How should you choose your IRA Custodian for your investing deals?

Choosing an IRA custodian is as important as choosing investments. Some custodians do not allow alternative investments to be acquired as assets using your IRA. Some self-directed IRA administrators that allow alternative investments (such as real estate investing) may restrict the types of investments they allow as holdings. Additionally, there are strict rules and regulations one must follow when purchasing assets. If you make the mistake of acquiring an asset your custodian does not allow, you and your IRA may suffer harsh penalties handed down by the IRS. The same is so if you perform a transaction that falls outside the boundaries set forth in the rules that govern retirement funds.  Access the Advanta IRA ppt that Kevin Collins presented at our meeting in June –  Retirement Revolution Presentation

If you want to control your own investment funds in your IRA, you must first make sure you open an account with an administrator that facilitates self-directed IRAs. These accounts allow a myriad of alternative investments in them, such as real estate, private lending opportunities, precious metals, oil and gas options…and much more. As the account owner, you have the freedom to choose your own investments to build wealth toward retirement. The custodian acts only at your direction to acquire assets in your account.

Even though laws governing IRAs allow real estate and other non-traditional investments in your account, not all custodians allow those assets. A recent example of this was illustrated by the tax court in a proceeding filed by Guy Dabney. Although Dabney familiarized himself with IRS allowances of assets in IRAs, he failed to comply with the rules of his IRA custodian, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., who does not allow real estate in the IRAs they administrate. Even so, Dabney performed an action to acquire the real estate that he thought would constitute a permissible trustee-to-trustee transaction. He had Charles Schwab wire $114,000 directly from his IRA to the company selling the property and asked the property be titled “Guy M. Dabney Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. Cust. IRA Contributory.” The purchase was made, however, the property was accidentally titled in his name. Dabney was able to have that clerical error officially fixed, but Schwab still sent Dabney a 1099-R form, declaring he had taken an early distribution which was taxable to him as he was not yet of the age of 59 1/2. Dabney did not report the withdrawal on his income tax that year, stating the real estate purchase was made by the IRA and / or should be considered a trustee-to-trustee transfer because of the way the property was acquired.

In considering the case, the IRS made several determinations. First, Schwab does not permit real estate investment purchases or holdings in their accounts; second, the title company to which the $114,00 was transferred was not, in fact, an IRA trustee and therefore, no trustee-to-trustee transaction was performed. There were a few other reasons the tax court based their decision on, which can be read in full in an article published by Parker Tax Publishing, and the withdrawal was considered an early distribution—and taxable for Dabney under IRS regulations.

The main takeaway here is that even though self-directed IRAs give you control of your investment decisions—you are responsible for adhering to your IRA custodian’s own set of rules regarding investments they will allow your account to hold. Not all custodians are created equal! Due diligence in researching a custodian that is a good fit for your investment endeavors is critically important. Dabney could have avoided his unfortunate complications had he decided to roll funds from his Schwab IRA into a self-directed IRA administered by a custodian that allows real estate assets and made the purchase from that account. Be sure to select a firm that is accessible, willing to discuss your transaction, assist you in completing the required forms, and ensures you provide the proper documentation. Most importantly, a firm that give you and your retirement portfolio the personalized service you deserve.

With Boston AREIA’s vendor, Kevin Collins of AdvantaIRA, you will get the personalized service you are looking for when doing your real estate investing deals in and around the Boston area.  If you would like to learn more about how self-directed IRAs can build wealth toward retirement, please contact Kevin Collins at AdvantaIRA Trust by calling 617-830-1070 or emailing

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