Sep 18

Investing in Real Estate with a Self-Directed Solo 401k Plan

Most people mistakenly believe that their 401(k) must be invested in bank CDs, the stock market, or mutual funds. Few Investors realize that the IRS has always permitted real estate to be held inside 401(k) retirement accounts. Investments in real estate with a Solo 401(k) are fully permissible under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). IRS rules permit you to engage in almost any type of real estate investment, aside generally from any investment involving a disqualified person.

Advantages of Using a Solo 401(k) to Purchase Real Estate

Income or gains generated by a 401(k) Plan generate tax-deferred/tax-free profits. Using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase real estate allows 401(k) for Real Estatethe 401(k) to earn tax-free income/gains and pay taxes at a future date, rather than in the year the investment produces income.

With a Solo 401K, you can invest tax-free and not have to pay taxes right away – or in most cases for many years allowing your retirement funds to grow tax-free! All the income or gains from your real estate deals flow though to your 401(k) account tax-free!

Types of Real Estate Investments

Below is a partial list of domestic or foreign real estate-related investments that you can make with a Solo 401(k):

  • Raw land
  • Residential homes
  • Commercial property
  • Apartments
  • Duplexes
  • Condos/townhomes
  • Mobile homes
  • Real estate notes
  • Real estate purchase options
  • Tax liens certificates
  • Tax deeds

Investing in Real Estate with a Solo 401(k) is Quick & Easy!

Purchasing real estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan is essentially the same as purchasing real estate personally.

  • Set-up a Solo 401(k) Plan with the IRA Financial Group.
  • Identify the investment property.
  • Purchase the investment property with the Solo 401(k) Plan – no need to seek the consent of the custodian with a Solo 401(k) Plan since you serve as Trustee and Plan Administrator.
  • Title to the investment property and all transaction documents should be in the name of the Solo 401(k) Plan. Documents pertaining to the property investment must be signed by you as Trustee.
  • All expenses paid from the investment property go through the Solo 401(k) Plan. Likewise, all rental income checks must be deposited directly in to the Solo 401(k) Plan bank account. No 401(k) related investment checks should be deposited into your personal accounts.
  • All income or gains from the investment flow through to your 401(k) tax-free!

Solo 401K Solution

Structuring the Purchase of Real Estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan

When using a Solo 401(k) to make a real estate investment there are a number of ways you can structure the transaction:

1. Use your Solo 401(k) funds to make 100% of the investment

If you have enough funds in your Solo 401(k) to cover the entire real estate purchase, including closing costs, taxes, fees, insurance, you may make the purchase outright using your Solo 401(k). All ongoing expenses relating to the real estate investment must be paid out of your Solo 401(k) bank account. In addition, all income or gains relating to your real estate investment must be returned to your Solo 401(k) bank account.

2. Partner with Family, Friends, Colleagues

If you don’t have sufficient funds in your Solo 401(k) to make a real estate purchase outright, your Solo 401(k) can purchase an interest in the property along with a family member (non-disqualified person), friend, or colleague. The investment would not be made into an entity owned by the 401(k) owner, but instead would be invested directly into the property.

For example, your Solo 401(k) Plan could partner with a family member, friend, or colleague to purchase a piece of property for $150,000. Your Solo 401(k) Plan could purchase an interest in the property (i.e. 50% for $75,000) and your family member, friend, or colleague could purchase the remaining interest (i.e. 50% for $75,000).

All income or gain from the property would be allocated to the parties in relation to their percentage of ownership in the property. Likewise, all property expenses must be paid in relation to the parties’ percentage of ownership in the property. Based on the above example, for a $2,000 property tax bill, the Solo 401(k) would be responsible for 50% of the bill ($1000) and the family member, friend, or colleague would be responsible for the remaining $1000 (50%).

Isn’t Partnering with a family member in a Real Estate Transaction a Prohibited Transaction?

Likely not if the transaction is structured correctly. Investing in an investment entity with a family member and investing in an investment property directly are two different transaction structures that impact whether the transaction will be prohibited under Code Section 4975. The different tax treatment is based on who currently owns the investment. Using a Solo 401(k) Plan to invest in an entity that is owned by a family member who is a disqualified person will likely be treated as a prohibited transaction. However, partnering with a family member that is a non-disqualified person directly into an investment property would likely not be a prohibited transaction. Note: If you, a family member, or other disqualified person already owns a property, then investing in that property with your Solo 401(k) would be prohibited.

3. Borrow Money for your Solo 401(k)

You may obtain financing through a loan or mortgage to finance a real estate purchase using a Solo 401(k). Solo 401(k) participants can also borrow up to either $50,000 or 50% of their account value – whichever is less to help finance a real estate investment.

If using financing through a third-party loan to purchase real estate (other than a loan from the 401(k) Plan), one important point must be considered when selecting this option:

  • Loan must be non-recourse – A “prohibited transaction” is a transaction that, directly or indirectly involves the loan of money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person. Normally, when an individual purchases real estate with a mortgage, the traditional loan provides for recourse against the borrower (i.e., personal liability for the mortgage). However, if the 401(k) Plan purchases real estate and secures a mortgage for the purchase, the loan must be non-recourse; otherwise there will be a prohibited transaction. A non-recourse loan only uses the property for collateral. In the event of default, the lender can collect only the property and cannot go after the 401(k) Plan itself.

Note: Unlike a Self-Directed IRA LLC, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 514(c)(9), in the case of a Solo 401(k) Plan, the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBTI) does not apply when using nonrecourse leverage as part of a real estate transaction (unrelated debt-financed income – UDFI). Therefore, unlike a Self-Directed IRA LLC, using a Solo 401K to finance a real estate investment will not trigger UBTI – which imposes a tax in the range of 40% for 2017 on all income/gains relating to the debt financed portion of the investment.

To learn more about using a Solo 401(k) Plan to invest in real estate, please contact one of our Solo 401(k) Plan Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Sep 12

What Advantages Does ROBS Have When Starting a Business?

When it comes to using retirement funds to buy or finance a business that you or another “disqualified person” will be involved in personally, there is only one legal way to do it and that is through the Business Acquisition Solution, also known as a Rollover Business Start-Up (ROBS). The ROBS solution takes advantage of an exception in the tax code under Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 4975(d) that allows one to use 401(k) plan funds to buy stock in a “C” Corporation, which is known as “qualifying employer securities”. The exception to the IRS prohibited transaction rules found in IRC 4975(d) requires that a 401(k) plan buy “qualifying employer securities”, which is defined as stock of a “C” Corporation. This is the reason why one cannot use a self-directed IRA LLC to invest in a business the IRA holder or a disqualified person will be personally involved in or why a 401(k) plan cannot invest in an LLC in which the plan participant or disqualified person will be involved in without triggering the prohibited transaction rules.

So How Does the ROBS Solution Work?

The structure typically involves the following sequential steps:

1. An entrepreneur or existing business owner establishes a new C Corporation;

What Advantages Does ROBS Have When Starting a Business?2. The C Corporation adopts a prototype 401(k) plan that specifically permits plan participants to direct the investment of their plan accounts into a selection of investment options, including employer stock, also known as “qualifying employer securities.”

3. The entrepreneur elects to participate in the new 401(k) plan and, as permitted by the plan, directs a rollover or trustee-to-trustee transfer of retirement funds from another qualified retirement plan into the newly adopted 401(k) plan;

4. The entrepreneur then directs the investment of his or her 401(k) plan account to purchase the C Corporation’s newly issued stock at fair market value ( i.e., the amount that the entrepreneur wishes to invest in the new business); and finally

5.The C Corporation utilizes the proceeds from the sale of stock to purchase an existing business or to begin a new venture.

What Are Some of the Advantages of the ROBS Solution?

  • Save Money: The primary advantage of establishing a ROBS solution is to be able to use your retirement funds to invest in a business you will be personally involved in without having to pay tax the retirement funds you wish to use as a distribution to tax and potentially penalty. By being able to invest the retirement funds into the business without having to take a taxable distribution and a 10% early distribution penalty if under the age of 591/2, using a ROBS solution could save someone close to 45% of the distribution amount. For example, if someone under the age of 591/2 was looking to use $100,000 of retirement funds to fund a business and ended up taking a taxable distribution of that amount, that individual would likely have to pay approximately 45% of the 100,000 or $45,000 in tax to the IRS when declaring the distribution on their tax return. The tax rate could be lower if the individual was in a lower income tax bracket or the retirement funds needed were insignificant, but using a ROBS solution would save having to pay tax and potentially a 10% penalty on that amount.
  • Invest in Yourself: The ROBS solution allows one to invest their retirement funds in a business that will be actively run by the retirement account holder. As a result, one is essentially investing their retirement funds in themselves rather than on Wall Street. Of course, not all businesses are successful. According to Bloomberg, close to 80% of new businesses fail in the first 18 months. Hence, investing your hard earned retirement funds in a new business is certainly a risk. However, it is a risk that you are legally entitled to take as per the Internal Revenue Code. Using retirement funds to invest in your business is not for everyone, but for those entrepreneurs that would rather invest in themselves than Wall Street, the ROBS solution is an option.
  • Diversification: There is a growing sentiment among financial advisors, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, that in order to protect your retirement funds from a market downturn, your retirement funds should be well diversified. One can generally not eliminate investment risk completely, but one can manage your level of risk. Every investment has some amount of risk, however, having your retirement funds invested in different types of investments, such as stocks, real estate, and even private businesses, can be a way of diversifying your retirement portfolio and better protecting your retirement funds. Also, it is believed that diversification can enable a retirement portfolio to grow both when markets boom and returns crumble in one sector One should certainly work with a financial planner and tax professional when looking at investment options, especially when it comes to using retirement funds to buy a business.
  • Earn a Salary: In order for one to be a participant of a 401(k) Plan, one needs to be an employee of the business, which adopted the plan. This is the reason why if you own Apple or IBM stock but don’t work at those companies, you cannot participate in their company 401(k) plans. Hence, in order to be eligible to participate in the corporation 401(k) plan you must become a W-2 employee of the C Corporation. For many entrepreneurs the ability to earn a salary and be actively involved in the business is the reason they are using a ROBS solution versus using a self-directed IRA.
  • Benefit from having a 401(k) Retirement Plan: One of the best ways for you to save toward your own retirement and ensure your future security is through an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. Below are some of the advantages of offering and participating ion a 401(k) Plan.
  • Matching Contributions Many employers will match a portion of your savings: It’s like passing up free money if you don’t participate. A safe harbor 401(k) Plan, which is a popular type of 401(k) plan for small businesses, offer employees who participate in the plan a 3% matching contribution made by the employer. Thus, for example, if the employee earns $40,000 in salary during the year and contributes 3% of the salary of $1200 to the 401(k) plan, the employer would contribute an additional $1200 (3% of the salary) to the individual 401(k) plan account.
  • Retaining employees: with most businesses offering their employees retirement benefits, it is worthwhile for small businesses to compete for talented workers by implementing 401(k) benefits. Offering 401(k) plan benefits is a great way to retain key employees. In general, when potential hires are considering multiple job offers, they’ll compare those offers based on corporate culture, growth opportunities, and benefits packages. –
  • Easy Administration: 401(k) Plan administration is now easier and more cost-effective than ever with Internet options available to small employers. In addition, IRA Financial Group offers recordkeeping and third-party administration services for your plan allowing you to spend more time focusing on your business and less on your plan.
  • You Can Participate As Well: You are eligible to participate in the company 401(k) plan if you are an owner or an employee of the company that sponsor’s the 401(k) plan. Current regulations allow plan participants to contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 if over the age of 50) of their income on a pre-tax basis each year. That means that in addition to your tax savings for offering the plan and providing matching contributions, you’ll receive yet another tax savings for participating in the plan. This savings can be substantial – an owner in the 35% tax bracket who made the maximum contribution would have saved approximately $6,500 in taxes in 2014.

To learn more about the benefits of the ROBS strategy, please contact a retirement tax expert at 800-472-0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Sep 09

401(k) Loans Are Viable Last Resort For Hurricane Victims

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

Hurricane Harvey has set a record for rainfall in the continental United States. It is estimated that some 100,000 homes have been affected by Harvey all with differing degrees of insurance coverage.  In addition, at least 37 people have died from the storm.

Over the coming weeks we will be hearing news about payout projections by insurers, but chances are those dollars will flow to the commercial sector, not homeowners. If the 2012 Hurricane Sandy is a predictor, households are facing a severely diminished quality of life, financial frustration, a long process for applying for grants and aid, and way too little insurance funding in relation to the premiums they’ve been paying. Many insurance experts estimate that only a relatively small percentage of the Harvey-impacted homes and businesses will have adequate flood insurance. For those without it, there is a short list of possible bases for coverage under a home policy.  However, for Harvey storm victims who are participating in an employer 401(k) plan or who are self-employed, an unorthodox financing option exists that can help storm victims borrow up to $50,000 tax-free and penalty free from their 401(k) plan.

Internal Revenue Code Section 72(p) allows a Solo 401(k) plan participant to take a loan from his or her 401(k) plan so as long as it is permitted pursuant to the business’s 401(k) plan documents. The loan proceeds can be used for any purpose.  In order to be eligible to take a loan from a 401(k) plan, the solo 401(k) plan documents must specifically provide for a loan program

In general, to avoid having a 401(k) plan loan treated as a taxable distribution to the recipient, the following conditions must be satisfied (IRC Sec. 72(p)(2)).

  • The loan must have level amortization, with payments made at least quarterly.
  • The recipient generally must repay the loan within five years, although a fifteen year period can be used for the purchase of a primary residence.
  • The loan must not exceed statutory limits.

401(k) Loans Are Viable Last Resort For Hurricane VictimsGenerally, the maximum amount that an employee may borrow at any time is one-half the present value of his vested account balance, not to exceed $50,000. The maximum amount, however, is calculated differently if an individual has more than one outstanding loan from the plan.  A 401k loan is permitted at any time using the accumulated balance of the solo 401k as collateral for the loan. In other words, a Solo 401(k) participant can borrow up to either $50,000 or 50% of their account value, whichever is less. This loan has to be repaid over an amortization schedule of five years or less with payment frequency no less than quarterly.  The lowest interest rate that can be used is prime as per the Wall Street Journal, which as of September 1, 2017 is currently 4.25%. However, if a loan fails to satisfy the statutory requirements regarding the loan amount, the loan term, and the repayment schedule, the loan is in default and is considered a deemed distribution. In addition, another potential disadvantage of taking a 401(k) plan loan is that the borrowed funds are removed from investment in the market, forfeiting potential tax-exempt gains.

For Harvey storm victims participating in an employer 401(k) plan, taking a 401(k) loan can be done generally by contacting the 401(k) plan administrator.  Whereas, for individuals who are self-employed or have a business with no full-time employees, other than a spouse or partner(s), a Solo 401(k) plan with a loan option can be adopted quite easily, which will allow such individuals to borrow up to $50,000 and use the proceeds for any purpose, including paying for home repairs, purchasing a car, paying living expenses, paying credit card debt, or other expenses.

In the case of Harvey storm victims, the primary advantage of using a 401(k) loan feature is that the individual will gain the ability to use up to $50,000 of retirement funds without tax or penalty.  In addition, the loan payments of principal and interest are paid back by the individual to his/her plan account, thus, increasing the overall value of the 401(k) plan assets over the loan period. Drawbacks of taking a retirement plan loan include the loss of compounding for assets in the plan, as well as the fact that loans are repaid with after-tax dollars, resulting in a loss of tax-free or tax-deferred advantages of such an account.

For more information about using a loan from your 401(k) plan, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Sep 06

Why Choose IRA Financial Group for Your Individual 401(k) Plan?

An IRA Financial Group Individual 401(k), also known as a Solo 401(k), offers lots of benefits.  Here are just a few –

Excellence: Our in-house retirement tax professionals have worked at some of the largest law firms in the United States, including White & Case LLP and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP. Their tax and ERISA experience is unmatched in the industry and is the reason we are considered the leading facilitator of true “Checkbook Control” Solo 401(k) Plan structures.

Why Choose IRA Financial Group for Your Individual 401(k) Plan?Work directly with our in-house retirement tax professionals to set-up an IRS compliant Solo 401K Plan. Our clients have direct access to our in-house retirement tax professionals to ensure that the Solo 401K Plan is customized to satisfy the client’s retirement and investment objectives. In fact, we encourage our clients to contact our in-house retirement tax professionals with any tax and ERISA questions concerning the structure or a proposed investment to ensure full IRS compliance.

Our Solo 401K experts will take care of the entire set-up of your IRS compliant Solo 401k Plan. Our Solo 401k Plan experts and tax and ERISA professionals are on site greatly reducing the set-up time and cost. You will find that our fee for this service is significantly less than other companies that perform the same or similar services.

Leader: IRA Financial Group is the markets leading provider of Solo 401(k) Plans. We have helped thousands of clients take back control over their retirement funds while gaining the ability to invest in almost any type of investments.

Value: We strive to offer our clients customized Solo 401(k) Plans at a fair and reasonable price. Whereas our competitors are forced to outsource much or all of their tax work and consultation, each client of the IRA Financial Group is assigned to one of our in-house retirement tax professionals allowing us to offer customized Solo 401(k) Plans for significantly less than our competitors.

We provide the following all for one low price:

  • Free tax consultation with our in-house tax and ERISA professionals
  • Adoption Agreement
  • Basic Plan Document
  • EGTRRA Amendment
  • Summary Plan Description
  • Trust Agreement
  • Appointment of Trustee
  • Beneficiary Designation
  • Loan Procedure
  • Loan Promissory Note
  • Free tax updates
  • Free tax and ERISA support
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Integrity: We are guided by the rules of ethical conduct in all that we do. Our relationships with clients are built on trust, respect, and confidentiality.

Innovative: We anticipate the changing tax and financial needs of our clients and creatively adapt our Solo 401(k) Plan tax solutions to address them.

Results: We are committed to our clients’ satisfaction and strive to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations.

IRA Financial Group will take care of everything. The whole process can be handled by phone, email, fax, or mail. Our expert tax and ERISA professionals are on site greatly reducing the set-up time and cost. Most importantly, you will find that our fee for this service is significantly less than other companies that perform the same or similar services.

Please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Sep 01

Solo 401(k) Asset Protection

Retirement accounts have become many Americans’ most valuable assets. That means it is vital that you have the ability to protect them from creditors, such as people who have won lawsuits against you.

In general, the asset/creditor protection strategies available to you depend on the type of retirement account you have (i.e. Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or 401(k) qualified plan, etc.), your state residency, and whether the assets are yours or have been inherited.

Federal Protection for 401(k) Plan Qualified Plan for Bankruptcy

Effective for bankruptcies filed after October 17, 2005, the following rules give protection to a debtor’s retirement funds in bankruptcy by way of exempting them from the bankruptcy estate. The general exemption found in sec­tion 522 of the Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. §522, pro­vides an unlimited exemption for retirement assets ex­empt from taxation for Section 401(a) (tax qualified retirement plans—pen­sions, profit-sharing and section 401(k) plans). Thus, ERISA qualified plans as well as Solo 401(k) plans are afforded full bankruptcy exemption. What this means is that if a participant of a 401(k) Plan declares bankruptcy, his or her 401(k) plan assets will be exempt from the bankruptcy proceeding and could not be attached by the bankruptcy’s estates creditors.

Federal Protection for 401(k) Plan Qualified Plan Funds Outside of Bankruptcy

In the case of a debtor who is not under the ju­risdiction of the federal bankruptcy court but rath­er has become involved in a state law insolvency, enforcement, or garnishment proceeding, the 2005 Bankruptcy Act is inapplicable and the ERISA rules and state laws would govern.

Solo 401(k) Asset ProtectionTitle I of ERISA requires that a pension plan provide that benefits under the plan may not be assigned or alienated; i.e., the plan must provide a contractual “anti‑alienation” clause. For the anti-alienation clause to be effec­tive, the underlying plan must constitute a “pension plan” under ERISA. Such a plan is any “plan, fund or program which…provides retirement income to employees.” ERISA §3(2)(A).. Therefore, a plan that does not benefit any common-law employee is not an ERISA pension plan. As a result, a Solo 401(k) Plan is not treated as an ERISA Plan.

In addition to the ERISA protection, the Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a)(13(A) provides that “[a] trust shall not constitute a qualified trust under this section unless the plan of which such trust is a part provides that benefits provided under the plan may not be assigned or alienated. Thus, a retirement plan will not attain qualified status unless it precludes both volun­tary and involuntary assignments.

Note – neither ERISA nor Code protections apply to assets held under individual retirement arrange­ments, simplified employee pension plans, govern­ment plans, or most church plans.

Furthermore, ERISA sec­tion 514(a) provides that ERISA supersedes state laws insofar as such laws relate to employee benefit plans. The ERISA anti-alienation and preemption provisions combine to make state attachment and garnishment laws inapplicable to an individual’s benefits under an ERISA-covered employee ben­efit plan.

Exceptions

There are a number of exceptions to ERISA’s and the Code’s anti‑alienation provisions:

1. Qualified domestic relations orders (“QDROs”), as defined in Internal Revenue Code Section 414(p), may be exempted (Internal Revenue Code §401(a)(13)(B); ERISA §206(d)(3)). This means that retirement plan assets are a marital asset sub­ject to division in divorce and attachment for child support.

2. Up to 10 percent of any benefit in pay status may be voluntarily and revocably assigned or alienated (Internal Revenue Code §401(a)(13)(A); Treas. Reg. §1.401(a)-13(d)(1); ERISA §206(d)(2)).

3. A participant may direct the plan to pay a ben­efit to a third party if the direction is revocable and the third party files acknowledgment of lack of en­forceability (Treas. Reg. §1.401(a)-13(e)).

4. Federal tax levies and judgments are exempt­ed. The Treasury Regulations under Code section 401(a)(13) provide that plan benefits are subject to attachment by the IRS in common law and com­munity property states.

In addition to the statutory exceptions noted above, several court decisions have held that an individual’s retirement plan benefits may be sub­ject to attachment for federal criminal penalties or restitution arising from a crime

Solo 401(k) Plans

A debtor’s plan benefits under a pension, prof­it-sharing, or section 401(k) plan are generally safe from creditor claims both inside and outside of bankruptcy due to ERISA and the Code’s broad anti-alienation protections. However, case law and Department of Labor Regulations have held that such a plan that benefits only an owner (and/or an owner’s spouse) are not ERISA plans, thus voiding the anti-alienation protections generally afforded to ERISA plans. Thus, state law will govern the protection afforded to Solo 401(k) Plans outside the bankruptcy context.

State Law Protection of Solo 401(k) Plan Assets Outside of Bankruptcy

Because case law and Department of Labor Regulations have held that such a plan that benefits only an owner (and/or an owner’s spouse) are not ERISA plans, thus voiding the anti-alienation protections generally afforded to ERISA plans, state law will govern the protection afforded to Solo 401(k) Plans outside the bankruptcy context.

Asset Protection Planning

The different federal and state creditor protection afforded to 401(k) qualified plans and IRS inside or outside the bankruptcy context presents a number of important asset protection planning opportunities.

If, for example, you have left an employer where you had a qualified plan, rolling over assets from a qualified plan, like a 401(k), into an IRA may have asset protection implications. For example, if you live in or are moving to a state where IRAs are not protected from creditors or have in excess of $1million dollars in plan assets and are contemplating bankruptcy, you would likely be better off leaving the assets in the company qualified plan.

Note – If you plan to leave at least some of your IRA to your family, other than your spouse, the assets may not be protected from your beneficiaries’ creditors, depending on where the beneficiaries live. IRA assets left to a spouse would likely receive creditor protection if the IRA is re-titled in the name of the spouse. However, you will likely be able to protect your IRA assets that you plan on leaving to your family, other than your spouse, by leaving an IRA to a trust. To do that, you must name the trust on the IRA custodian Designation of Beneficiary Form on file.

The Solo 401(k) Asset & Creditor Protection Solution

By having and maintaining a Solo 401(k) Plan, the people to whom you owe money – as a result of normal debt, bankruptcy or a civil court judgment – will likely not be able to reach your Solo 401(k) assets to satisfy the debt. However, Solo 401(k) Plan assets are not federally protected from divorce settlements or federal tax liens. As illustrated above, most states will afford Solo 401(k) Plans full protection from creditors outside of the bankruptcy context.

Please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Aug 28

Individual 401(k) Loan Rules

Under an Individual 401(k) Plan, also known as a Solo 401(k) plan, a plan participant may be eligible to obtain a loan from the vested balance of the Individual 401(k) plan balance without triggering a distribution subject to tax or penalty. With IRA Financial Group’s Individual 401(k) plan, the IRA or 401(k) plan funds rolled into the new Individual 401(k) plan, as well as any employee deferrals would be vested immediately. In general, diverting plan assets for personal use before a valid distribution usually triggers a prohibited transaction, however, the plan loan feature represents the only limited exception to the prohibited transaction rules (Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d)(1) and ERISA Section 408).

Individual 401(k) Plan Loan Requirements

In order to be eligible to take a loan from a Individual 401(k) plan, the Individual 401(k) plan documents must specifically provide for a loan program. The requirements for plan loans are quite technical and out are outlined in Department of Labor (DOL) Regulation 2550.408b-1. IRA Financial Group offers a Individual 401(k) qualified retirement plan loan kit that confirms to the DOL loan regulations and include documents necessary to administer a Individual 401(k) loan program.

To be exempt from the prohibited transaction rules, a Individual 401(k) loan must:

  • be available to all participants of the Individual 401(k) plan on a reasonably equivalent basis;
  • be made in accordance with specific provisions of the loan program contained in the Individual 401(k) plan
  • bear a reasonable interest rate, which based on the loan kit, is considered to be at least the “Prime” rate of interest, which as per the Wall Street Journal is 4.25% as of 6/23/17, and
  • be adequately secured (DOL Reg. 2550.408b-1(a)(1)

The DOL loan regulations require that the 401(k) plan contain specific provisions regarding loans and the following information must generally be made available to participants in written form:

  • The identify of the person or positions authorized to administer the 401(k) loan program;
  • the procedures to be used in applying for loans;
  • the basis upon which loans will be approved or denied;
  • the procedures used to determine a reasonable interest rate for plan loans;
  • the events that will constitute

IRS Plan Loan Requirements

To avoid having a plan loan treated as a taxable distribution to the recipient, the following conditions must be satisfied (IRC Sec. 72(p)(2)).

  • The loan must have level amortization, with payments made at least quarterly.
  • The recipient generally must repay the loan within five years.
  • The loan must not exceed statutory limits.

Repayment Terms

Under IRC Sec. 72(p)(2)(C), the loan amortization schedule must provide for substantially equal payments to be made at least quarterly. Treas. Reg. 1.72(p)-1, Q&A 10, provides for a cure period that allows a loan participant to avoid an immediate deemed distribution following a missed payment. The cure period may not extend beyond the last day of the calendar quarter in which the required payment was due.

Recipients generally must repay loans in full within five years from the date of loan origination (IRC Sec. 72(p)(2)(B)). An exception to the five-year payback rule exists for loans used to purchase a principal residence of the participant. If a participant wants a repayment period longer than five years, employers should obtain a sworn statement from the participant certifying that the loan is to be used to purchase the participant’s principal place of residence (for plan loan purposes, “principal residence” has the same meaning as the term under IRC Sec. 121).

Maximum Loan Amount

Individual 401(k) Loan RulesGenerally, the maximum amount that an employee may borrow at any time is one-half the present value of his vested account balance, not to exceed $50,000. The maximum amount, however, is calculated differently if an individual has more than one outstanding loan from the plan. If the principal loan amount exceeds this standard, the loan amount that exceeds the limit will be deemed a distribution and thus taxable to the participant. In addition, if a loan is treated as a taxable distribution, it is subject to a 10 percent early distribution penalty tax if the employee is under age 59 ½ (IRC Sec. 72(t)). If a plan loan fails to satisfy the loan regulations and is considered a deemed distribution, the employer must use code L to report the distribution on Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc.

EXAMPLE: Bob wants to take a loan from his Individual 401(k) plan, which allows for loans of 50% of a participant’s vested account balance up to $50,000. Because Bob has a vested balance of $40,000, the maximum amount that he can borrow from the account is $20,000.

50% x $40,000 = $20,000

If Bob has a vested balance greater than $100,000, he could only borrow $50,000.

NOTE: Plan permitting, a loan, not to exceed $10,000, that exceeds 50 percent of a participant’s vested balance can be made if the amount exceed the 50 percent is secured with additional collateral (IRC Sec. 72(p)(2)(A)(ii)). (Most plans do not provide this option because of the complexity associated with obtaining the additional collateral.)

Loan Limits For More Than One Outstanding Loan

A Individual 401(k) plan permitting participants to use the loan feature may have more than one outstanding loan from the plan at a time. IRC Sec. 72(p)(2) provides a specific method to determine the maximum loan amount for participants who have outstanding loans. As described earlier, any new loan, when added to the participant’s outstanding loan balance from the plan, cannot exceed a) the lesser of 50 percent of the participant’s vested account balance, or b) the $50,000 maximum limit reduced by the difference between:

  • The participant’s highest outstanding loan balance from the plan at any time during the one year period ending on the day before the new loan is made, and
  • The participant’s outstanding loan balance on the date the new loan is made.

EXAMPLE: The loan program under ABC Inc’s Individual 401(k) Plan provides for maximum loans based on the statutory maximum loan amount provided in IRC Sec. 72(p)(2). On January 1, 2014, Jane had a vested account balance in her Individual 401(k) Plan of $125,000 and took a plan loan of $40,000 to be paid in 20 quarterly installments of $2,491. On January 1, 2017, when her outstanding loan balance is $33,322 and her account balance is $140,000, Jane requests another plan loan.

The difference between the highest outstanding loan balance for the preceding one-year period ($40,000) and the outstanding loan balance on the day the new loan is to be made ($33,322) is $6,678. Jane’s new loan plus her current outstanding loan balance (her maximum outstanding loan limit) cannot exceed a) the lesser of 50% of her vested account balance, or b) $50,000 reduced by this difference. The maximum amount Jane can take for her second loan, therefore, is $10,000.

Step 1: Highest outstanding balance – current outstanding balance = the difference

Step 2: The lesser of a) or b) = maximum outstanding loan amount

  • $140,000 x 50% = $70,000
  • $50,000 – $6,678 = $43,322

Step 3: Maximum outstanding loan amount – current outstanding balance = maximum second loan amount

$43,322 – $33,322 = $10,000

Proper Loan Documentation

Plan loan documents should contain sufficient information to clearly demonstrate that the loan program is intended to satisfy DOL and IRS regulations.

Loan Agreement

The loan program for a plan must be evidenced by a legally enforceable agreement (Treas. Reg. 1.72(p)-1, Q&A 3(b)). The loan documents should explain how the loan program operates, including plan loan requirements and the application process. According to regulations, the loan agreement must clearly identify an amount borrowed, a loan term, and a repayment schedule.

Loan Disclosure

For plans subject to Title I of ERISA, a loan disclosure is required as part of the loan program documentation and becomes part of the plan’s summary plan description (SPD). The loan disclosure describes in plain language the loan program terms and provides the name, address, and phone number of the loan program administrator.

Truth-in-Lending Requirements

Some plans may be subject to the Federal Reserve Board Regulation Z (Truth-in-Lending) rules. If more than 25 loans been taken from a plan in the preceding year or in the current year, or if more than five loans that are secured by dwellings have been taken in the preceding year or current year, the truth-in-lending rules apply and an additional truth-in-lending disclosure is required. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve has amended Regulation Z to exempt retirement plan loans from the truth-in-lending requirements, effective July 1, 2010, if the plan loan complies with the IRS requirements and is issued from vested portions of a participant’s account.

Spousal Waivers

Under the Retirement Equity Act of 1984 (REA), many plans require that a participant receive the consent of her spouse before taking distributions in a form other than a qualified join and survivor annuity (QJSA). Under these plans, a participant must obtain spousal consent before using any portion of her vested account balance as security for a plan loan (Treas. Reg. 1.401(a)-20, Q&A 24). If a previous plan loan is renegotiated, extended, renewed, or otherwise revised, it will be treated as a new loan, thereby requiring spousal consent.

Other Suggested Forms

To facilitate smooth operation of the loan program, the following forms are useful.

  • Loan application form
  • Payment authorization form
  • Loan notice of credit denial

The tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will assist you in completing all required Individual 401(k) plan loan documents.

Defaults and Deemed Distributions

If a loan fails to satisfy the statutory requirements regarding the loan amount, the loan term, and the repayment schedule, the loan is in default and is considered a deemed distribution. In the case of a loan that exceeds the maximum allowable amount, only the excess amount is treated as a deemed distribution (Treas. Reg. 1.72(p)-1, Q&A 4). If a participant fails to make a quarterly installment payment on the loan, the loan is in default and the remaining loan balance is a deemed distribution. Under the loan regulations, the employer may grant a grace period for making a loan payment (by the end of the quarter following the quarter of the missed payment), thus preventing a loan default.

Relief from loan payments also may be granted to participants who are on leave of absence without pay or receiving a rate of pay that is less than the installment payments. In this case, payments may be suspended for a period not longer than one year. To remain in compliance with IRC Sec. 72(p), however, the loan must be repaid within the original time frame provided by the loan agreement.

A deemed distribution will not be treated as a distribution for purposes of the requirements of IRC Sec.1.411(a)-7(d)(5), relating to the determination of a participant’s account balance if a distribution is made at a time when the participant’s vesting percentage may increase.

With the IRA Financial Group, you will be working directly with specially trained tax professionals to help you take a loan from your Individual 401(k) plan as well as administer it yourself without the need to hire a special plan administrator.

To learn more about IRA Financial Group Individual 401(k) loan program and the rules surrounding the solo 401(k) loan, please contact a tax professional at 800-472-0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Aug 24

What Can You Invest in With a Self-Directed Solo 401(k)?

A Solo 401(k) Plan offers one the ability to use his or her retirement funds to make almost any type of investment on their own without requiring the consent of any custodian or person. The IRS and Department of Labor only describe the types of investments that are prohibited, which are very few.

The following are some examples of types of investments that can be made with your Solo 401(k) Plan:

  • Residential or commercial real estate
  • Domestic of foreign real estate
  • Raw land
  • Foreclosure property
  • Mortgages
  • Mortgage pools
  • Deeds
  • Private loans
  • Tax liens
  • Private businesses
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Private placements
  • Precious metals and certain coins
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Foreign currencies

Solo 401(k) Flow Chart

Real Estate

The IRS permits using a Solo 401(k) to purchase real estate or raw land. Since you are the trustee of the 401(k) Plan, making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check from your 401(k) Plan bank account. The advantage of purchasing real estate with your Solo 401(k) Plan is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

Solo 401(k) Investments For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Solo 401(k) Plan for $100,000 and you later sold the property for $300,000, the $200,000 of gain appreciation would generally be tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income tax and in most cases state income tax.

Tax Liens

The IRS permits the purchase of tax liens and tax deeds with a Solo 401(k) Plan. By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase tax-liens or tax deeds, your profits are tax-deferred back into your retirement account until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

More importantly, with a Solo 401(k) Plan, you, as trustee of the 401(k) Plan, will have “checkbook control” over your retirement funds allowing you to make purchases on the spot without custodian consent. In other words, purchasing a tax-lien or tax deed is as easy as writing a check!

Loans & Notes

The IRS permits using 401(k) funds to make loans or purchase notes from third parties. By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to make loans or purchase notes from third-parties, all interest payments received would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

For example, if you used a Solo 401(k) to loan money to a friend, all interest received would flow back into your 401(k) Plan tax-free. Whereas, if you lent your friend money from personal funds (non-retirement funds), the interest received would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.

Private Businesses

With a Solo 401(k) you are permitted to purchase an interest in a privately held business. The business can be established as any entity other than an S Corporation (i.e. limited liability company, C Corporation, partnership, etc.). When investing in a private business using 401(k) funds, it is important to keep in mind the “Disqualified Person” and “Prohibited Transaction” rules under IRC 4975 and the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512. The retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will work with you to develop the most tax-efficient structure for using your Solo 401(k) Plan to invest in a private business.

Precious Metals & Coins

Our Solo 401(k) Plan documents allow for investments into IRS approved precious metals and coins (bullion), as defined in Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. The advantage of using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase precious metals and/or coins is that their values generally keep up with, or exceed, inflation rates better than other investments. In addition, the IRS approved precious metals and/or coin (bullion) should be held at an approved depository or U.S. Bank, as defined under Internal Revenue Code Section 408(a).

Foreign Currencies

The IRS does not prevent the use of 401(k) funds to purchase foreign currencies, including Iraqi Dinars. In fact, our Solo 401(k) Plan documents permit the purchase of foreign currencies. Many believe that foreign currency investments offer liquidity advantages to the stock market as well as significant investment opportunities.

By using a Solo 401(k) to purchase foreign currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, all foreign currency gains generated would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CDs

In addition to non-traditional investments such as real estate, a Solo 401(k) may purchase stock, bonds, mutual funds, and CDs. The advantage of using a Solo 401(k) Plan with “Checkbook Control” is that you are not limited to just making these types of investments. With a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” you can open a stock trading account with any financial institution as well as purchase real estate, buy tax liens, or lend money to a third-party. Your investment opportunities are endless!

For additional information on the advantages of using a Solo 401K Plan to make investments, please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Aug 22

Is a Solo 401k Subjected to the Same UBTI Rules as a Self-Directed IRA?

Yes and No. Like an IRA, the tax advantage of a Solo 401K Plan is that income is tax-free until distributed. In general, an exempt organization is not taxed on its income from an activity that is substantially related to the charitable, educational, or other purpose that is the basis for the organization’s exemption. Such income is exempt even if the activity is a trade or business. However, to prevent tax-exempt entities from competing unfairly with taxable entities, tax-exempt entities are subject to unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) when their income is derived from any trade or business that is unrelated to its tax-exempt status.

What is Unrelated Business Taxable Income?

UBTI is defined as “gross income derived by any organization from any unrelated trade or business regularly carried on by it” reduced by deductions directly connected with the business. The UBTI rules only apply to exempt organizations such as charities, IRAs, and 401(k) Plans. Congress enacted the UBTI rules in the 1950s in order to prevent charities from competing with for-profit businesses since charities do not pay tax giving them an unfair advantage over for- profit businesses. With the enactment of ERISA in 1974, IRAs and 401(k), who are considered tax-exempt parties pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Sections 408 and 401 respectively, became subject to the UBTI rules.

As a result, if an IRA or 401(k) invests in an active business through an LLC or partnership, the income generated by the IRA or 401(k) from the active business investment will be subject to the UBTI rules. In other words, a 401(k) Plan that is a limited partner, member of a LLC, or member of another non-corporate entity will have attributed to it the UBTI of the enterprise as if it were the direct recipient of its share of the entity’s income which would be UBTI had it carried on the business of the entity.   For example, if a Solo 401(k) Plan invests in an LLC that operates an active business such as a restaurant or gas station, the income or gains generated from the investment will generally be subject to the UBTI tax. However, if the Solo 401(k) Plan invested in an active business through a C corporation, there would be no UBTI since the C Corporation acts as a blocker blocking the income from flowing through to the Solo 401(k) Plan. This is why you can invest IRA and 401(k) funds into a public company, such as IBM without triggering the UBTI tax. Remember that if an IRA or 401(k) Plan makes a passive investment, such as rental income, dividends, and royalties, such income would not be subject to the UBTI rules.

Is a Solo 401k Subjected to the Same UBTI Rules as a Self-Directed IRA?UDFI and The Solo 401k Plan

However, unlike a Self-Directed IRA LLC, in the case of a Solo 401(k) Plan, UBTI does not apply to unrelated debt-financed income (UDFI). The UDFI rules apply when a 401(k) Plan uses leverage to acquire property such as real estate. Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 514(c)(9), a 401(k) Qualified Plan is not subject to the UDFI rules and, thus, the UBTI tax if nonrecourse leverage is used to acquire property such as real estate. With the UBTI tax rates at approximately 40% for 2017, the Solo 401(k) Plan offers real estate investors looking to use nonrecourse leverage in a transaction with a tax efficient solution.

Exceptions to the UBTI Rules

There are some important exceptions from UBTI: those exclusions generally exclude the majority of income generating investment activities from the UBTI rules – dividends, interest, annuities, royalties, most rentals from real estate, and gains/losses from the sale of real estate.

What is an Unrelated Business?

For a Solo 401(k), any business regularly carried on or by a partnership or corporation of which it is a member/partner is an unrelated business. For example, the operation of a shoe factory by a pension trusts, the operation of a financial consulting business for high net worth individuals by a university, or the operation of an computer rental business by a hospital would likely be treated as an unrelated business and subject to UBTI.

UBTI & Real Estate Investments

Although there is little formal guidance on UBTI implications for Solo 401(k) Plans investing in real estate, there is a great deal of guidance on UBTI implications for real estate transactions by tax-exempt entities. In general, Gains and losses on dispositions of property (including casualties and other involuntary dispositions) are excluded from UBTI unless the property is inventory or property held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of an unrelated trade or business. This exclusion covers gains and losses on dispositions of property used in an unrelated trade or business, as long as the property was not held for sale to customers. In addition, subject to a number of conditions, if an exempt organization acquires real property or mortgages held by a financial institution in conservatorship or receivership, gains on dispositions of the property are excluded from UBTI, even if the property is held for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business.

The purpose of the provision seems to be to allow an exempt organization to acquire a package of assets of an insolvent financial institution with assurance that parts of the package can be sold off without risk of the re-sales tainting the organization as a dealer and thus subjecting gains on re-sales to the UBIT.

How Do I Avoid UBTI?

In general, if you make passive investments with your Solo 401(k) Plan, such as stocks, mutual funds, precious metals, foreign currency, rental real estate, etc the passive income generated by the investment will generally not be subject to the UBTI tax. Only if your Solo 401(k) Plan will be making investments into an active business, such as a retail store, restaurant, software company using a passthrough entity such as an LLC or partnership will your Solo 401(k) Plan likely be subject to the UBTI tax.

Please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page

Aug 17

Tips and Tricks for Solo 401(k) Alternate Investments

A Solo 401(k) Plan offers one the ability to use his or her retirement funds to make almost any type of investment on their own without requiring the consent of any custodian or person. The IRS and Department of Labor only describe the types of investments that are prohibited, which are very few.

The foundation of the prohibited transaction rules are based on the premise that investments involving a Solo 401(k) Plan and related parties are handled in a way that benefits the retirement account and not the plan participant. The rules prohibit transactions between the plan participant and certain individuals known as “disqualified persons”. The outline for these rules can be found in Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. In general, the definition of a “disqualified person” (Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(e)(2)) extends into a variety of related party scenarios, but generally includes the Solo 401(k) Plan participant, any ancestors or lineal descendants of the plan participant, and entities in which the plan participant holds a controlling equity or management interest.

Types of Solo 401(k) Alternate Investments:

  • Residential or commercial real estate
  • Domestic of foreign real estate
  • Raw land
  • Foreclosure property
  • Mortgages
  • Mortgage pools
  • Deeds
  • Private loans
  • Tax liens
  • Private businesses
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Limited Liability Partnerships
  • Private placements
  • Precious metals and certain coins
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
  • Foreign currencies

Real Estate

The IRS permits using a Solo 401(k) to purchase real estate or raw land. Since you are the trustee of the 401(k) Plan, making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check from your 401(k) Plan bank account. The advantage of purchasing real estate with your Solo 401(k) Plan is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the plan participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

Solo 401(k) Alternate Investments For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Solo 401(k) Plan for $100,000 and you later sold the property for $300,000, the $200,000 of gain appreciation would generally be tax-deferred. Whereas, if you purchased the property using personal funds (non-retirement funds), the gain would be subject to federal income tax and in most cases state income tax.

Helpful Tips :

  • The deposit and purchase price for the real estate property should be paid using Solo 401(k) Plan funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used
  • All expenses, repairs, taxes incurred in connection with the Solo 401(k) Plan real estate investment should be paid using retirement funds – no personal funds should be used
  • If additional funds are required for improvements or other matters involving the real estate investments, all funds should come from the Solo 401(k) Plan or from a non “disqualified person”
  • If financing is needed for a real estate transaction, only nonrecourse financing should be used. A nonrecourse loan is a loan that is not personally guaranteed and whereby the lender’s only recourse is against the property and not against the borrower.
  • With a Solo 401(k) Plan the use of a nonrecourse loan would not be subject to any tax pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 514, which is not the case with an IRA. This provides a very exciting investment opportunity.
  • No services should be performed by the Solo 401(k) Plan participant or “disqualified person” in connection with the real estate investment. In general, other then typical trustee type of services (necessary and required tasks in connection with the maintenance of the plan), no active services should be performed by the plan participant or a “disqualified person” with respect to the real estate transaction.
  • Title of the real estate purchased should be in the name of the trustee for the benefit of the plan. For example, if Joe Smith is the trustee of ABC 401K Trust, title to real estate purchased by Joe’s plan would be as follows: Joe Smith as Trustee of the ABC 401K Trust
  • Keep good records of income and expenses generated by the real estate investment
  • All income, gains or losses from a Solo 401(k) Plan real estate investment should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan
  • Make sure you perform adequate diligence on the property you will be purchasing especially if it is in a state you do not live in
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any self-dealing real estate transaction which would involve buying or selling real estate that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”

Tax Liens

The IRS permits the purchase of tax liens and tax deeds with a Solo 401(k) Plan. By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase tax-liens or tax deeds, your profits are tax-deferred back into your retirement account until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

More importantly, with a Solo 401(k) Plan, you, as trustee of the 401(k) Plan, will have “checkbook control” over your retirement funds allowing you to make purchases on the spot without custodian consent. In other words, purchasing a tax-lien or tax deed is as easy as writing a check!

Helpful Tips :

  • The deposit and purchase price for the tax lien should be paid using Solo 401(k) Plan funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used
  • A check from the Solo 401(k) Plan account should be taking to auction or used for the tax lien purchase – no personal check or cash should be used
  • No credit card should be applied for in the name of the Solo 401(k) Plan as that would violate the IRS prohibited transaction rules. A pure debit card is allowable
  • All income, gains or losses from tax lien investments should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan

Loans & Notes

The IRS permits using 401(k) funds to make loans or purchase notes from third parties. By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to make loans or purchase notes from third-parties, all interest payments received would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

For example, if you used a Solo 401(k) to loan money to a friend, all interest received would flow back into your 401(k) Plan tax-free. Whereas, if you lent your friend money from personal funds (non-retirement funds), the interest received would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.

Helpful Tips :

  • The loan or note amount should be paid using Solo 401(k) Plan funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used in the loan transaction
  • The loan or note should not involve a “disqualified person” directly or indirectly
  • The loan or note should have a stated interest rate of at least Prime as per the Wall Street Journal (4.25% as of 6/23/17)
  • All interest and principal associated with the loan or note should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan
  • It is good practice to have the loan terms documented in a promissory note or loan agreement
  • If you will be acting as the lender, consider securing the loan with an interest or lien in an asset owned by the borrower
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any self-dealing loan transaction which would involve a loan or note that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”

Private Businesses

With a Solo 401(k) you are permitted to purchase an interest in a privately held business. The business to be purchased can be any entity other than an S Corporation (i.e. limited liability company, C Corporation, partnership, etc.). When investing in a private business using 401(k) funds, it is important to keep in mind the “Disqualified Person” and “Prohibited Transaction” rules under IRC 4975 and the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512.

Helpful Tips :

  • The deposit and purchase price for the business should be paid using Solo 401(k) Plan funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • No personal funds or funds from a “disqualified person” should be used to purchase the business
  • The purchase of the stock or assets of the business should not directly or indirectly benefit the plan participant personally or any “disqualified person”
  • The purchase of a business operated via an LLC or partnership will potentially trigger the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512 and a corresponding tax of approximately 40% for 2017 would be applied
  • Stock of an S Corporation should not be purchased with retirement funds as the S corporation rules only allow individuals to be S Corporation shareholders
  • The purchase of stock of a C Corporation would not trigger the application of the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512
  • All income, gains or losses from the purchased business should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan
  • The plan participant or any “disqualified person” should not have any ownership in the business being purchased and should not directly or indirectly personally benefit from the acquisition
  • Make sure to perform adequate diligence on the business you will be purchasing or investing in especially if you will be buying the stock/interests and not the assets
  • Make sure you will not be engaging in any business acquisition transaction which would involve buying or selling a business that will personally benefit you or a “disqualified person”

Precious Metals & Coins

Our Solo 401(k) Plan documents allow for investments into precious metals and certain coins. The advantage of using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase precious metals and/or coins is that their values generally keep up with, or exceed, inflation rates better than other investments. In addition, IRS approved metals or coins, as defined under Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m) should be held an an approved depository or U.S. Bank.

Helpful Tips:

  • Only IRS approved metals or coins (bullion) may be purchases as per Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m)
  • The IRS approved precious metals or coins being purchased by the plan should be paid using Solo 401(k) plan funds or funds from a non-disqualified third-party
  • With respect to IRS approved precious metals or coins (bullion), the metals or coins should not be held in the personal possession of any individual
  • With respect to the IRS approved precious metals or coins outlined in Internal Revenue Code Section 408(m), the bullion must be held in the “physical possession” of a U.S. depository or at a U.S. bank
  • An affidavit signed by the trustee of the plan confirming that the IRS approved precious metals or coins are being purchased and being held in the sole interest of the retirement account is good practice
  • All income, gains or losses from the purchased precious metals or coins should be allocated to the Solo 401(k) Plan
  • IRS approved precious metals or coins should not be held at a bank outside the United States
  • Perform adequate diligence on the dealer with which you will be transacting with for the purchase of IRS approved metals or coins

Foreign Currencies

The IRS does not prevent the use of 401(k) funds to purchase foreign currencies, including Iraqi Dinars. In fact, our Solo 401(k) Plan documents permit the purchase of foreign currencies. Many believe that foreign currency investments offer liquidity advantages to the stock market as well as significant investment opportunities.

By using a Solo 401(k) to purchase foreign currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, all foreign currency gains generated would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken (pre-tax 401(k) distributions are not required until the Plan Participant turns 70 1/2). In the case of a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free.

Helpful Tips :

  • Make sure you have a solid background in trading currencies – high volatile and significant risk
  • If you will be investing with a third-party, perform adequate diligence on the individual and make sure the individual has the knowledge to trade foreign currencies and all his/her securities licenses are in good standing.
  • Beware of leverage – it is allowable but it would trigger the application of the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512 and thereby a corresponding tax
  • No personal guarantee of any leverage or loan obligation is permitted
  • All income, gains or losses from the foreign currency transactions should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan

Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CDs

In addition to non-traditional investments such as real estate, a Solo 401(k) may purchase stock, bonds, mutual funds, and CDs. The advantage of using a self-directed Solo 401(k) Plan is that you are not limited to just making these types of investments. With a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” you can open a stock trading account with any financial institution as well as purchase real estate, buy tax liens, or lend money to a third-party. Your investment opportunities are endless! When purchasing stocks or securities with a Solo 401(k) Plan, all income and gains, including dividends, would flow back to the plan without tax. With a Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, all gains are tax-free. Whereas, if you purchased stocks with personal funds, all income and gains would be subject to federal and in most cases state income tax.

Helpful Tips :

  • If you will be investing with a third-party, perform adequate diligence on the individual and make sure the individual has the knowledge to trade stocks or securities and all his/her securities licenses are in good standing.
  • Beware of promoters who are promising high returns and that do not work at reputable financial institutions – high likelihood of fraud
  • Beware of leverage – it is allowable but it would trigger the application of the Unrelated Business Taxable Income rules under IRC 512 and thereby a corresponding tax
  • No personal guarantee of any leverage or loan obligation is permitted
  • Open up a brokerage account in the name of the Solo 401(k) Plan – not a personal account
  • All income, gains or losses from the stock investments should be allocated to the Solo 401(K) Plan

If you have any questions about whether your specific Solo 401(k) Plan transaction would potentially be in violation of IRS rules, please contact a tax professional at the IRA Financial Group at 800-472-0646.

Aug 14

Why You Should Use a Tax Attorney to Establish a Solo 401(k)

Sales Representatives Who Are Not Trained Tax Attorneys/CPAs Should Not Be Establishing Solo 401(k) Plans

There are several companies on the internet that advertise themselves to be Solo 401(k) Plan providers and experts. However, in most cases, the people that would be involved in drafting your Solo 401(k) Plan documents, as well as advising you, are not tax attorneys or even tax professionals.  Many times, a salesperson or representative of a Solo 401(k) Plan provider will offer you tax or ERISA guidance with respect to a 401(k) Plan feature or an investment, while lacking the adequate knowledge or expertise to do so.  They may even tell you that you don’t need a tax attorney to help you establish the plan.  As a result, we have had to, on many occasions, help individuals who worked with a number of these companies who found themselves in some IRS trouble because they have made improper plan contributions or invested in a prohibited transaction as a result of being mislead by a plan provider representative that was not qualified to provide proper tax advice regarding the unique features of the Solo 401(k). Working directly with a 401(k) tax professional that has been specifically trained on the special tax aspects of the Solo 401(k) to establish and maintain your Solo 401(k) Plan is the only way you can guarantee your plan will remain in full IRS compliance and that you will not be engaging in any plan activities not approved by the plan or the IRS.

Why You Should Use a Tax Attorney to Establish a Solo 401(k)Only Trained Tax Attorneys/CPAs Can Properly Advise You on the Tax Aspects of a Solo 401(k) Plan

Working with trained tax & ERISA attorneys when looking for a Solo 401(k) Plan provider is crucial in ensuring that your plan will be properly setup, as well as remain in full IRS compliance. The Solo 401(k) Plan is based on the rules found in the Internal Revenue Code, which can be quite complicated to the non-tax attorney. Therefore, it is strongly advisable to work with a Solo 401(k) Plan provider like the IRA Financial Group or Bergman Law Group to establish your IRS approved Solo 401(k) Plan. Relying on the advice of a document processor or no-tax professional when it comes to establishing and maintaining your retirement plan puts your retirement future at great risk. Too many times, plan participants have unknowingly violated IRS rules when operating their Solo 401(k) Plan because a plan provider representative that was not qualified to provide relevant tax advice gave them inaccurate and incomplete tax advice or drafted the plan documents incorrectly. Make sure this does not happen to you – work only with qualified 401(k) tax & ERISA professionals who have been specifically trained on the special tax aspects of the Solo 401(k) to establish and maintain your Solo 401(k) Plan.

Don’t Trust an Internet Company Who States You Don’t Need to Work With Trained Tax Attorneys to Establish a Solo 401(k) Plan

Just because your Solo 401(k) has been established does not mean that you no longer need any ongoing tax and ERISA support.  Most Solo 401(k) Plan providers are headed for the exit once the plan has been established.  As you begin administering your Solo 401(k), whether it involves making employee deferral or profit sharing contributions, making a non-traditional investment, taking a plan loan, or considering a Roth conversion, you will want to be able to have the ability to consult with specialized trained tax attorneys and 401(k) Plan tax professionals and get specialized tax and ERISA advice based on your particular retirement or tax question.  IRA Financial Group feels strongly that the ongoing maintenance of the Solo 401(k) is crucial in making sure your Solo 401(k) remains in IRS compliance and the IRS respects all your plan contributions and investment gains. Working directly with tax & ERISA trained attorneys and our 401(k) tax professionals that have been specifically trained on the special tax aspects of the Solo 401(k) will help keep your Solo 401(k) in full IRS compliance.

Why Work with The IRA Financial Group?

The IRA Financial Group was founded by a group of top law firm tax and ERISA lawyers who have worked at some of the largest law firms in the United States, such as White & Case LLP, Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, and Thelen LLP. Over the years, we have helped thousands of clients establish self-directed Solo 401(k) Plans. With our work experience at some of the largest law firms in the country, our retirement tax professionals’ tax and ERISA knowledge in this area is unmatched.

To learn more about the advantages of using a Solo 401(k) Plan, please contact one of our Solo 401(k) Plan experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

IRA Financial Group Facebook pageIRA Financial Group Twitter pageamazon-logoIRA Financial Group Tumblr pageIRA Financial Group Pinterest page