IRAs were created in 1974. They were established to give individuals the ability to save money in retirement accounts or trusts in order to benefit themselves or a chosen beneficiary. There are strict guidelines for operating an IRA, as well as who can serve as a custodian of an IRA which are governed by Sec. 408. Self-directed IRA’s are accounts that the custodian agrees to give the taxpayer greater control over their investment decisions. Sometimes, self-directed IRAs are referred to as “real estate IRAs”, but they can contain any investment allowed under Sec 408, including real estate, options on real estate, private placements, operating businesses, notes, and investment partnerships. The percentage of self-directed IRAs is small compared to the total number of IRAs existing.
Why Go With a Self-Directed IRA?
IRAs have always appealed to individuals who are not as comfortable with the common ups and downs of the stock market. Both Traditional and Roth IRAs are usually invested in a combination of stocks, bonds and mutual funds – so the self-directed IRA gives individuals another option to avoid the ups and downs of stock market investing and provides more control in how their IRA is invested. You can hold a self-directed IRA as either a Traditional or Roth IRA, which means the tax laws of the savings option you select will apply to your self-directed IRA. There are rules governing how assets are purchased (must be considered arm’s length transactions) and what can be purchased in order to qualify a self-directed IRA for IRA treatment – refer to Sec. 4975 to be sure the stipulations and requirements are met to avoid tax penalties.
With the ability to choose your own investment options in a self-directed IRA, you can clearly diversify your IRA investment. When setting up a self-directed IRA as a Roth IRA, you are allowed tax-free growth of the assets, which gives potentially larger returns than what is traditionally possible with retirement assets.
What Challenges Do Self-Directed IRA’s present?
Whenever you make a transaction, you must consider whether or not the transaction meets the requirements of a self-directed IRA. A custodian is also not allowed to give advice regarding investments. Setting up and managing a self-directed IRA requires more energy and is more complicated than other types of retirement investments.
If you are considering a self-directed IRA, you can minimize your risk by transferring a portion of another IRA fund into the new self-directed IRA. The risk is then limited to just that money. If investing in a business through a self-directed IRA, someone other than the owner of the IRA must run the business.