Self-directed retirement accounts provide a great deal of freedom, flexibility, and a wealth of investment choices. Along with freedom and flexibility come rules that investors need to be aware of. These rules are mandated by the IRS to ensure that your retirement plan does not provide you any personal benefits until you retire. Be sure you understand these rules so your account is in compliance and does not suffer penalties, taxation, or loss of its tax-sheltered status. In addition, you should always consult your attorney, tax, and/or investment professionals regarding your investment decisions.

Prohibited Transactions

Some types of self-directed transactions violate the basic intent of your IRA and may subject your account to risks and penalties. Your retirement plan is not to benefit you before you reach retirement age. Actions providing immediate financial gain to the account holder or other disqualified persons/parties are not allowed. Examples include:

  • Borrowing money from your IRA
  • Selling, exchanging, or leasing personally owned property to your IRA
  • Receiving unreasonable compensation for managing property held by the IRA
  • Using your IRA as security for a loan
  • Transferring plan income or assets to disqualified persons
  • Lending IRA money to disqualified persons
  • Extending credit on your IRA to disqualified persons
  • Furnishing goods, services, or facilities to disqualified persons
  • Allowing fiduciaries to obtain or use the plan’s income or assets for their own interest

Who Are Disqualified Persons?

  • The IRA holder and his/her spouse
  • The IRA holder’s lineal descendants, ascendants, and their spouses
  • Investment advisors and managers
  • Corporations, trusts, partnerships, or estates in which the IRA holder owns a 50 percent or greater interest
  • Anyone providing services to the IRA, such as the trustee or custodian

Prohibited Investment Types

You may NOT invest your self-directed IRA funds in life insurance products or collectibles, which include works of art, rugs, antiques, and alcoholic beverages. You may invest your IRA in precious metals, but the metal must be an approved metal meeting certain fineness requirements.

Additional Resources