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Can Your Self Directed IRA Own Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies?

 

As the price Bitcoin (BTC) has surpassed $30,000, we have seen increased interest in using IRA and other retirement plan funds to own Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. But can your IRA, Roth IRA, solo(k) or other retirement account own Cryptocurrency? Yes, your IRA can invest in and own bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is a form of virtual currency using blockchain technology, and can be exchanged between parties for goods and services, or for dollars. When I wrote my first article on this topic and recorded the video on how it works I noted that from 2011 to July 2017, the value of Bitcoin has risen from $0.30 per Bitcoin to $2,550 per Bitcoin. It has recently surpassed $30,000 per Bitcoin. As investment interest and values have increased, we’ve been fielding questions from investors about whether their retirement account can invest in and own actual Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrency.

Can Your IRA Own Bitcoin or Other Cryptocurrency?

Well, the short answer is: “Yes, your IRA can own Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum and Litecoin.” The only items an IRA cannot invest in is life insurance, S-Corp stock, and collectibles as mentioned in IRC 408(m), which refers to tangible personal property such as “art, rugs, coins, etc.” and “any other tangible personal property the Secretary determines.” Bitcoin is certainly an intangible item by all accounts and would not be considered tangible. As a result, an IRA can own Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency since such investments are not restricted.

How Are Bitcoin Gains Taxed?

The IRS issued IRS Notice 2014-21 addressing the taxation of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, and stated that Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency are property. The sale of property by an IRA is generally treated as capital gain, so the buying and selling of cryptocurrency for investment purposes wouldn’t trigger unrelated business income tax (UBIT) or other adverse tax consequences that can occasionally arise in an IRA.

How Do I Own Bitcoin with My SDIRA?

There are three steps to own Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency with your IRA:

1. First, you will need a self-directed IRA or other account with a custodian who allows for alternative assets, such as LLCs. Our company, Directed IRA and Directed Trust Company, has worked with thousands of self-directed investors and can establish your self-directed IRA, Roth IRA, or solo(k) account that can be used to invest into cryptocurrency.

2. Second, you will invest funds from the IRA into the LLC. Your IRA will own an LLC 100%, and that LLC will have a business checking account. For more details on IRA/LLCs, please check out my prior video here.

3. And third, the IRA/LLC will use its LLC business checking account to establish a wallet to invest and own Bitcoin or other crypo through the wallet. The most widely used Bitcoin wallet is through a company called Coinbase, and you can use your wallet on Coinbase to buy, sell and digitally store your cryptocurrency. Other popular sites and exchanges include Binance, Kraken, and Bittrex. The wallet is the method used to store the cryptocurrency keys that are used to transfer the cryptocurrency. You can use off-line hardware wallets that the IRA/LLC purchases or you can wallets that are based on-line such at Coinbase.

There are already certain publicly-traded funds and other avenues (e.g. Bitcoin Investments Trust) where you can own shares of a fund that in turn owns Bitcoin. But, if you want to own Bitcoin directly with your IRA, you’d need to follow the steps outlined above. There are also companies who will own Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrency directly in your account without the need for an LLC. This option has two drawbacks investors should be aware of. First, the IRA custodian will have the keys to the cryptocurrency. These keys are the actual items you must have to transfer or sell the crypto to someone else. If the keys are lost, so is the crypto. It would be like losing possession of the cash. When you use an IRA/LLC, you have and hold the keys to the cryptocurrency. This puts you, the investor, in greater control and is why we have used the IRA/LLC structure to help self-directed IRA account holders own Cryptocurrency.

Keep in mind, Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency have significant potential in the digital age. However, as with any new market investment, make sure you proceed with caution, and don’t “bet the farm” or “go all in” on just one investment or deal. There have been repeated cases of digital fraud and loss of keys that have been devastating for investors so make sure you are working with reputable companies and sites when investing in Cryptocurrency with you IRA.

Do Good with Your IRA and Pay Zero Tax on Your Required Minimum Distributions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from IRAs can be a burden for taxpayers, by raising your annual income levels and possibly boosting you into a higher tax bracket. Using the Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) Rule, there is a way for IRA’s to do good. This rule allows IRA owners to exclude their RMDs from their annual income if given to a qualified charitable organization. Essentially, owners can deduct their RMDs on their tax returns if they give the money to a charity. A key benefit to the QCD is you pay zero tax on the distribution. That’s right, it’s a tax free distribution to a charity. You win, the charity wins, and the IRS loses.

Some of the rules and regulations are as follows:

  • You MUST be age 70½ or older on the date of the distribution.
  • The maximum annual exclusion per individual is $100,000.
  • The charity must qualify as a 501(c)(3) organization and be eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.
  • Each check will be made payable to the qualified charity and list your name as donor. Note: You should follow up with the charity directly for a receipt of your donation.

To break it down further, the charitable organization must qualify as a 501(c)(3) organization, which means it is federally tax exempt as a non-profit organization. Of course the owner of the IRA can give a larger sum than $100,00 to the charity of their choosing, though any excess distributions will not be excluded from their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). It is also very important to obtain a receipt from the selected charity for tax purposes.

Mat has been at the forefront of the self-directed IRA industry since 2006. He is the CEO of Directed IRA & Directed Trust Company where they handle all types of self-directed accounts (IRAs, Roth IRAs, HSAs, Coverdell ESA, Solo Ks, and Custodial Accounts) which are typically invested into real estate, private company/private equity, IRA/LLCs, notes, precious metals, and cryptocurrency. Mat is also a partner at KKOS Lawyers and serves clients nationwide from its Phoenix, AZ office.

He is published regularly on retirement, tax, and business topics, and is a VIP Contributor at Entrepreneur.com. Mat is the best-selling author of the most widely used book in the self-directed IRA industry, The Self-Directed IRA Handbook: An Authoritative Guide for Self-Directed Retirement Plan Investors and Their Advisors.

Back Door Roth IRA Rules and Steps

A pug puppy sadly starting at it's owner as the other puppies sit together with the text "Roth IRAs Are for High-Income Earners, Too"Roth IRAs can be established and funded for high-income earners by using what is known as the “back door” Roth IRA contribution method. Many high-income earners believe that they can’t contribute to a Roth IRA because they make too much money and/or because they participate in a company 401k plan. Fortunately, this thinking is wrong. While direct contributions to a Roth IRA are limited to taxpayers with income in excess of $137,000 ($206,000 for married taxpayers, 2020), those whose income exceeds these amounts may make annual contributions to a non-deductible traditional IRA and then convert those amounts over to a Roth IRA.

Examples

Here’s a few examples of earners who can establish and fund a Roth IRA.

  1. I’m a high-income earner and work for a company who offers a company 401(k) plan. I contribute the maximum amount to that plan each year. Can I establish and fund a Roth IRA? Yes, even though you are high-income and even though you participate in a company 401(k) plan, you can establish and fund a Roth IRA.
  2. I’m self-employed and earn over $206,000 a year; can I have a Roth IRA? Isn’t my income too high? Yes, you can contribute to a Roth IRA despite having income that exceeds the Roth IRA income contribution limits of $206,000 for married taxpayers and $137,000 for single taxpayers.

The Process

The strategy used by high-income earners to make Roth IRA contributions involves the making of non-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA and then converting those funds in the non-deductible traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. This is often times referred to as a “back door” Roth IRA. In the end, you don’t get a tax deduction in the amounts contributed, but the funds are held in a Roth IRA and grow, then come out tax-free upon retirement (just like a Roth IRA). Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Fund a new non-deductible traditional IRA

This IRA is “non-deductible” because high-income earners who participate in a company retirement plan (or who have a spouse who does) can’t also make “deductible” contributions to an IRA. The account can, however, be funded by non-deductible amounts up to the IRA annual contribution amounts of $6,000. The non-deductible contributions mean you don’t get a tax deduction on the amounts contributed to the traditional IRA. You don’t have to worry about having non-deductible contributions as you’re converting to a Roth IRA, so you don’t want a deduction for the funds contributed. If you did get a deduction for the contribution, you’d have to pay taxes on the amounts later converted to Roth. You’ll need to file IRS form 8606 for the tax year in which you make non-deductible IRA contributions. The form can be found here.

If you’re a high-income earner and you don’t have a company based retirement plan (or a spouse with one), then you simply establish a standard deductible traditional IRA, as there is no high-income contribution limitation on traditional IRAs when you don’t participate in a company plan.

Step 2: Convert the non-deductible traditional IRA funds to a Roth IRA

In 2010, the limitations on Roth IRA conversions, which previously restricted Roth IRA conversions for high-income earners, was removed. As a result, since 2010 all taxpayers are able to covert traditional IRA funds to Roth IRAs. It was in 2010 that this back door Roth IRA contribution strategy was first utilized, as it relied on the ability to convert funds from traditional to Roth. It has been used by thousands of Americans since.

If you have other existing traditional IRAs, then the tax treatment of your conversion to Roth becomes a little more complicated, as you must take into account those existing IRA funds when undertaking a conversion (including SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs). If the only IRA you have is the non-deductible IRA, then the conversion is easy because you convert the entire non-deductible IRA amount over to Roth with no tax on the conversion. Remember, you didn’t get a deduction into the non-deductible traditional IRA so there is not tax to apply on conversions. On the other hand, if you have an existing IRA with say $95,000 in it and you have $5,000 in non-deductible traditional IRA contributions in another account that you wish to convert to Roth, then the IRS requires you to covert over your IRA funds in equal parts deductible (the $95K bucket) and non-deductible amounts (the new $5K) based on the money you have in all traditional IRAs. So, if you wanted to convert $10,000, then you’d have to convert $9,500 (95%) of your deductible bucket, which portion of conversion is subject to tax, and $500 of your non-deductible bucket, which isn’t subject to tax once converted. Consequently, the “back door” Roth IRA isn’t well suited when you have existing traditional IRAs that contain deductible contributions and earnings from those sums.

There are two work-arounds to this Roth IRA conversion problem and both revolve around moving the existing traditional IRA funds into a 401(k) or other employer based plan. Employer plan funds are not considered when determining what portions of the traditional IRAs are subject to tax on conversion (the deductible AND the non-deductible). If you participate in an existing company 401(k) plan, then you may roll over your traditional IRA funds into that 401(k) plan. Most 401(k) plans allow for this rollover from IRA to 401(k) so long as you are still employed by that company. If you are self-employed, you may establish a solo or owner only 401(k) plan and you can roll over your traditional IRA dollars into this 401(k). In the end though, if you can’t roll out existing traditional IRA funds into a 401(k), then the “back door” Roth IRA is going to cause some tax repercussions, as you also have to convert a portion of the existing traditional IRA funds, which will cause taxes upon conversion. Taxes on conversion aren’t “the end of the world” though as all of the money that comes out of that traditional IRA would be subject to tax at some point in time. The only issue is it causes a big tax bill initially, so careful planning must be taken.

The bottom line is that Roth IRAs can be established and funded by high-income earners. Don’t consider yourself “left out” on one of the greatest tax strategies offered to Americans: the Roth IRA.

Mat has been at the forefront of the self-directed IRA industry since 2006. He is the CEO of Directed IRA & Directed Trust Company where they handle all types of self-directed accounts (IRAs, Roth IRAs, HSAs, Coverdell ESA, Solo Ks, and Custodial Accounts) which are typically invested into real estate, private company/private equity, IRA/LLCs, notes, precious metals, and cryptocurrency. Mat is also a partner at KKOS Lawyers and serves clients nationwide from its Phoenix, AZ office.

He is published regularly on retirement, tax, and business topics, and is a VIP Contributor at Entrepreneur.com. Mat is the best-selling author of the most widely used book in the self-directed IRA industry, The Self-Directed IRA Handbook: An Authoritative Guide for Self-Directed Retirement Plan Investors and Their Advisors.

New Stimulus Bill Unlocks IRA and 401(k) Dollars for Financially Affected

From my article on Entrepreneur.

The coronavirus stimulus bill signed into law on March 27 creates new exceptions that allow 401(k) and IRA owners affected by the pandemic to tap into their retirement accounts early. The new law increases the dollar amount you can loan yourself from your own 401(k) from $50,000 to $100,000 and also creates a penalty-free early distribution rule whereby IRA or 401(k) account owners under age 59-and-a-half can take a penalty-free retirement account distribution of up to $100,000. Read the article on Entrepreneur here.