Nov 13

How To Invest in Coins with a Self-Directed IRA LLC

The IRS does not list the type of assets or investments that may be purchased with retirement funds, but does indicate which categories of assets or investments are not permitted.

The categories of transactions that are not permitted to be purchased using a Self-Directed IRA LLC can be found in Internal Revenue Code Sections 408 & 4975.

When it comes to coins or metals, Internal revenue Code Section 408 is generally the provision that applies. In general, collectibles such as artworks, rugs, stamps, certain coins, beverages and antiques, etc. are not allowed within a Self-Directed IRA LLC, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 408.

How To Invest in Coins with a Self-Directed IRA LLCInternal Revenue Code Section 408 is specific as to what defines a collectible. Some notable exceptions are allowed for certain gold (such as American Eagle) and silver coins and any coins issued by a state. Legislation in 1997 further liberalized the rules for IRAs by making reference to specific definitions of acceptable coins in USCS, title 31; IRC sections 5112(a), (e) and (k); the Commodity Exchange Act; and IRC section 408(m)(3).

This change, in general, resulted in a windfall for individual collectors as well as coin and precious metal dealers (all of the coins allowed must be minted by the U.S. government or the states).

The Law

Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m):

(3) Exception for certain coins and bullion

For purposes of this subsection, the term “collectible” shall not include —

(A) any coin which is —

(i) a gold coin described in paragraph (7), (8), (9), or (10) of section 5112 (a) of title 31, United States Code,

(ii) a silver coin described in section 5112 (e) of title 31, United States Code,

(iii) a platinum coin described in section 5112 (k) of title 31, United States Code, or

(iv) a coin issued under the laws of any State, or

(B) any gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bullion of a fineness equal to or exceeding the minimum fineness that a contract market (as described in section 7 of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. 7) requires for metals which may be delivered in satisfaction of a regulated futures contract if such bullion is in the physical possession of a trustee described under subsection (a) of this section.

Subsection (a) states:

(a) Individual retirement account

For purposes of this section, the term “individual retirement account” means a trust created or organized in the United States for the exclusive benefit of an individual or his beneficiaries, but only if the written governing instrument creating the trust meets the following requirements:

(1) Except in the case of a rollover contribution described in subsection (d)(3) in section 402 (c), 403 (a)(4), 403 (b)(8), or 457 (e)(16), no contribution will be accepted unless it is in cash, and contributions will not be accepted for the taxable year on behalf of any individual in excess of the amount in effect for such taxable year under section 219 (b)(1)(A).

(2) The trustee is a bank (as defined in subsection (n)) or such other person who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the manner in which such other person will administer the trust will be consistent with the requirements of this section.

(3) No part of the trust funds will be invested in life insurance contracts.

(4) The interest of an individual in the balance in his account is non-forfeitable.

(5) The assets of the trust will not be commingled with other property except in a common trust fund or common investment fund.

(6) Under regulations prescribed by the Secretary, rules similar to the rules of section 401 (a)(9) and the incidental death benefit requirements of section 401 (a) shall apply to the distribution of the entire interest of an individual for whose benefit the trust is maintained.

Hence, it is clear that in the case of physical metals, such as gold, the metals must be held in the physical possession of a U.S. trust (i.e. bank or depository), however, the “physical possession” requirement does not appear to relate to the possession of coins. A more detailed analysis will follow below.

31 U.S.C. 5112 refers to Denominations, specifications and design of coins.

(a) The Secretary of the Treasury may mint and issue only the following coins:

(1) a dollar coin that is 1.043 inches in diameter.

(2) a half dollar coin that is 1.205 inches in diameter and weighs 11.34 grams.

(3) a quarter dollar coin that is 0.955 inch in diameter and weighs 5.67 grams.

(4) a dime coin that is 0.705 inch in diameter and weighs 2.268 grams.

(5) a 5-cent coin that is 0.835 inch in diameter and weighs 5 grams.

(6) except as provided under subsection (c) of this section, a one-cent coin that is 0.75 inch in diameter and weighs 3.11 grams.

(7) A fifty dollar gold coin that is 32.7 millimeters in diameter, weighs 33.931 grams, and contains one troy ounce of fine gold.

(8) A twenty-five dollar gold coin that is 27.0 millimeters in diameter, weighs 16.966 grams, and contains one-half troy ounce of fine gold.

(9) A ten dollar gold coin that is 22.0 millimeters in diameter, weighs 8.483 grams, and contains one-fourth troy ounce of fine gold.

(10) and contains one-tenth troy ounce of fine gold.

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall mint and issue, in quantities sufficient to meet public demand, coins which —

(1) are 40.6 millimeters in diameter and weigh 31.103 grams;

(2) contain .999 fine silver;

(3) have a design —

(A) symbolic of Liberty on the obverse side; and

(B) of an eagle on the reverse side;

(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.

How do I hold IRS Approved Coins with a Self-Directed IRA LLC?

Now that you have a clear idea of the types of coins that the IRS allows to be purchased using retirement funds, the next questions becomes how can the coins be held without violating IRS rules.

Most people don’t realize that a coin can be treated as bullion. As a result, based on the language in IRC 408(m)(3)(B), all coins defined in IRC 408(m), including American Eagle and State minted coins must be held in the ‘physical possession’ of a U.S. trustee, just like all precious metals (i.e. pure gold and silver bars). Since IRS approved coins, such as American Eagle and State minted coins are considered bullion for purposes of Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m), all IRS approved coins, just like precious metals, should be held in the “physical possession” of a U.S. bank or depository.

Although, bullion may be cast into bars or minted into coins. The defining attribute of bullion is that it is valued by its mass and purity rather than by a face value as money. Hence, it appears that the “physical possession” requirement outlined for bullion in IRC 408(m)(3)(B) does pertain to coins, such as American Eagle coins, as defined in IRC 408(m)(3)(A), since they can be defined as bullion. That being said, it is best for retirement account holders to hold all IRS approved coins outlined in IRC 408(m) at a depository or bank safe deposit box and not in their personal possession. It is best practice to hold all IRS approved coins at a bank or depository, including the American Eagle and State minted coins.

Holding IRS Approved Coins in a Safe Deposit Box

IRC Section 408(m) clearly states that gold, silver, or palladium bullion, which includes IRS approved coins, must be held in the physical possession of a U.S. trustee, otherwise known as a U.S. bank or financial institution.

Here is the exact language from the tax code under IRC 408(m)(3)(B):

“Any gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bullion of a fineness equal to or exceeding the minimum fineness that a contract market (as described in section 7 of the Commodity Exchange Act, U.S.C.) requires for metals which may be delivered in satisfaction of a regulated futures contract, if such bullion is in the physical possession of a trustee described under subsection (a) of this section.”

The tax code clearly states that any IRS approved metals (bullion) must be held in the physical possession of a trustee, which we now know means a U.S. bank. So the question then becomes is whether holding IRS approved coins (bullion) in a safe deposit box at a U.S. bank in the name of the Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) plan that would be considered to be in the ‘physical possession’ of a U.S. trustee or bank and satisfy the definition under IRC 408(m)?

An argument can then be made that holding precious metals (bullion) at a U,S. bank safe deposit box would not be considered to be in the physical possession of the IRA holder since the bullion will physically be held in a safe deposit box of the bank in the name of the IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) plan. However, the safe deposit box is in the constructive control of the Self-Directed IRA LLC manager or Solo 401(k) plan trustee. That being said, the Internal Revenue Code under Section 408 clearly states ‘physical possession’ and not possession or ‘constructive control.’ From a legal standpoint, possession is not defined to represent control, meaning you can be in possession of an item but not in control or ownership of it. Therefore, many tax practitioners take the position that holding bullion in a safe deposit box in the name of the Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) plan would satisfy the ‘physical possession’ requirement under Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m).”

Unfortunately there is no IRS guidance on this. What is clear is that, IRS approved precious metals should not be stored in the home or personal possession of the Self-Directed IRA holder, individual Solo 401(k) plan participant, or any person that does not satisfy the definition of a trustee according to the Internal Revenue Code. It is good practice to hold IRS approved precious metals or coins owned by a retirement account at an IRS approved depository where it is clearly in the ‘physical possession’ of a US Bank (trustee as defined under IRC 408(a).

To learn more about purchasing and holding coins with a Self-Directed IRA LLC, please contact one our tax professionals at 800-472-0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

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.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Jul 17

Is the Rollover Business Startup (ROBS) Legal?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (otherwise known as ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code clearly allow for the use of retirement funds to acquire or invest in a new or existing business as long as the transaction complies with IRS and ERISA rules and regulations.

Business owners have been using retirement funds to help acquire or invest in a business for a number of years. A number of promoters have promoted these types of transactions under the name “ROBS”. Even though this type of transaction is permitted under IRS and ERISA rules, the IRS believed a significant number of the promoters were not taking the necessary steps to structure a transaction that is in full compliance with IRS and ERISA rules.

The October 1, 2008 Memorandum

On October 1, 2008, Michael Julianelle, Director, Employee Plans, signed a “Memorandum” approving IRS ROBS Examination Guidelines. The IRS stated that while this type of structure is legal and not considered an abusive tax avoidance transaction, the execution of these types of transactions, in many cases, have not been found to be in full compliance with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. In the “Memorandum”, the IRS highlighted two compliance areas that they felt were not being adequately followed by the promoters implementing the structure during this time period.

The first non-compliance area of concern the IRS highlighted in the “Memorandum” was the lack of disclosure of the adopted 401(k) Plan to the company’s employees. The IRS believed that in too many instances the promoter was establishing a 401(k) Plan that was not adequately disclosed to all employees. Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(4) provides that under a qualified retirement plan, contributions or benefits provided under the plan must not discriminate in favor of highly compensated employees. In addition, the promoters were encouraging the business owner who had used their retirement funds to purchase company stock to not provide the same benefit to their employees.

The second non-compliance area of concern the IRS highlighted in the “Memorandum” was establishing an independent appraisal to determine the fair market value of the business being purchased.

Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(c)(1 )(A) defines a prohibited transaction as a sale, exchange or lease of any property between a plan and a disqualified person. Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d)(13) provides an exemption from prohibited transaction consideration for any transaction that is exempt from ERISA Section 406, by reason of ERISA Section 408(e), which addresses certain transactions involving employer stock. ERISA Section 408(e), and ERISA Regulation Section 2550,408e promulgated thereunder, provides an exemption from ERISA Section 406 for acquisitions or sales of qualifying employer securities, subject to a requirement that the acquisition or sale must be for “adequate consideration.” Except in the case of a “marketable obligation”, adequate consideration for this purpose means a price not less favorable than the price determined under ERISA Section 3(18). ERISA Section 3(18) provides in relevant part that, in the case of an asset other than a security for which there is no generally recognized market, adequate consideration means the fair market value of the asset as determined in good faith by the trustee or named fiduciary pursuant to the terms of the plan and in accordance with regulations.

An exchange of company stock between the plan and its employer-sponsor would be a prohibited transaction, unless the requirements of ERISA Section 408(e) are met (the acquisition or sale of the qualifying employer securities must be for adequate consideration).

Therefore, valuation of the purchase corporate stock is a relevant issue. Since, in some cases, the company may be newly established, there could be a question of whether the stock is indeed worth the value of the purchase price exchanged. If the transaction has not been for adequate consideration, it would have to be corrected, for example, by the corporation’s redemption of the stock from the plan and replacing it with cash equal to its fair market value, plus an additional interest factor for lost plan earnings. In addition, the IRS asserts that a valuation-related prohibited transaction issue may arise where the start-up enterprise does not actually “start-up.” Many promoters have been advising clients that they do not need to secure appraisal which would seemingly contradict the IRS’s position outlined in the “Memorandum”. In addition, the promoters who have provided clients with a valuation have been providing clients with a single line valuation statement generally approximating available retirement funds, which the IRS considers inadequate.

The August 27, 2010 IRS Public Phone Forum

On August 27, 2010, almost two years after publishing the “Memorandum”, the IRS held a public phone forum open to the public which covered transactions involving using retirement funds to purchase a business. Monika Templeman, Director of Employee Plans Examinations and Colleen Patton, Area Manager of Employee Plans Examinations for the Pacific Coast spent considerable time discussing the IRS’s position on this subject. Monika Templeman began the presentation reaffirming the IRS’s position that a transaction involving the use of retirement funds to purchase a new business is legal and not an abusive tax-avoidance transaction as long as the transaction complies with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. The concern the IRS has had with these types of transactions is that the promoters who have been offering these transactions have not had the expertise to develop structures that are fully compliant with IRS and ERISA rules and regulations. The IRS added that a large percentage of the transactions they reviewed were in non-compliance largely due to the following non-compliance issues: (i) failure by the promoters to develop a structure that requires the new company to disclose the new 401(k) Plan to the company’s employees and, (ii) the failure to require the client to secure an independent appraisal to determine the fair market value of the company stock being purchased by the 401(k) Plan. The IRS concluded by stating that a transaction using retirement funds to acquire a business is legal and not prohibited so long as the transaction is structured correctly to comply with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures.

The IRA Financial Group’s Solution

In light of the 2008 “Memorandum” and the most recent IRS comments outlined on the August 27, 2010 public phone forum, the IRA Financial Group’s in-house tax and ERISA professionals spent the better part of two years studying IRS materials and guidance in order to design an IRS and ERISA compliant structure for using retirement funds to acquire or invest in a business tax-free! Unlike our competitors who have been offering this type of structure for many years, which according to the IRS, a significant portion have been found to be non-compliant, the IRA Financial Group has patiently waited for clear IRS guidance before offering a structure that would be fully compliant with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures.

BACSS was developed to specifically address and solve each of the non-compliant areas addressed by the IRS creating a business acquisition and funding solution that is in full compliance with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. 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.

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!

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Jun 29

Top Self-Directed IRA Provider – IRA Financial Group – Announces New Self-Directed IRA Prohibited Transaction Review Service

New self-directed IRA prohibited transaction review service will be offered to all IRA Financial Group clients

IRA Financial Group, the leading provider of “checkbook control” self-directed IRA and solo 401(k) Plans, announces the introduction of a self-directed IRA prohibited transaction review service. IRA Financial Group’s new self-directed IRA prohibited transaction review service will be available to anyone seeking expert consultation on the complex prohibited transaction rules surrounding Internal Revenue Code Sections 408 and 4975. “Understanding how the IRA prohibited transaction rules apply to a self-directed IRA transaction is crucial in order to stay out of any IRS problems,” stated Adam Bergman, a partner with the IRA Financial Group.

Top Self-Directed IRA Provider - IRA Financial Group - Announces New Self-Directed IRA Prohibited Transaction Review ServiceThe Internal Revenue Code does not describe what a Self Directed IRA or Solo 401(k) plan can invest in, only what it cannot invest in. Internal Revenue Code Sections 408 & 4975 prohibits Disqualified Persons from engaging in certain type of transactions. The purpose of these rules is to encourage the use of retirement accounts for accumulation of retirement savings and to prohibit those in control of retirement accounts from taking advantage of the tax benefits for their personal account. “The partners at the IRA Financial Group have spent thousands of hours reviewing all available IRS materials and case law on all facets of the IRS prohibited transaction rules and have developed a platform for advising clients on the rules,” stated Mr. Bergman.

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.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Jun 26

Swanson Tax Case Explained

IRA Can Own 100% of a Newly Established Entity and be Managed by the IRA Holder and Not Trigger a Prohibited Transaction

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

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).

Underlying dispute.

The underlying facts involved James Swanson (the taxpayer’s) combined use of two entities owned exclusively by his IRAs to defer income recognition.

James Swanson was the sole shareholder of H & S Swansons’ Tool Company, an S corporation that builds and paints component parts for domestic and foreign equipment manufacturers. Following the advice of tax counsel, Swanson arranged in 1985 for the establishment of Swansons’ Worldwide, Inc. (“Worldwide”), a Domestic International Sales Company (“DISC”). A DISC is a domestic corporation, usually a subsidiary, that is typically used to defer tax on income generated by the entity.

Mr. Swanson appointed Florida National Bank as trustee and custodian of IRA #1, who retained the power to direct its investments. Mr. Swanson then directed Florida National to execute a subscription agreement to purchase 2,500 shares of Worldwide original issue stock. The shares were issued and IRA #1 became the sole shareholder of Worldwide.  Mr. Swanson then engineered a similar transaction with a second IRA at another bank.

The IRS Attack

The IRS issued a notice of deficiency to Mr. Swanson in June 1992. The IRS stated that prohibited transactions had occurred causing IRAs #1 and #2 to be terminated. The IRS made the following arguments:

  1. Mr. Swanson is a disqualified person within the meaning of section 4975(e)(2)(A) of the Code as a fiduciary because he has the express authority to control the investments of IRA#1.
  2. Mr. Swanson is also an Officer and Director of Swansons’ Worldwide. Therefore, direct or indirect transactions described by section 4975(c)(1) between Swansons’ Worldwide and IRA #1 constitute prohibited transactions.
  3. Mr. Swanson, as an Officer and Director of Worldwide directed the payment of dividends from Worldwide to IRA #1.
  4. At the time of the purchase of the Swanson Worldwide stock, Mr. Swanson was a fiduciary of his IRA and the sole director of Swansons’ Worldwide.
  5. The sale of stock by Swanson Worldwide to Mr. Swanson IRA constituted a prohibited transaction within the meaning of Section 4975(c)(1)(A) of the Code.

Mr. Swanson’s Position in Response to the IRS

Mr. Swanson took the position in their Tax Court petition that no prohibited transaction had occurred. Their position was that since the Worldwide shares issued to IRA #1 were original issue, no sale or exchange occurred. Also, they stated that as director and president of Worldwide, Swanson engaged in no activities on behalf of Worldwide that benefited him other than as beneficiary of IRA #1. Mr. Swanson made similar points with respect to IRA #2.

The IRS Concedes the Prohibited Transaction Issue.

The IRS 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.

Mr. Swanson sought litigation costs against the IRS on the Prohibited Transaction Issue

The Tax Court Rebuffs IRS Arguments on IRA Prohibited Transaction Issue and Imposes Litigation Costs.

The IRS argued that its litigation position with respect to the IRA prohibited transaction issue was substantially justified. The Tax Court disagreed with the IRS’ position, finding that it was unreasonable for the IRS to claim that a prohibited transaction occurred when Worldwide’s stock was acquired by IRA #1 for the following reasons:

  1. The stock acquired was newly issued. Before that time, Worldwide had no shares or shareholders. A corporation without shares doesn’t fit within the definition of a disqualified person under the prohibited transaction rules. As a result, Mr. Swanson only became a disqualified person with respect to IRA #1 investment into Worldwide only after the Worldwide stock was issued to IRA #1.
  2. It was only after Worldwide issued its stock to IRA #1 that Mr. Swanson held a beneficial interest in Worldwide’s stock. Mr. Swanson was not a “disqualified person” as president and director of Worldwide until after the stock was issued to IRA #1
  3. The payment of dividends by Worldwide to IRA #1 was not a self-dealing  prohibited transaction under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(c)(1)(E). The only benefit Mr. Swanson realized from the payments of dividends by Worldwide related solely to his status as beneficiary of IRA #1 which is not a prohibited transaction.
  4. It was only after Worldwide issued its stock to IRA #1 that Mr. Swanson held a beneficial interest in Worldwide’s stock. Therefore, the issuance of stock to IRA #1 did not, constitute a prohibited transaction.
  5. It was only after Worldwide issued its stock to IRA #1 that Mr. Swanson held a beneficial interest in Worldwide’s stock. Mr. Swanson’s only benefit would be as beneficiary of the IRA which is not a prohibited transaction.

The Tax Court reached similar conclusions with respect to IRA #2.

THE TAX COURT AGREED WITH SWANSON THAT THE IRS ARGUMENT THAT AN IRA CANNOT OWN A NEW ENTITY TO MAKE AN INVESTMENT IS A FRIVOLOUS POSITION THAT SHOULD BE SANCTIONED AND SUBJECT TO LITIGATION FEES

“We must apportion the award of fees sought by petitioners (Swanson) between the DISC (IRA) issue, for which respondent (IRS) was not substantially justified”
-Tax Court in Swanson V. Commissioner 106 T.C. 76 (1996).

What did we learn from the Swanson Tax Court case?

An IRA can own an Interest in a New Entity managed by the IRA holder

The Swanson case helped establish that an IRA holder is permitted to establish a new entity wholly owned by his or her IRA in order to make IRA investments.  The Swanson case makes it clear that only after the IRA has acquired the stock of the newly established entity does the entity become a disqualified person.

An IRA Holder can manage the newly formed entity owned by the IRA

The Swanson case makes it clear that an IRA holder may serve as manager, director, or officer of the newly established entity owned by his or her IRA.   The Tax Court held that Mr. Swanson was not a “disqualified person” as president and director of Worldwide until after the stock was issued to IRA #1. In other words, by having the IRA invested in an entity such as an LLC of which the IRA owner is the manager, the Swanson Case suggests that the IRA holder can serve as manager of the LLC and have “checkbook control” over his or her IRA funds.

The Tax Court in Swanson made it clear that it was only after Worldwide issued its stock to IRA #1 that Mr. Swanson held a beneficial interest in Worldwide’s stock.  Therefore, the Tax Court is arguing that only once the IRA funds have been invested into the newly established entity does the analysis begin whether an IRA transaction is prohibited.  Said another way, the Tax Court is contending that the use of an entity owned wholly by an IRA is not material as to whether a prohibited transaction occurred.  The use of a wholly owned entity to make an investment is essentially no different if the IRA made the investment itself with respect to the prohibited transaction rules.

For more information about this case and others, please contact an IRA Expert @ 800.472.0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Jun 01

The Law Concerning the Rollover Business Startup Solution

You may use your retirement funds to start your own business using the Rollover Business Startup Solution, also known as ROBS.  The Internal Revenue Code and ERISA have firmly codified the ability to use retirement funds to invest in the stock of a sponsoring company as long as certain IRS and ERISA rules are followed.

Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(c) includes a list of transactions that the IRS deems “prohibited”. However, Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d) lists a number of exemptions to the prohibited transaction rules. Specifically Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d)(13) lists an exemption for any transaction which is exempt from section 406 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by reason of section 408(e) of such Act.

The Law Concerning the Rollover Business Startup SolutionSection 408(e) provides that section 406 shall not apply to the acquisition or sale by a plan of qualifying employer securities (as defined in section 407(d)(5), provided that: (1) the acquisition or sale is for adequate consideration; (2) no commission is charged with respect to the acquisition or sale; and (3) the plan is an eligible individual account plan (as defined in section 407(d)(3)). A 401(k) plan fits in to this definition.

Pursuant to ERISA Section 406, the acquisition or sale must be for “adequate consideration.” Except in the case of a “marketable obligation”, adequate consideration for this purpose means a price not less favorable than the price determined under ERISA § 3(18),subject to a requirement that the acquisition or sale must be for “adequate consideration.” An exchange of company stock between the plan and its employer-sponsor would be a prohibited transaction, unless the requirements of ERISA § 408(e) are met.

The exemptions in 4975(d) shall not apply to items described in Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(f)(6). Section 4975(f)(6)(A) states that the exemption of 4975(d) shall not apply in the case of a trust described in Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a), which is part of a plan providing contributions or benefits for employees some or all of whom are owner-employees (other than paragraphs (9) and (12)) shall not apply to a transaction in which the plan directly or indirectly— (i) lends any part of the corpus or income of the plan to, (ii) pays any compensation for personal services rendered to the plan to, or (iii) acquires for the plan any property from or sells any property to, any such owner-employee, a member of the family of any such owner-employee, or any corporation in which any such owner-employee owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote or 50 percent or more of the total value of shares of all classes of stock of the corporation. Therefore, since the Plan will be purchasing “qualified employer securities” directly from the newly formed corporation, the purchase of corporate stock will not be treated as a prohibited transaction pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.

ERISA Section 407(b)(1) generally places limitations on the acquisition and holding of Qualifying Employer Securities (normally 10% of plan assets). However, the Section includes an exception for “eligible individual account plans” (ERISA 407(b)(1)). As set forth in ERISA Section 407(d)(3), a qualified profit sharing plan is included in the definition of “eligible individual account plans”. In addition, pursuant to ERISA Section 404(a)(2), these plans do not violate ERISA’s diversification and, to the extent it requires diversification, prudence requirements.

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!

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Apr 10

IRA Financial Group Announces New Self-Directed IRA Compliance & Regulatory Service

New self-directed IRA compliance & regulatory service will cover IRS prohibited transaction and unrelated business taxable income rules

IRA Financial Group, the leading provider of “checkbook control” self-directed IRA and solo 401(k) Plans, announces the introduction of a new compliance & regulatory service will cover IRS prohibited transaction and unrelated business taxable income rules. IRA Financial Group’s new self-directed IRA compliance service will be available to anyone seeking expert consultation on the complex prohibited transaction rules surrounding Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 and the unrelated business taxable income (UBTI or UBIT) tax. “We have had many requests for a self-directed IRA compliance and regulatory service that will help people get answers to the complex questions they have concerning their self-directed IRA investment,” stated Adam Bergman, a partner with the IRA Financial Group.

IRA Financial Group Announces New Self-Directed IRA Compliance & Regulatory ServiceThe Internal Revenue Code does not describe what a Self Directed Roth IRA can invest in, only what it cannot invest in. Internal Revenue Code Sections 408 & 4975 prohibits Disqualified Persons from engaging in certain type of transactions. The purpose of these rules is to encourage the use of Roth IRAs for accumulation of retirement savings and to prohibit those in control of Roth IRAs from taking advantage of the tax benefits for their personal account.

According to Mr. Bergman, with a lack of adequate expertise in the marketplace on the self-directed IRA prohibited transaction and self-directed IRA UBIT rules, it is vital to offer the general public a service to help them navigate these complex rules which are so important to helping keep their self-directed IRA structure in full IRS compliance.

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 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.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Apr 07

What is the Penalty for Engaging in a Disqualified Transaction with a Self-Directed IRA?

Your investment may be disallowed under Internal Revenue Code Section 408 or result in a “Prohibited Transaction” under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 and could result in the immediate disqualification of your IRA.

Although IRAs are generally not ERISA plans, the Department of Labor has jurisdiction over these plans for purposes of the prohibited transaction rules, including individual requests for exemptions from those rules.   There are two different consequences for incurring a prohibited transaction under the Code:

  • For the IRA owner, the IRA is deemed immediately disqualified as of January 1 of the year in which the prohibited transaction occurred (an extremely severe tax consequence), resulting in current income tax treatment of a traditional IRA and possible excise tax penalty for a premature withdrawal from an IRA. If this deemed “distribution” occurs, it will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if you were under the age of 59 1/2 at that time, a ten (10%) percent excise tax on premature distributions may also be assessed.
  • For the Disqualified Person involved in the transaction, the initial tax on a prohibited transaction is 15 percent of the amount involved for every year (or portion thereof) in the “taxable period,” which is the period beginning when the transaction occurs and ending on the date of the earliest of (1) the mailing of a notice of deficiency for the tax, (2) assessment of the tax, or (3) correction of the transaction. The 15% excise tax is followed by an additional tax of 100% if the disqualified person is recalcitrant.

The prohibited transaction rules are extremely broad. Thus, the IRA owner self directing his investments must be especially cautious in engaging in transactions that could compromise his best judgment or result in indirectly benefiting him.

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

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Feb 20

Benefits of Using Your IRA to Fund a Business with ROBS

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.”

3. 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 2016.

To learn more about the benefits of the ROBS strategy, please contact a retirement tax expert at 800-472-0646.
IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Jan 26

Some Helpful Tips For Investing In Real Estate Using Retirement Funds

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com and was written by our own Adam Bergman –

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Most people mistakenly believe that their retirement accounts must be invested in traditional financial related investments such as stocks, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, etc. Few Investors realize that the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) permits retirement accounts, such as an IRA or 401(k) plan, to invest in real estate and other alternative types of investments.  In fact, IRS rules permit one to invest retirement funds in almost any type of investment, aside generally from any investment involving a disqualified person, collectibles and life insurance.

One of the primary advantages of purchasing real estate with retirement funds is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is made or tax-free in the case of a Roth account (after-tax). For example, if one purchased a piece of property with retirement funds for $100,000 and 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.

The two most common vehicles for purchasing real estate with retirement funds is the self-directed IRA or an employer sponsored 401(k) plan.  However, most employer 401(k) plans do not offer real estate as a plan investment option and, thus, the self-directed IRA has become the most popular way to buy real estate with retirement funds.  Establishing a self-directed IRA is quick and relatively inexpensive and can be done in just a few days.  The most challenging aspect of investing in real estate using retirement funds is navigating the IRS prohibited transaction rules.  In general, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 4975, the retirement account holder cannot make a retirement account investment that will directly or indirectly benefit ones self or any disqualified person (lineal descendant of the retirement account holder and related entities), perform any service in connection with the retirement account investment, guarantee any retirement account loan, extend any credit to or from the retirement account, or enter into any transaction with the retirement account that would present a conflict of interest.  The purpose of these rules is to encourage the use of retirement account for accumulation of retirement savings and to prohibit those in control of the retirement account from taking advantage of the tax benefits for their personal account.

Aside from navigating the IRS prohibited transaction rules, the following are a handful of helpful tips for making real estate investment using retirement funds:

  • The deposit and purchase price for the real estate property should be paid using retirement account funds and not from any disqualified person(s)
  • All expenses, repairs and taxes incurred in connection with the retirement account real estate investment should be paid using retirement funds – no personal funds from any disqualified person should be used
  • If additional funds are required for improvements or other matters involving the retirement account-owned real estate investment, all funds should come from the retirement account or from a non-“disqualified person”
  • Partnering with yourself or another disqualified person in connection with a retirement account investment could trigger the IRS prohibited transaction rules.
  • 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 by the retirement account holder or any disqualified person and whereby the lender’s only recourse is against the property and not against the borrower.
  • If using a nonrecourse loan to purchase real estate with a self-directed IRA, the unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”) rules could be triggered and a tax rate reaching as high as 40 percent could apply.  Note – an exemption from this tax is available for 401(k) plans pursuant to IRC 514(c)(9). If the UBTI tax is triggered and tax is due, IRS Form 990-T must be timely filed.
  • No services should be performed by the retirement account holder or any “disqualified person” in connection with the real estate investment.  Please see: Finally Some Clarity On What You Can And Cannot Do In Your Self-Directed IRA for additional information
  • Title of the real estate purchased should be in the name of the retirement account. For example, if Joe Smith established a Self-Directed IRA LLC and named the LLC “XYZ, LLC”, title to the real estate purchased by Joe’s Self-Directed IRA LLC would be as follows: XYZ LLC.  Whereas, if Joe Smith established a self-directed IRA with ABC IRA Trust Company (custodian), and the custodian purchased the real estate directly on behalf of Joe without the use of an LLC, then title would read:  ABC IRA Trust Company FBO John Doe IRA.
  • Keep good records of income and expenses generated by the retirement account owned real estate investment
  • All income, gains or losses from the retirement account real estate investment should be allocated to the retirement account owner of the investment
  • 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.
  • Beware of fraud if purchasing real estate from a promoter.
  • If using a self-directed IRA LLC to buy real estate, it is good practice to form the LLC in the state where the real estate will be located to avoid any additional filing fees.  Also, be mindful of any annual state LLC filing or franchise fees.

Using retirement funds to buy real estate can offer retirement account holders a number of positive financial and tax benefits, such as a way to invest in what one knows and understands, investment diversification, inflation protection, and the ability to generate tax-deferred or tax-free (in the case of a Roth) income or gains. The list of helpful tips outlined above should provide retirement account investors looking to buy real estate with a guideline of how to keep their retirement account from running afoul of any of the IRS rules.  However, retirement account holders using retirement funds to invest in real estate must be mindful of the broad application of the IRS prohibited transaction and UBTI rules and should consult with a tax professional for further guidance.

For more information about using a Self-Directed IRA to invest in real estate, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page