Archive for July 2011

Top Five Checkbook Control IRA Mistakes

#1.Making Contributions to the IRA LLC
The Self Directed IRA owner wants to make an annual contribution to the IRA and does not send it to the IRA custodian first but instead writes a check to the IRA LLC checking account. In this case, you are personally interacting with our IRA LLC. That is considered a prohibited transaction. Remember your IRA contribution is only considered valid when it has been received by your IRA custodian. The correct way to do this is send your IRA custodian your contribution and have them send a check to the IRA LLC as a capital contribution.
#2.Engaging in a Transaction with a Disqualified Party
A key rule that you must know if you are going to have a Self Directed IRA and take Checkbook Control of your IRA is Internal Revenue Code 4975. It has a specific list of persons and entities which are prohibited from interacting with your IRA owned LLC. The list includes you and your spouse, your children and your grandchildren, your parents and your grandparents and all there spouses. It also includes any business that any of those individuals own 50% or more. It is your responsibility to act in the best interest of the LLC and to know the rules of self dealing.
#3.Use of Personal assets and Sweat Equity
The owner of the IRA is clearly allowed to manage the investments of the checkbook IRA LLC. The management can be very involved; it could require considerable effort to find the right real estate and the right tenants. The problem is a prohibited transaction or indirect benefit line could be crossed if the the IRA owner were to use their personal tools and equipment to improve the property. Another mistake is the IRA owner provides all of the labor for making the improvements.
A good rule to follow is that you are allowed to manage the LLC assets, but you should not provide sweat equity or use your personal assets to improve the property.
#4.Making a Personal Guarantee
The IRA account owner is a disqualified person and cannot make a personal guarantee of a loan for the IRA LLC. The account holder cannot guarantee a loan to purchase property, nor could you open a margin account at a brokerage firm in which you personally guarantee to cover any margin calls. This could also apply in cases where the LLC is attempting to get a credit card from the bank, and the bank requires a personal guarantee on that card. IRA account holders cannot extend credit to the IRA owned LLC.
#5.IRA Owner Receives Fees or Commissions from IRA Transactions
There are cases where an IRA owner is also a real estate agent and they want to earn a commission from selling property to their IRA owned LLC or some other disqualified party’s IRA LLC. This transaction would be viewed as conducting a transaction with your IRA or receiving an indirect benefit and would be considered a prohibited transaction. If you or a disqualified party is receiving a direct benefit from the IRA account this is clearly not allowed.
There are those that would say “that a disqualified person can be paid reasonable fees and expenses for providing services to the IRA”. Such an example could be that your spouse is an attorney and your self directed IRA LLC hires her to review a legal contract that your LLC is about to engage in. There are not any clear guide lines as to what is “reasonable fees”. So, my position on any transaction with a disqualified person is just don’t do it! If you feel your situation may be an exception to this, then you should get someone with extensive knowledge of ERISA rules to give you an opinion. As harmless as some of these transactions may appear to be, I feel it is better to stay clear of having a potential prohibited transaction in your IRA LLC.
Here at do not offer legal advice and would recommend that you get legal advice before engaging in any transaction with your IRA owned LLC.
Remember no one cares more about your retirement than you do so continue to educate yourself on the power of self direction and using an IRA owned LLC. It’s your retirement take control of it.
Timothy Schubert CISP

Do you need a Self Directed IRA?

Have you been watching your retirement account on a continuous spiral down? My wife just received her quarterly statement from her 401k and it showed a loss of more than 11% for the quarter. Her 401k limits her to stock market based mutual funds, she has no other choices she is a prisoner to the stock market period. If you are tired of watching your IRA spiral out of control there a select few IRA providers that will allow you to get out of the stock market and invest in alternative investments. In fact, IRAs can handle a wide variety of assets, including real estate, precious metals and private business interests. But in order to own these special assets in a retirement account, you’ll have to find a firm that offers a self directed IRA. You can go to any financial institution and open an IRA, but only a select few will allow you to invest in assets other than ordinary stocks and mutual funds.
Why you need it
There are many reasons why having a self directed IRA is a good idea. For most Americans their retirement accounts is where the bulk of their cash is. As a result, if you want to take advantage of an opportunity to make a large investment in something different like real estate or private businesses a self directed IRA has that flexibility.
You may have more profit potential in small start ups or in a foreclosure on real estate. Just as venture capitalists look to get in on the ground floor of a business with good concepts and ideas, using your IRA to make an early investment in a promising business can give you a huge advantage if your IRA is in your control.
What if you want to invest in real estate? It’s hard to find stocks that give you the same type of exposure that owning a particular property gives you. You could buy publicly traded REITs but those are huge diversified companies with holdings nationwide which provides stability, but at the cost of profits.
What you should know
You need to know the rules of retirement accounts if you are going to take control of your retirement funds. First no self dealing, that means you are prohibited from benefiting from your retirements investments. If you own an asset like a beach front rental property, you can’t use it for your own personal benefit. If you are considering borrowing to make a purchase in your retirement account you need to know the rules of extending credit and non recourse loans. Your personal funds cannot get comingled with your retirement funds.
What it comes down to is that you have a lot of money in an IRA and want to expand your investments beyond ordinary securities; a self directed IRA can help you do what you want with your money. It’s your money and you should be in control of it.
Timothy Schubert CISP