Sep 30

Using Your 401(k) to Buy a Business – How it Works

The legality of using retirement funds to purchase employer corporate stock is firmly established in the Internal Revenue Code and under ERISA law. The IRA Financial Group’s in-house retirement tax professionals have spent the last two years developing an IRS and ERISA compliant structure for using retirement funds to acquire or invest in a business tax-free! Because the IRS has stressed the importance of compliance when using retirement funds to purchase a business, it is crucial to work with a company that is operated by a team of in-house tax and ERISA professionals who have worked at some of the largest law firms in the United States, including White & Case LLP and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP to ensure the structure satisfies IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. The retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group have developed a process that ensures speed and compliance, by using standardized procedures that work via phone, e-mail, fax, and mail. Your funds will be ready for investment into your new or existing business within 14-21 days.

Step 1 – Establishment of New Corporation

IRA Financial Group’s in-house tax and ERISA professionals will establish a corporation and ensure that the incorporation process is completed accurately in accordance with state law. Our in-house retirement tax professionals have significant experience with the incorporation process in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Your corporation will be incorporated in the State where you will conduct business or in multiple states if the business will be conducted in more than one state. The IRA Financial Group’s retirement tax professionals will assist you in satisfying all internal corporate formalities, such as establishing a board of directors, appointing officers, and completing the corporate resolution and minutes. Upon the incorporation of the entity, our in-house retirement tax professionals will acquire an Employer Tax ID Number with the IRS for your new corporation.

Step 2 – New Corporation Adopts 401(k) Plan

The IRA Financial Group’s in-house ERISA professionals will establish an IRS approved 401(k) Plan for your new corporation. Plan documents will be drafted so that the new corporation will be the sponsor of the new 401(k) Plan. The Plan documents will appoint the new business owner as the trustee of the plan and will be customized based on the financial goals of you and the business. The Plan will be specifically drafted to allow for investment in your new corporation.

Step 3 – Rollover/Transfer of Funds to your New Corporation

The IRA Financial group’s in-house ERISA professionals will guide you through the process of opening a bank account for your new 401(k) Plan (the account can be opened at any local bank, credit union, or financial institution) as well as helping you complete the necessary transfer/rollover documents to transfer your retirement funds from your previous employer or IRA to your company’s new 401(k) Plan tax-free. Our in-house ERISA professionals will guide you through the entire rollover/transfer process so your retirement funds will be transferred to your new 401(k) Plan in an expedited and tax-free manner.

Step 4 – 401(k) Plan Invests in the new Corporation

The IRA Financial Group’s in-house retirement tax professionals will draft a customized stock purchase agreement detailing the 401(k) Plan’s purchase of new company stock. The IRA Financial Group will coordinate with the selected independent business appraisal to assure that the stock purchase agreement is in compliance with IRS and ERISA rules. Once the 401(k) Plan has purchased stock in the new corporation, the corporation will have the funds to purchase new business assets or help grow the business.

Step 5 – Compliance with IRS and ERISA Rules

Once your retirement funds have been invested in your new business, the retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will continue to work with you to ensure that the structure remains compliant with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. In the case of a corporation with employees, the IRA Financial Group will work with a third-party administrator to ensure that the Plan remains compliant so that the structure continues to meet IRS and ERISA rules and requirements.

Work Directly with our on-site tax and ERISA professionals!

Each client of the IRA Financial Group is assigned an individual retirement tax professional who will customize a structure that satisfies his or her financial and retirement needs while ensuring the structure is developed in full IRS & ERISA compliance!

We have developed a process that ensures speed and compliance, by using standardized procedures that work via phone, e-mail, fax, and mail. Your funds will be ready for investment into your new or existing business within 14-21 days.

Contact us today at 800-472-0646 to learn more about how you can use your retirement funds to start a new business or grow an existing business tax-free, in full IRS compliance, and without penalties!

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Sep 29

Using a Solo 401(k) Plan, what type of transactions may trigger the UBTI tax?

In general, most passive investments that your Solo 401(k) Plan might invest in are exempt from UBTI. Some examples of exempt type of income include: interest from loans, dividends, annuities, royalties, most rentals from real estate, and gains/losses from the sale of real estate.

When an exempt organization such as an 401(k) Plan undertakes any development activities in connection with selling real estate, beyond passively placing the property for sale either directly or through a broker, the issue arises under Internal Revenue Code 512(b)(5)(A) whether the real estate is “property held primarily for sale to customers on the ordinary course of the trade or business.” An organization that engages in the sale of property to customers in the ordinary course of the trade or business is characterized as acting as a “dealer”.

Fundamental to considering whether an exempt organization (i.e. a 401(k) Plan) is a “dealer” of real property is whether the property itself is held “primarily” for resale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business. In Malat v. Riddell, 393 U.S. 569 (1966), the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the meaning of the phrase “held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of trade or business” under Internal Revenue Code Section 1221(1). The IRS has often applied the principles derived under Internal Revenue Code Section 1221 to rulings interpreting the language of Internal Revenue Code Section 512(b)(5). The Court interpreted the word “primarily” to mean “of first importance” or “principally.” By this standard, ordinary income would not result unless a sales purpose is dominant. Both the courts and the IRS concluded that a taxpayer may make “reasonable expenditures and efforts” (such as subdividing land, construction of streets, the provision of drainage, and furnishing of access to such a necessity as water, as part of the “liquidation” of an investment asset without being treated as engaged in a trade or business.

The UBTI generally applies to the taxable income of “any unrelated trade or business…regularly carried on” by an organization subject to the tax. The regulations separately treat three aspects of the quoted words—“trade or business,” “regularly carried on,” and “unrelated.”

Trade or Business: In defining “unrelated trade or business,” the regulations start with the concept of “trade or business” as used by Internal Revenue Code Section 162, which allows deductions for expenses paid or incurred “in carrying on any trade or business.” Although Internal Revenue Code Section 162 is a natural starting point, the case law under that provision does little to clarify the issues. Because expenses incurred by individuals in profit-oriented activities not amounting to a trade or business are deductible under Internal Revenue Code Section 212 , it is rarely necessary to decide whether an activity conducted for profit is a trade or business. The few cases on the issue under Internal Revenue Code Section 162 generally limit the term “trade or business” to profit-oriented endeavors involving regular activity by the taxpayer.

Regularly Carried On: The UBIT only applies to income of an unrelated trade or business that is “regularly carried on” by an organization (Solo 401(k) Plan investment). Whether a trade or business is regularly carried on is determined in light of the underlying objective to reach activities competitive with taxable businesses. The requirement thus is met by activities that “manifest a frequency and continuity, and are pursued in a manner generally similar to comparable commercial activities of nonexempt organizations.” Short-term activities are exempted if comparable commercial activities of private enterprises are usually conducted on a year-round basis (e.g., a sandwich stand operated by an exempt organization at a state fair), but a seasonal activity is considered regularly carried on if its commercial counterparts also operate seasonally (e.g., a horse racing track). Intermittent activities are similarly compared with their commercial rivals and are ordinarily exempt if conducted without the promotional efforts typical of commercial endeavors. Moreover, if an enterprise is conducted primarily for beneficiaries of an organization’s exempt activities (e.g., a student bookstore), casual sales to outsiders are ordinarily not a “regular” trade or business.

Before it can be determined whether an activity is seasonal or intermittent, the relevant activity must be identified and quantified, a step that is often troublesome. The type of income that generally could subject a Solo 401K Plan to UBTI is income generated from the following sources:

  • Business income generated via a passthrough entity, such as an LLC or partnership
  • Income earned from a convenient store operated through a passthrough entity
  • Income earned through an active business owned by an LLC in which the IRA is an investor
  • Income from a real estate investment held through a passthrough entity that is treated as a business (inventory) instead of as an investment

Examples could include:

  • In Brown v. Comr, 143 F.2d 468 (5th Cir. 1944), the exempt taxpayer owned 500 acres of unimproved land used for grazing purposes within its tax-exempt mission. Taxpayer decided to sell the land and listed it with a real estate broker. The exempt organization instructed the broker to subdivide the land into lots and develop it for sale. The broker had the land plotted and laid into subdivisions with several lots. Streets were cleared, graded and shelled; storm sewers were put in at street intersections; gas and electric lines were constructed; and a water well was dug. Each year 20 to 30 properties were sold. The court held that the taxpayer was holding lots for sale to customers in the regular course of business. The court identified the sole question for its determination as whether the taxpayer was in the business of subdividing real estate. The fact that the taxpayer did not buy additional land did not prevent the court from finding that the sales activities resulted in an active trade or business.
  • In Farley v. Comr., 7 T.C. 198 (1946), the taxpayer sold 25 lots out of a tract of land previously used in his nursery business but now more desirable as residential property. Because the taxpayer made no active efforts to sell and did not develop the property, the court described the sale as “in the nature of the gradual and passive liquidation of an asset.” Therefore, the income derived from the sales represented capital gains income, rather than ordinary income from the regular course of business as in the Brown case.
  • Dispositions of several thousand acres of land by a school over a period of twenty-five years does not constitute sale of land held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of business and thus gains are excludable under Internal Revenue Code Section 512(b)(5) (Priv. Ltr. Rul. 9619069 (Feb. 13, 1996)).
  • Developing or subdividing land and selling a large number of homes or tracts of land from that development in a given period.
  • Buying a property/home rehabbing it and then selling it immediately thereafter when this was your sole intent (note: The activity must manifest a frequency and continuity, and are pursued in a manner generally similar to comparable commercial activities of nonexempt organizations). It is unclear whether the purchase and sale of one or two homes in a given year that were held for investment purposes would trigger UBTI.

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

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Sep 26

Some Roth 401k FAQs

Are the contribution rules for a Roth 401(k) the same as a Roth IRA?

The Roth subaccount of the Solo 401K Plan is a bit of a hybrid. Although it is technically a type of 401(k) plan, it has some of the features of a Roth IRA. Only after-tax salary deferral contributions may be deposited in the Roth 401(k) subaccount. No employer contributions and no pretax employee contributions are permitted. Therefore the entire account will contain only after-tax contributions from your salary plus pretax earnings on those contributions. Because the Roth 401(k) is actually just part of a regular 401(k) plan, most of the rules that apply to a regular 401(k) plan also apply to a Roth 401(k) plan, including the contribution limits.

Can a Roth 401(k) Plan exist on its own?

No. A Roth 401(k) Plan is simply an option that can be added to a traditional 401(k) Plan. A Roth 401(k) Plan cannot exist on its own.

Are you taking advantage of the Roth 401(k)?When are Roth 401(k) distributions taxable?

Generally, distributions from a designated Roth account are excluded from gross income if they are (1) made after the employee attains age 59 1/2 , (2) “attributable to” the employee being “disabled,” or (3) made to the employee’s beneficiary or estate after the employee’s death. However, the exclusion is denied if the distribution occurs within five years after the employee’s first designated Roth contribution to the account from which the distribution is received or, if the account contains a rollover from another designated Roth account, to the other account. Other distributions from a designated Roth account are excluded from gross income under Internal Revenue Code 72 only to the extent they consist of designated Roth contributions and are taxable to the extent they consist of trust earnings credited to the account.

Can I convert a 401(k) Plan to a Roth 401(k) Plan?

Yes. The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, signed by President Obama contained a little-known provision, which went to affect on Sept. 27, 2010, allowing for the conversion of a traditional 401(k) or 403(b) account to a Roth in the same plan if their employer offers one. However, the 401(k) Plan participant (employee) must pay income tax on the amount converted. Once the funds have been converted to the Roth 401(k) plan sub-account, as long as the plan participant is above the age of 59/1/2 and the Roth 401(k) account has been opened at least 5 years, all income and gains from the Roth 401(k) plan investment would be tax-free.

How are distributions from Roth 401(k) Plan taxed?

All distributions from Roth 401(k) plans are either qualified distributions or non-qualified distributions. If the distribution is a qualified distribution, the early distribution tax does not apply. The early distribution tax applies only to those distributions that are subject to income tax. Because all qualified distributions from Roth 401(k) Plans are tax free, they are also exempt from the early distribution tax as well.

A “ qualified distribution” from a Roth IRA is excluded from gross income. To be qualified, a distribution must satisfy both of the following requirements:

  • It must not occur before the fifth taxable year following the year for which a Roth IRA contribution was first made by the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse.
  • It must be made after the account owner reaches age 59 1/2 or becomes disabled, be made to the owner’s beneficiary or estate after the owner’s death, or be a “qualified special purpose distribution.”

Am I required to take Distributions from my Roth 401(k) during my lifetime?

The required distribution rules that force you to begin taking money out of your retirement plans and Traditional IRAs during your lifetime also apply to Roth 401(k) Plans. The required distribution rules also force your beneficiaries to take distributions from the account after your death.

Note: the rules for a Roth 401(k) Plan are different from those for a Roth IRA. If you have a Roth 401(k) plan, you must begin taking distributions from the account when you reach age 70 and 1/2, or after you retire, if that is later.

How should a Solo 401(k) Plan Trustee administer a 401(k) Plan with Roth Contributions?

A trustee of a Solo 401(k) Plan with a qualified Roth contribution program must establish separate accounts including only designated Roth contributions and “earnings properly allocable to the contributions,” and the plan administrator must maintain separate records for these accounts. Since distributions from accounts containing elective deferrals are included in distributees’ gross income, while distributions from accounts containing designated Roth contributions are generally excluded from gross income, an employee’s designated Roth contributions cannot be commingled with elective deferrals. Forfeitures may not be allocated to Roth accounts.

For more questions about the Roth Solo 401(k) Plan, please contact a 401(k) Expert from the IRA Financial Group @ 800.472.0646!

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Sep 25

IRA Financial Group Clients Invested Over $2.6 Billion Since 2010 in Real Estate Helping to Spur U.S. Real Estate Market

Over the last five years IRA Financial Group’s self-directed IRA and Solo 401(k) Plan investors have taken advantage of attractive real estate opportunities

IRA Financial Group, the leading provider of self-directed IRA LLC & Solo 401(k) plan solutions, announces that since 2010 its self-directed and solo 401(k) plan clients have invested over $2.6 billion in real estate. “By using cash in their retirement funds, our clients have has great success in finding and closing on real estate transactions as well as taken advantage of the tax benefits of owning real estate in a retirement account, “ stated Adam Bergman, a tax partner with the IRA Financial Group. “We are proud that our self-directed IRA and Solo 401(k) plan clients have had a significant impact on the growth in the U.S. real estate markets,” stated Mr. Bergman.

The primary advantage of using a self directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) Plan to make investments is that the income and gains from the retirement account investment are tax-deferred or tax-free in the case of a Roth IRA or Roth Solo 401(k) Plan. In addition, with a self-directed IRA or Solo 401(k) plan, investments can be made by simply writing a check.

IRA Financial Group Clients Invested Over $2.6 Billion Since 2010 in Real Estate Helping to Spur U.S. Real Estate MarketWith IRA Financial Group’s self directed IRA LLC & Solo 401(k) Plan solutions, traditional IRA or Roth IRA funds can be used to buy real estate throughout the United States in a tax-deferred account by simply writing a check. “Even with real estate prices increasing, our clients have been able to find attractive real estate opportunities for their retirement account, “ stated Susan Glass, a tax specialist with the IRA Financial Group. “Of the over $2.6 billion that our self-directed retirement clients have invested in the last five years, the majority of the clients have seen their investments grow in value, something we are quite proud of, “ stated Mr. Bergman.

According to Mr. Bergman, “ IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed IRA and Solo 401(k) Plan for real estate investors, also called a real estate IRA with checkbook control or a Self-Directed real estate 401(k) Plan, is an IRS approved structure that allows one to use their retirement funds to make real estate and other investments tax-free and without custodian consent. A Self-Directed IRA and Solo 401(k) Plan provides the retirement account holder with greater control over his or her retirement assets allowing the individual to make traditional as well as non-traditional investments, such as real estate tax-deferred and with much lower annual fees. “By using a “checkbook control” self-directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) Plan our clients have been able to make hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate purchases without incurring high IRA account fees, “ stated Mr. Bergman.

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.

IRA Financial Group is the market’s leading “checkbook control” Self Directed IRA and Solo 401(k) Plan provider. IRA Financial Group has helped thousands of clients take back control over their retirement funds while gaining the ability to invest in almost any type of investment, including real estate without custodian consent.

To learn more about the IRA Financial Group please visit our website at http://www.irafinancialgroup.com or call 800-472-0646.

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Sep 23

How to Use a Solo 401k Loan to Make an Investment

When it comes to using retirement funds, such as a Solo 401K Plan, to make investments, the question arises whether a Solo 401K Plan can utilize a loan as part of the transaction.

The IRS has always allowed a Solo 401K Plan to make traditional as well as non-traditional investments such as real estate. However, the prohibited transaction rules under Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 restrict a Solo 401(k) Plan participant from engaging in certain transactions – prohibited transactions. Under IRC 4975, one of the categories of prohibited transactions involve a disqualified person personally guaranteeing a loan made to a Solo 401K Plan. A Solo 401K plan participant is treated as a disqualified person pursuant to IRC 4975. As a result, a Solo 401K, also known as an Individual 401K or Self Directed 401K Plan, cannot use a recourse loan to purchase property owned by a Plan because a disqualified person (Solo 401K Plan participant) cannot personally guarantee a loan. However, the IRS does allow for the 401K to use a nonrecourse loan to purchase real estate. A nonrecourse loan is a loan that does not require a personal guarantee on the part of the Solo 401K plan participant. In other words, a loan that would limit a lender’s (bank) ability to go after an individual personally for non-payment of the loan. Instead, the lender’s sole remedy would be to look to the underlying property as satisfaction of the loan. Of course, this type of loan is more difficult to acquire and can be more expensive for a borrower.

In general, Internal Revenue Code Section 514(c)(9) permits a few types of exempt organizations to make debt-financed investments in real property without becoming taxable under Code Section 514. Note – the exemption only applies to real estate and not to other types of nonrecourse financing, such as margin on stock.

Using a Loan With a Solo 401K Plan to Make an InvestmentThe Section 514 exemption applies to any “qualified organization,” a term that includes (1) schools, colleges, universities, and their “affiliated support organizations,” (2) qualified pension, profit sharing, and stock bonus trusts, and (3) title holding companies exempt under § 501(c)(25). In general, indebtedness incurred by a qualified organization in acquiring or improving real property is not acquisition indebtedness if the transaction navigates through a long list of prohibitions. In other words, a Solo 401K Plan can use nonrecourse leverage when purchasing real property with Plan assets and not be subject to the Unrelated Debt-Financed Income rules, which in-turn trigger an Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI or UBIT) tax (approximately 35%). Note – only nonrecourse leverage can be used when acquiring property by a 401K or Solo 401K Plan since, a disqualified person (401(k) plan participant or trustee) cannot personally guarantee the loan (recourse loan) since that would violate the prohibited transaction rules pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975. It is important to remember that this exemption would not apply to an IRA since an IRA is not a qualified pension, profit sharing, and stock bonus trusts.

To satisfy the exemption under Internal Revenue Code Section 514, the price paid by the organization for the property or improvement must be fixed when the property is acquired or the improvement is completed, neither the amount nor the due date of any payment under the indebtedness can be contingent on the revenue, income, or profits from the property, and the property may not be leased to the person who sold the property to the organization or to any person related to the seller within the meaning of Code Section 267(b) or Code Section 707(b). If the organization is a qualified pension, profit sharing, or stock bonus trust, the property may not be purchased from or leased to the employer of any of the employees covered by the trust or any one of several persons related to the employer. Financing for the property may not be received from the person who sold the property to the organization, a person related to the seller within the meaning of Code Section 267(b) or Code Section 707(b), or, if the organization is a qualified employee trust, an employer or related person who is disqualified from being seller or lessee under the rule described in the preceding sentence. The property must usually be owned directly by the qualified organization, except that an interest in a partnership or other pass-through entity qualifies if all of the partners or other owners are qualified organizations and each partner or other owner is allocated the same distributive share of every item of partnership income, deduction, and credit.

When § 514(c)(9) was enacted in 1980, it applied only to qualified pension, profit sharing, and stock bonus plans, but its scope was broadened in 1984 to include schools, colleges, and universities.

Many people ask why this exemption only applies to 401K Plans and not IRAs. The only reason given in the committee reports for the exemption is that some people wanted it: “Trustees of these plans are desirous of investing in real estate for diversification and to offset inflation. Debt-financing is common in real estate investments.”  The provision was originally limited to qualified employee trusts on the theory that the income would eventually be taxed to employees and their beneficiaries.

To learn more about the rules surrounding using a loan with a Solo 401K Plan to make an investment please contact a Solo 401K Expert at 800-472-0646.

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Sep 22

Solo 401k – Best Kept Secret

Here’s an interesting read from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette explaining why the Solo 401(k) is one of the best kept secrets:

After graduating in May from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, 28-year-old Stephen Morse established his own financial advising firm in Scott.

Being his own boss, Mr. Morse has no access to the traditional company 401(k) plans offered by many corporations to their employees, but he plans to take advantage of a little-known retirement saving option for self-employed individuals called a Solo 401(k).

“This allows me to benefit from the same tax-deferred growth and tax-deductible contributions as anyone with access to a corporate 401(k) program,” Mr. Morse said. “I plan to max out my contributions every year.”

Driven by economic necessity or a desire to take more control of their own careers, more people are opting to work for themselves as freelancers and independent contractors.

The trend shows no signs of slowing down, with asset rental and task-sharing websites like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit further opening the floodgates to new ways of working.

But self-employed individuals often face challenges saving for retirement without the structure of a group retirement program like a company 401(k).

“The Solo 401(k) is one of the best-kept secrets available to self-employed professionals,” said Scott Puritz, co-founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based retirement investment advisory firm Rebalance IRA. “It’s not talked about enough and it’s relatively new. But for some people, this is the best solution that really evens the retirement playing field for everyone who doesn’t work for a major corporation.”

As of March, there was $4.3 trillion total assets invested in 401(k) plans, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Investment Company Institute. But data on how many people are using Solo 401(k) plans are not available.

Solo 401(k) plans were created in 2001 by an act of Congress. They can be used by self-employed individuals who have no full-time employees and by people who are the sole owner-employee of a corporation. The spouse of the owner also is eligible.

Owners of Solo 401(k) plans have all the options available to them that are offered to company participants, such as tax-deferred growth and the ability to borrow up to $50,000 from the account.

By making contributions in the role of employee and employer, those with Solo 401(k) plans can end up with more than they would have with other retirement investment vehicles available to small business owners.

“Someone with a modest income can put away a lot more money with a Solo 401(k),” said Regi Armstrong, president of Armstrong Wealth Management Group in Florence, S.C.

Mr. Armstrong said a business owner earning $50,000 a year can only contribute 20 percent of his income, or $10,000 in this example, a year to an SEP-IRA, or Simplified Employee Pension. The same business owner would be limited to a $13,500 contribution to a Simple IRA based on 2014 contribution limits.

But he could contribute a maximum $27,500 to a Solo 401(k).

The rules allow the business owner to contribute up to $17,500 as an employee, and another $10,000 for employer contributions as the owner of the company.

Business owners can set up the accounts at any discount brokerage, such as TD Ameritrade or Scottrade. They can then turn the account over to a financial adviser of their choosing to manage and administer.

Nathan Boxx, an associate financial consultant at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Green Tree, said his company has been managing Solo 401(k) plans for small business clients for several years. The clients who use them include freelancers, consultants and independent contractors.

“We can’t do individual 401(k)s for mom and pop store owners because they usually have other full-time employees who would have to be a part of the plan,” Mr. Boxx said. “The Solo 401(k) also has the advantage of the owner being able to take out loans, which is an option not available with SEP-IRAs or Simple IRAs.

“Another nice benefit of the Solo 401(k) is the option of setting it up as a Roth account, which reverses the tax flow of the traditional 401(k). With a Roth 401(k), the account owner makes contributions on an after-tax basis, but withdrawals come out tax-free.”

Although the Solo 401(k) is nearly 14 years old, Mitch Tuchman, managing director of Rebalance IRA, said every time he mentions the option to a client, they have never heard of it.

His company has set up such plans for doctors who do contract work on the side, graphic designers, self-employed engineers and real estate agents.

“These are perfect for Realtors,” he said. “It’s a better way to use the government to help you fund retirement. It relegates the [Simplified Employee Pension] to dinosaur status.”

For more information about the Solo 401(k) Plan, please contact a tax expert from the IRA Financial Group @ 800.472.0646 today!

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Sep 19

Advantages of a True Solo 401k Plan

The IRS approved solo 401(k) Plan has been used by hundreds of thousands of small businesses for over 30 years. However, the scope of options available to Solo 401(k) Plan participants is determined based on the plan documents. To this end, most financial institutions that offer Solo 401(k) Plan restrict the Plan participant to invest plan assets solely in their financial products and do not permit plan loans. Even though the IRS allows for 401(k) plans to invest in nontraditional investments, such as real estate, and allows for Plan loans (IRC 72(p)), those options are typically not offered by financial institutions because it would cut into the commissions they can earn from your plan investments. For example, if you use your 401(k) plan assets to purchase real estate or do a loan, you will have less money to buy their financial products.

The “True” Solo 401(k) Plan offered by the IRA Financial Group offers the self-employed business owner the ability to use his or her retirement funds to make almost any type of investment, including real estate, tax liens, private businesses, precious metals, and foreign currency on their own without requiring custodian consent tax-free! In addition, a Solo 401K Plan will allow you to make high contribution limits (up to $57,500) as well as borrow up to $50,000 for any purpose. Also, you will be able to open up the Solo 401(k) Qualified Plan Trust account at any local bank or credit union.

The True Solo 401(k) Plan Advantages

The IRA Financial Group’s “True” Solo 401K plan is unique and so popular because it is designed explicitly for small, owner only business.  There are many features of our “True” Solo 401(k) plan that make it so appealing and popular among self-employed business owners.

High Contribution Limits: Under the 2014 Solo 401(k) contribution rules, a plan participant under the age of 50 can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $17,500. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $52,000, an increase of $1,000 from 2013.

For plan participants over the age of 50, an individual can make a maximum employee deferral contribution in the amount of $23,000. That amount can be made in pre-tax or after-tax (Roth). On the profit sharing side, the business can make a 25% (20% in the case of a sole proprietorship or single member LLC) profit sharing contribution up to a combined maximum, including the employee deferral, of $57,500, an increase of $1,000 from 2013.

Calculate Your Solo 401k Plan Maximum Contribution Limit Please click here to calculate your Solo 401(k) Plan Maximum Contribution Limit.

 

Loan Feature: With the “True” Solo 401k Plan, a plan participant is eligible to borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of their account value (whichever is less) for any purpose, including paying credit card bills, mortgage payments, personal or business investments, a car, vacation, or anything else. The loan has to be paid back over a five year period at least quarterly at a minimum prime interest rate (you have the option of selecting a higher interest rate)

“Checkbook Control”: The most noteworthy benefit of the “True” Solo 401k Plan is that it does not require the participant to hire a bank or trust company to serve as trustee. This flexibility allows the plan participant (you) to serve in the trustee role. This means that all assets of the 401(k) trust are under the sole authority of the Solo 401k participant.  A “True” Solo 401(k) plan allows you to eliminate the expense and delays associated with an IRA custodian, enabling you to act quickly when the right investment opportunity presents itself. Making a Solo 401K Plan investment is as simple as writing a check.

Flexible Contribution Options: With the “True” Solo 401(k) Plan, contributions are completely discretionary. You always have the option to try to contribute as much as legally possible, but you always have the option of reducing or even suspending plan contributions if necessary.

Roth Type Contributions: The “True” Solo 401(k) plan contains a built in Roth sub-account which can be contributed to without any income restrictions.

Offset the Cost of Your Plan with a Tax Deduction: By paying for your Solo 401(k) with business funds, you would be eligible to claim a deduction for the cost of the plan, including annual maintenance fees. The deduction for the cost associated with the Solo 401(k) Plan and ongoing maintenance will help reduce your business’s income tax liability, which will in-turn offset the cost of adopting a self-directed Solo 401(k) Plan. The retirement tax professionals at the IRA Financial Group will help you take advantage of the available business tax deduction for adopting a Solo 401(k) Plan.

Cost Effective Administration: The “Tue” Solo 401(k) Plan is easy to operate and effortless to administer. There is generally no annual filing requirement unless your solo 401(k) Plan exceeds $250,000 in assets, in which case you will need to file a short information return with the IRS (Form 5500-EZ).

Roth Conversion: The “True” Solo 401(k) Plan allows for the conversion of pre-tax 401(k) funds to a Roth. However, the 401(k) Plan participant must pay income tax on the amount converted.

 

Financial Institution Solo 401(k) Plan

IRA Financial Group “True” Solo 401(k) Plan

High Contribution Limits (up to $52,000 if under the age of 50 and $57,500 if Participant is over 50 1/2)

Yes

Yes

Loan Feature (borrow up to $50,000 tax-free)

No

Yes

Traditional Investment Options (i.e. stocks and mutual funds)

Yes

Yes

Nontraditional Investment options (i.e. real estate, precious metals, tax liens, etc.)

No

Yes

Unlimited Investment Options

No

Yes

“Checkbook Control”

No

Yes

Roth sub-account

Yes

Yes

Roth conversion feature

No

Yes

Direct Access to your Retirement Funds

No

Yes

Serve as trustee of your Solo 401(k) Plan

Yes

Yes

Unlimited bankruptcy protection

Yes

Yes

 

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

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Sep 16

Buying Tax Liens with Your Retirement Plan

It’s a little-known fact that tax liens can be purchased with retirement account funds. By Self-Directing your IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) Plan investments into tax liens, your profits are tax-deferred back into your retirement account. More importantly, if you have full checkbook control over your Self-Directed IRA or Solo 401(k), the purchases can be made on the spot as fast as you can write a check. Tax Liens have been a lesser known and under-appreciated money-maker, however learning how they can magnify your earnings in a tax-deferred IRA LLC or 401(k) will make them one of the soundest investments in your retirement account.

The purchase of tax lien certificates is a surprisingly safe investment. The transaction is fast and its characteristics make tax liens a perfect investment for the individual with full checkbook control of an IRA Financial Group IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) Plan. In fact, the use of a Self-Directed IRA LLC is one of the most tax efficient ways to finance your tax lien purchase. IRA Financial Group’s IRA LLC allows investors to participate in a wide range of investment vehicles including, but not limited to tax liens, real estate, mortgages, franchise, notes, stocks and mutual funds, partnerships, etc.

Buying Tax Liens With Your IRA Financial Group Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) PlanThe Solo 401(k) Plan offers a highly attractive loan feature allowing for the purchase of tax liens. Under the Solo 401(k) Plan, a participant can borrow up to either $50,000 or 50% of their account value – whichever is less. The IRA Financial Group Solo 401(k) Plan documents will allow you to use a loan from your Solo 401(k) to finance your tax lien purchase.

These unique IRS approved structures are created by IRA Financial Group’s in-house tax and ERISA professionals who personally customize your account structure to suit your needs. Only a handful of institutions are skilled in these specialized account structures and IRA Financial Group is the “gold standard” for Compliance, Leadership, Customer Service, and Technological Innovation.

Facts & Opportunities Surrounding Tax Liens

Real estate has long been considered one of the best (and safest) investment opportunities for both the large and small capitalist. Savvy investors know that the trick to making money in a downward spiraling market is to purchase properties for a fraction of their value. The question is…How? Many are finding the perfect answer in the high-profit possibilities of investing in Tax Lien Sales.

When a property owner falls behind on their taxes, failing to pay for one or more years, the local taxing authority has the legal right to place a lien or repossess the property and sell it at auction to recoup the lost tax revenue. How long local authorities wait to seize individual properties, and how much they allow to be owed on it before one of these events is up to the lien laws in their particular area. In many cases properties may be acquired for a few thousand dollars, regardless of how much it’s actually worth! Similarly, paying off the lien on others may cost more than the house or land is worth. A savvy investor takes the time to research each property carefully prior to sale day.

Tax Lien Sales

Tax lien sales usually happen at public auctions once or twice a year, depending on the area in which it is located, and how many properties the government may seize annually for back taxes. Larger urban areas may hold monthly auctions, while smaller rural ones might only have one a year.

Types of Tax Liens

There are two types of tax lien sales through auction: the tax lien certificate; and the tax lien deed. Both can be a safe yet profitable opportunity for investors with check book control.

Tax Lien Certificate sales offer the delinquent homeowner one last chance to retain ownership of their property, by using third-party investment money to pay off the taxes and give them a bit more time to collect the money needed to pay their debt without the risk of losing their home. When an investor bids on a tax lien certificate, he is in essence agreeing to loan the homeowner the money needed to pay all taxes due. The homeowner, in turn, agrees to pay back the tax lien certificate holder – with interest – by a specified date. If the homeowner fails to pay the debt on time, the deed to the property is transferred to the investor for the amount paid on the taxes. Either way the investor makes a profit: either on the interest he earns on the loan; or by obtaining the property for a fraction of its value through the tax lien sale, and then reselling it.

Tax Lien Deed sales are handled a bit differently, since the investor is actually bidding (or buying), the complete property at the time of auction, with no responsibility to give the homeowner more time to pay his/her tax debt. Once the selling price is approved, the deed is automatically transferred to its new owner, giving the investor full reign as to what to do with the property next: renovate it; sell it as-is; or raze the existing house and build anew.

Investors usually pay more for properties in this type of tax lien sale, which may lower their profit margins compared to the acquisition of tax lien certificate properties. But, many investors prefer outright purchases to eliminate problems with current homeowners. Either way, investing in tax liens is a profitable and easy way to enter the real estate market in virtually any area.

How Much Money Can I Make and How?

1. Double Your Money Quickly. A Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) plan can be supercharged when you buy tax lien certificates. Example: A tax lien certificate can earn up to 16% annually in your Self-Directed IRA or Solo 401(k). When you buy tax lien investments you generally receive the amount invested plus interest within 12 months. If you continue to reinvest in tax liens year after year at 16%, you can double your money in about 4.4 years. Only a Self-Directed IRA LLC can preserve this 16% return, as traditional IRAs do not invest in tax liens.

2. Your Money Grows Tax-Free. By buying tax liens in an IRA Financial Group Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k), you can avoid all taxes until the money invested is withdrawn from the IRA or 401(k), which is usually around age 59 1/2. The money can be invested once, twice or a thousand times and continue to grow tax-free, so long as it is not withdrawn for personal use. If you use a Self-Directed Roth IRA LLC, your investment will grow tax-free and you can withdraw the funds tax-free once you reach the age of 59 1/2.

3. The Flexibility to Buy Time Sensitive Investments. IRA Financial Group’s Self-Directed IRA LLC allows you to carry a checkbook that is tied to the account while the Solo 401(k) Plan allows the participant to serve in the trustee role. This means that all assets of the 401(k) trust are under your sole authority (“checkbook control”). This gives you incredible freedom to fund the investment at a moment’s notice. In this arrangement, you can buy tax liens with the stroke of the pen, without a custodian or other bureaucrat saying no or otherwise trying to slow down the process.

Tax liens are backed and leveraged by real estate and guaranteed by the governmental taxing authority. In most states, they are a first lien on real estate, and when foreclosed, they wipe out all junior liens, including mortgages. This allows you to potentially receive a valuable piece of real estate for pennies on the dollar!

Time to Act

Real property has been the cornerstone of wealth for thousands of years. While ill-informed speculators have fled real estate because of the housing bust, intelligent real estate investors are enjoying immense profits by expanding their geographic scope and investing for predictable income.

Why are we significantly less than everyone else and “The best in the business”?

Establish a Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) with IRA Financial Group and have immediate “checkbook control” to make tax lien investments.

Our in-house tax and ERISA professionals will take care of setting up your Self-Directed IRA LLC or Solo 401(k) Plan. Our tax and ERISA professionals are onsite greatly reducing the setup 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.

Please contact one of our Retirement Experts at 800-472-0646 for more information.

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Sep 15

How to Use a Solo 401k to Purchase Real Estate

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 Using a Solo 401(k) To Purchase 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 35% 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.

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Sep 10

The Law Concerning Solo 401k Plans

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ( ERISA) ( Pub.L. 93-406, 88  Stat. 829, enacted September 2, 1974) is an American federal statute that establishes minimum standards for pension plans in private industry and provides for extensive rules on the federal income tax effects of transactions associated with employee benefit plans. ERISA contained sweeping changes in the regulation of pension plans, and created rules regarding reporting and disclosure, funding, vesting, and fiduciary duties. Although ERISA was aimed mostly at “assuring the equitable character” and “financial soundness” of pension plans, the Act contained numerous provisions impacting plans (like profit-sharing plans, and eventually 401(k) plans). For example, ERISA contained a provision that allowed plans to delegate investment responsibility to participants and thereby relieve the plan sponsor from investment responsibility, which today is the basis for participant-directed 401(k) plans.

The law concerning the Solo 401k PlanIn 1978, Congress amended the Internal Revenue Code by adding section 401(k), whereby employees are not taxed on income they choose to receive as deferred compensation rather than direct compensation. The law went into effect on January 1, 1980. Although a tax code provision permitting cash or deferred arrangements (CODAs) was added in 1978 as Section 401(k), it was not until November 10, 1981 that the IRS formally described the rules for these plans.

The “one-participant 401(k) plan” is an IRS approved type of qualified plan, which is suited for business owners who do not have any employees, other than themselves and perhaps their spouse. The “one-participant 401(k) plan” is not a new type of plan. It is a traditional 401(k) plan covering only one employee. The plans have the same rules and requirements as any other 401(k) plan. The surging interest in these plans is a result of the EGTRRA tax law change that became effective in 2002. The law changed how salary deferral contributions are treated when calculating the maximum deduction limits for contributions to a 401(k) plan. This change created an opportunity for some people to put away additional amounts toward their retirement.

It was not until the late 1990s that the regulatory climate began to change for 401(k) plans. In 1996, as part of a package of reforms aimed at bolstering small businesses— the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (SBJPA) , Congress acted to encourage employers to offer retirement plans, including 401(k) plans. The SBJPA simplified nondiscrimination tests and repealed rules imposing limits on the contributions that could be made to a retirement plan by an employee that also participated in a DB plan. In addition, starting in the late 1990s, the IRS issued a series of rulings allowing automatic enrollment.

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) contained many provisions that affected qualified retirement plans in a positive way. Two of the most significant changes were the increase in the maximum salary deferral amount for 401(k) plans along with a “catch-up” contribution and the ability to receive an allocation under the plan.

According to the IRS, there are approximately one million private retirement plans covering over 99 million participants.

IRS Publication 560 sets forth the general rules pertaining to a small business retirement plan, such as a Solo 401(k) Plan.

For additional information on the legality of the Solo 401(k) Plan, please contact one of our 401(k) Experts at 800-472-0646.

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