses

With a Self-Directed IRA you are permitted to purchase an interest in a privately held business. The business to be purchased can be any entity other than an S Corporation (i.e. limited liability company, C Corporation, partnership, etc.). When investing in a private business using 401(k) funds, it is important to keep in mind the “Disqualified Person” and “Prohibited Transaction” rules under IRC 4975 and the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512.

Helpful Tips :

  • The deposit and purchase price for the business should be paid using Self-Directed IRA or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used to purchase the business
  • The purchase of the stock or assets of the business should not directly or indirectly benefit the plan participant personally or any “disqualified person”
  • The purchase of a business operated via an LLC or partnership will potentially trigger the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512 and a corresponding tax of approximately 40% for 2017 would be applied
  • Stock of an S Corporation should not be purchased with retirement funds as the S corporation rules only allow individuals to be S Corporation shareholders
  • The purchase of stock of a C Corporation would not trigger the application of the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512
  • All income, gains or losses from the purchased business should be allocated to the Self-Directed IRA
  • The plan participant or any “disqualified person” should not have any ownership in the business being purchased and should not directly or indirectly personally benefit from the acquisition
  • Make sure to perform adequate diligence on the business you will be purchasing or investing in especially if you will be buying the stock/interests and not the assets
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any business acquisition transaction which would involve buying or selling a business that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”

Precious Metals & Coins

The Self-Directed IRA structure allows for investments into precious metals and certain coins. The advantage of using a Self-Directed IRA to purchase precious metals and/or coins is that their values generally keep up with, or exceed, inflation rates better than other investments. In addition, IRS approved metals or coins, as defined under Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m) should be held an an approved depository or U.S. Bank.

Helpful Tips :

  • Only IRS approved metals or coins (bullion) may be purchases as per Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m)
  • The IRS approved precious metals or coins being purchased by the plan should be paid using Self-Directed IRA funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • With respect to IRS approved precious metals or coins(bullion), the metals or coins should not be held in the personal possession of any individual
  • With respect to the IRS approved precious metals or coins outlined in Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m), the bullion must be held in the “physical possession” of a U.S. depository or at a U.S. bank
  • An affidavit signed by the trustee of the plan confirming that the IRS approved precious metals or coins are being purchased and being held in the sole interest of the retirement account is good practice
  • All income, gains or losses from the purchased precious metals or coins should be allocated to the Self-Directed IRA
  • IRS approved precious metals or coins should not be held at a bank outside the United States
  • Perform adequate diligence on the dealer with which you will be transacting with for the purchase of IRS approved metals or coins

Foreign Currencies

The IRS does not prevent the use of IRA funds to purchase foreign currencies, including Iraqi Dinars. In fact, the Self-Directed IRA Plan structure permits the purchase of foreign currencies. Many believe that foreign currency investments offer liquidity advantages to the stock market as well as significant investment opportunities.

By using a Self-Directed IRA to purchase foreign currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, all foreign currency gains generated would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax IRA distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Self-Directed IRA, all gains are tax-free.

Helpful Tips :

  • Make sure you have a solid background in trading currencies – high volatile and significant risk
  • If you will be investing with a third-party, perform adequate diligence on the individual and make sure the individual has the knowledge to trade foreign currencies and all his/her securities licenses are in good standing.
  • Beware of leverage – it is allowable but it would trigger the application of the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512 and thereby a corresponding tax
  • No personal guarantee of any leverage or loan obligation is permitted
  • All income, gains or losses from the foreign currency transactions should be allocated to the Self-Directed IRA

Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CDs

In addition to non-traditional investments such as real estate, a Self-Directed IRA may purchase stock, bonds, mutual funds, and CDs. The advantage of using a self-directed IRA is that you are not limited to just making these types of investments. With a Self-Directed IRA with “checkbook control” you can open a stock trading account with any financial institution as well as purchase real estate, buy tax liens, or lend money to a third-party. Your investment opportunities are endless! When purchasing stocks or securities with a Self-Directed IRA, all income and gains, including dividends, would flow back to the plan without tax. With a Roth Self-Directed, all gains are tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased stocks with personal funds, all income and gains would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.

Helpful Tips :

  • If you will be investing with a third-party, perform adequate diligence on the individual and make sure the individual has the knowledge to trade stocks or securities and all his/her securities licenses are in good standing.
  • Beware of promoters who are promising high returns and that do not work at reputable financial institutions – high likelihood of fraud
  • Beware of leverage – it is allowable but it would trigger the application of the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512 and thereby a corresponding tax
  • No personal guarantee of any leverage or loan obligation is permitted
  • Open up a brokerage account in the name of the Self-Directed IRA – not a personal account
  • All income, gains or losses from the stock investments should be allocated to the Self-Directed IRA

If you have any questions about whether your specific Self-Directed IRA transaction would potentially be in violation of IRS rules, please contact a tax professional at the IRA Financial Group at 800-472-0646.