Dec 27

How to Use an Individual 401(k) Loan to Make Investments

When it comes to using retirement funds, such as a Solo 401K Plan, to make investments, the question arises whether you can take a 401(k) Loan as part of the transaction.

How to Use an Individual 401(k) Loan to Make InvestmentsThe 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.

The 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 40% for 2017). 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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Oct 13

Some Disadvantages of Using ROBS to Start Your 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 solution (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. Hence, in order to use retirement funds to invest in a business in which a disqualified person will be personally involve one needs a “C” Corporation to operate a business and adopt a 401(k) Plan

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;

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.

Four Disadvantages of Establishing a ROBS

1. The “C” Corporation Requirement: Although there are advantages to establishing a “C” corporation, such as owner’s liability protection from the actions of the company, there are several disadvantages as well.

2. Double Taxation: Corporations, unlike other companies that are considered sole proprietorships and partnerships, file their own taxes separately from their owners at their own tax rates. After the company’s profits are taxed at the corporate level, they are then distributed to the shareholders who have to report the amount received on their individual tax returns. The corporate tax rate is generally 15% for corporate profits under $50,000 and 35% for profits above $50,000. This isn’t the case for Sub-chapter S corporations or LLC, where the profits bypass being taxed at the corporate level and are distributed and taxed at the shareholder’s level. That is called pass-through taxation. For example, if we assume a 20% income tax rate for both corporation and individuals and a “C” Corporation earned $100 of profits, the “C” Corporation would be required to pay tax of $20 (20% of $100) and then the shareholder would be required to pay tax of $16 (20% of $80) on any dividend issued by the “C” Corporation to the shareholder. Whereas, in the case of an LLC or “S” Corporation, there is no entity level tax so the $100 would flow directly to the shareholder or LLC member and a tax of only $20% would be imposed at the shareholder level. Comparing this with the “C” Corporation example, by using a passthrough entity such as an “S” Corporation or LLC, the individual would save $16 in our example (total tax of $36 with a “C” Corporation versus $20 in the case of an LLC or “S” Corporation.

Some Disadvantages of Using ROBS to Start Your BusinessIt is important to note that it can be argued that the disadvantage of double taxation bite does not impact retirement accounts (i.e. 401(k) plans) as much as individuals, since the dividend from the “C” Corporation to the 401(k) plan shareholder would be exempt from tax since a 401(k) plan is a tax-exempt retirement account. However, the double taxation is not eliminated but simply deferred until the 401(k) plan participant elects to take a 401(k) plan distribution, which would generally be subject to a second tax (the first tax would be applied at the “C” Corporation level). In contrast, if a 401(k) plan invested in an LLC, a passthrough entity for taxation, the income or gains from the LLC would generally flow back to the 401(k) plan without tax and the 401(k) plan participant would only be required to pay one tax when a distribution is taken.

Unfortunately, the IRS rules require a “C” Corporation be used when a retirement account holder wishes to use retirement funds to invest in a business they or another disqualified person will be involved in. The issue of double taxation is certainly one disadvantage of the ROBS solution, but it is generally perceived as better than paying tax and potentially a 10% early distribution penalty on a distribution from your retirement account.

Regulations and Formalities

Sub-chapter C corporations generally involve more corporate formalities than LLCs, for example. In general, “C” Corporations have to report annually to the states in which they’re incorporated, and the states in which they do a lot of business, on an annual basis. Also, “C” Corporations must observe certain formalities to be considered corporations. This includes holding regular board and shareholder meetings and issuing stock. Also, the names of corporate officers are made public, which is not required by businesses formed under different organizational structures.

401(k) Plan Administration

Even though 401(k) plan administration costs have come down significantly over the years, there is still a cost of offering a 401(k) plan to employees. In addition to having to make a 3% safe harbor contribution, which will be discussed below, 401(k) plans cost money to administer because there are many compliance issues that have to be monitored, there are many ongoing service and administration functions that have to be provided, and there are a host of education and communication services that are required to be offered to plan participants. It is not uncommon for a small business 401(k) Plan to cost anywhere from $750-$1500 annually for a third-party administration company to administer as well as file the annual IRS Form 5500 .

3. Matching Contributions: 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 or $1200 to the 401(k) plan, the employer would contribute an additional $1200 (3% of the salary) to the individual 401(k) plan account. Taking this a step further, if the business has 5 employees and each employee makes $40,000 a year, the employer now has to make $6000 in employer matching contributions. Although the contributions are tax deductible to the employer, it is still additional funds that are being removed from the company and could impact the cash flow of a new small business.

4. Potential IRS Audit: Dating back to the 2005 or so, the IRS started focusing some attention on the ROBS solutions and some of the abuses they perceived were occurring.

To this end, on October 31, 2008, Michael Julianelle, Director, Employee Plans, signed a “Memorandum” approving IRS ROBS Examination Guidelines. The IRS stated that while this type of structure is legal and not considered an abusive tax avoidance transaction, the execution of these types of transactions, in many cases, have not been found to be in full compliance with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. In the “Memorandum”, the IRS highlighted two compliance areas that they felt were not being adequately followed by the promoters implementing the structure during this time period. The first non-compliance area of concern the IRS highlighted in the “Memorandum” was the lack of disclosure of the adopted 401(k) Plan to the company’s employees and the second non-compliance area was establishing an independent appraisal to determine the fair market value of the business being purchased. In sum, the IRS was concerned that people were using their retirement funds to buy a business and either the business was not being purchased and the individual then used the funds for personal purposes, thus avoiding tax and potential penalties, or the business that was purchased closed, and the retirement account liquidated, thus, leaving the IRS without the potential to tax the retirement account in the future.

The IRS did not publicly comment on the ROBS solution again until August 27, 2010, almost two years after publishing the “Memorandum”, the IRS held a public phone forum open to the public which covered transactions involving using retirement funds to purchase a business. Monika Templeman, Director of Employee Plans Examinations and Colleen Patton, Area Manager of Employee Plans Examinations for the Pacific Coast spent considerable time discussing the IRS’s position on this subject. Monika Templeman began the presentation reaffirming the IRS’s position that a transaction involving the use of retirement funds to purchase a new business is legal and not an abusive tax-avoidance transaction as long as the transaction complies with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures. The concern the IRS has had with these types of transactions is that the promoters who have been offering these transactions have not had the expertise to develop structures that are fully compliant with IRS and ERISA rules and regulations. The IRS added that a large percentage of the transactions they reviewed were in non-compliance largely due to the following non-compliance issues: (i) failure by the promoters to develop a structure that requires the new company to disclose the new 401(k) Plan to the company’s employees and, (ii) the failure to require the client to secure an independent appraisal to determine the fair market value of the company stock being purchased by the 401(k) Plan. The IRS concluded by stating that a transaction using retirement funds to acquire a business is legal and not prohibited so long as the transaction is structured correctly to comply with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures.

So does the ROBS solution trigger an audit? No one knows what factors trigger an IRS audit, but although legal, the ROBS solution is something the IRS and Department of Labor is looking at. Again, if your structure is set-up properly and the funds are used to buy a business, the 401k plan is being offered to all eligible employees, a valuation of the stock purchased is performed, and the plan is compliant with all annual testing and IRS filing requirement, there is nothing to be concerned with if your plan was audited by the IRS or DOL.

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

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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.

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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 10

How to Use ROBS to Start a Business with 401k Funds

The Business Acquisition & Compliance Solution Structure (BACSS), also known as the “Rollover Business Start-Up” (ROBS) Solution, is an IRS and ERISA approved structure that allows an individual to use retirement funds, such as an IRA or 401(k), to purchase a new or existing business or franchise tax-free and penalty-free.

The ROBS arrangement typically involves rolling over a prior IRA or 401(k) plan account into a newly established 401(k) plan, which a start-up C Corporation business sponsored, and then investing the rollover funds in the stock of the new C Corporation.

What is the Difference between using a Self-Directed IRA Vs. ROBS structure to buy a business?

At first glance, using a Self-Directed IRA LLC to purchase stock in a corporation would seem to share many similarities with the ROBS structure.

How to Use ROBS to Start a Business with 401k FundsWith IRA Financial Group’s ROBS transactions, the structure typically involves the following sequential steps: (i) an entrepreneur or existing business owner establishes a new C Corporation; (ii) 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.”; (iii) 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; (iv) 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 (v) the C Corporation utilizes the proceeds from the sale of stock to purchase an existing business or to begin a new venture.

With IRA Financial group’s ROBS strategy, the newly formed business will also be able to borrow from third parties, pay salaries to employees (including shareholders/plan participants), and engage in other routine business transactions with disqualified persons. Commonly, a corporate officer or shareholder will make or guarantee loans to the business.

With a Self-Directed IRA LLC, an entrepreneur could use retirement funds to purchase business assets like with the ROBS strategy. However, that individual would not be able to be actively involved in the business, earn a salary, or even personally guarantee a business loan.

The recent U.S. Tax Court case Ellis v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, No. 14-1310 (8th Cir. 2015) highlights the risk and limitations involved when using a Self-Directed IRA to purchase business assets. In the Ellis case, the taxpayers used IRA funds to invest in a corporation that ultimately purchased business assets. Because Mr. Ellis used an IRA and not a 401(k) Plan to purchase the C Corporation stock, Mr. Ellis was not able to earn a salary or personally guarantee a business loan, which ultimately was the cause of the IRS prohibited transaction rule violation.

If Mr. Ellis had used IRA Financial Group’s ROBS strategy, he would have been able to purchase business assets with retirement funds, earn a salary from the business, as well as personally guarantee the business loan without triggering the IRS prohibited transaction rules.

Legal Foundation for the ROBS Solution

An individual retirement account investor is able to use retirement funds to invest in an active trade or business with tax or penalty because the ROBS solution qualifies for a special exemption set forth under IRC 4975(d) to certain prohibited transaction rules. The exemption to the prohibited transaction rules under IRC 4975(d) is centered around ERISA Section 408(e). It is IRC Section 4975(d) and ERISA Section 408(e) which shields employers from scrutiny of routine (non-abusive) corporate transactions by the plan sponsor and other “disqualified persons,” which might otherwise constitute technical violations of the prohibited transaction rules (due to the employer-sponsored retirement plan’s ownership of employer securities). If the plan sponsor and other fiduciaries’ routine corporate transactions did not fall within the purview of ERISA Section 408(e), the prohibited transaction rules would needlessly prohibit a myriad of legitimate business transactions and would ultimately nullify the exemption that Congress intended to provide. To accomplish its intended effect, ERISA Section 408(e) must be read to exempt the natural and necessary commercial consequences of owning corporate stock, rather than just the stock purchase or divestiture.

Important tax and economic policy considerations also compel a different result for 401(k) plans than IRAs. Congress specifically intended to encourage 401(k) plans to invest in employer securities, within certain limits. The opportunity to invest in employer securities through retirement plans benefits employers and employees alike by aligning their economic interests.

Outside the context of ROBS arrangements, many 401(k) plans permit participants to invest in employer stock. A number of large 401(k) plans, including plans sponsored by Apple and Pepsi, include substantial allocations of employer stock.

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

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Jul 28

Take Control of Your Retirement with a Checkbook Control Solo 401(k)

With a Solo 401(k) Plan, as trustee of the Plan, you no longer have to get each 401(k) Plan investment approved by the custodian of your account. This means that all assets of the 401(k) trust are under the sole authority of the Solo 401k Plan participant (you).  A 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.

Take Control of Your Retirement with a Checkbook Control Solo 401(k)For example, Mary has established a Solo 401(k) Plan for her business. Mary is appointed the trustee of her business’s Solo 401(k) Plan. Mary has opened her Solo 401(k) Plan bank account at a local bank. Mary wishes to use her 401(k) Plan funds to purchase a home from Ben, an unrelated third-party (non-disqualified person). Ben is anxious to close the transaction as soon as possible. With a Solo 401(k) Plan, Mary, as trustee of the Plan, can simply write a check using the funds from the 401(k) Plan bank account or can wire the funds directly from the account to Ben. Mary, as trustee of the Plan, no longer needs to seek the consent of the custodian or a financial institution before making the real estate purchase. With a Solo 401(k) Plan without “checkbook control”, Mary would likely not be able to make the real estate purchase since seeking custodian approval would have likely taken too much time.

Investment Opportunities

With a Solo 401(k) Plan, you will be able to invest in almost any type of investment opportunity that you discover, including: Real Estate (rentals, foreclosures, raw land, tax liens etc.), Private Businesses, Precious Metals, Hard Money & Peer to Peer Lending as well as stock and mutual funds; you’re only limit is your imagination. The income and gains from these investments will flow back into your 401(k) Plan tax-free.

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 or 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 has always permitted a 401(k) Plan to purchase or hold real estate or raw land. Making a real estate investment is as simple as writing a check. Since you are the trustee of your Solo 401(k) Plan, you have the authority to make investment decisions on behalf of your 401(k) Plan. One major advantage of purchasing real estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan is that all gains are tax-deferred until a distribution is taken.

For example, if you purchased a piece of property with your Solo 401(k) Plan for $200,000 and later sold the property for $400,000, the $200,000 of gain 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 taxes and in most cases state income tax.

Using Leverage to Purchase Real Estate with a Solo 401(k) Plan

Unlike a Self Directed IRA LLC, when a Solo 401(k) Plan buys real estate that is leveraged with mortgage financing it is exempt from paying any Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI or UBIT) tax on the income or gain generated. With the UBTI tax rates at approximately 35%, the Solo 401(k) Plan offers real estate investors looking to use nonrecourse financing in a transaction a tax efficient solution.

Tax Liens

By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase tax-liens or tax deeds, all income and profits are tax-deferred back into your Solo 401(k) Plan until a distribution is taken. More importantly, with a Solo 401(k) Plan, you, as the trustee, will have “checkbook control” over your 401(k) Plan 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 and ERISA rules permit the use of Solo 401(k) Plan 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.

For example, if you used a Solo 401(k) Plan to loan money to a friend, all interest received would flow back into your Solo 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 Solo 401(k) Plan 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.

Investing in an Active Business – The Unrelated Business Taxable Income Rules

If a Solo 401(k) invests in any business regularly carried on or by a partnership or LLC of which it is a member, all income or gains allocated to the Solo 401(k) will likely be treated as an unrelated business and subject to the Unrelated Business Taxable Income (“UBTI” or “UBIT”) rules pursuant to Section 512 of the Internal Revenue Code. For example, a Solo 401(k) investment into an LLC or partnership that is engaged in an active trade or business such a shoe factory; gas station, retail store or restaurant would likely be treated as an unrelated business and subject to UBTI.

The UBTI rules were enacted by Congress in the 1950s t o prevent tax-exempt entities, such as charities, from competing unfairly with taxable entities. Since an 401(k) is treated as a tax-exempt entity pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 401, the UBTI rules apply to Solo 401(k) investments.

Most 401(k) investments are not subject to the UBTI rules because of the many exceptions available. For example, dividends, interest, annuities, royalties, capital gains, most rentals from real estate, and gains/losses from the sale of real estate are all excluded from the application of the UBTI tax. However, rental income generated from real estate that is “debt financed” loses the exclusion, and that portion of the income becomes subject to UBTI.

A Solo 401(k) subject to UBTI is taxed at the trust tax rate because a 401(k) is considered a trust pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 401. For 2011, a Solo 401(k) subject to UBTI is taxed at the following rates:

  • $0 – $2,300 = 15%
  • $2,300 – $5,350 = $345 + 25%
  • $5,350 – $8,200 = $1,107.50 + 28%
  • $8200 – $11,200 = $1,905.50 + 33%
  • Over $11,200 = $2,895.50 + 35%

Precious Metals & Coins

A Solo 401(k) Plan is permitted to invest in certain platinum coins as well as certain gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bullion provided the coins are held in a financial organization.

The advantages of using a Solo 401(k) Plan with “checkbook control” 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 metals and/or coins can be held in the name of the 401(k) Plan at a financial organization (at any local bank) safety deposit box eliminating depository fees.

Foreign Currencies

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

Purchasing foreign currency, such as the Iraqi Dinar, with a Solo 401(k) Plan is as easy as writing a check. As trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan, you will have “checkbook control” over your 401(k) Plan funds, providing you with the ability to make investments without requiring custodian consent. In addition, the foreign currency notes, including Iraqi Dinars, can be held in the name of the 401(k) Plan at a financial organization (any local bank) safety deposit box eliminating depository fees.

By using a Solo 401(k) Plan to purchase foreign currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, all foreign currency gains generated would be tax-deferred until a distribution is taken. In the case of a Solo 401(k) Plan, all foreign currency gains would be tax-free.

Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, CDs

In addition to non-traditional investments such as real estate, a Solo 401(k) Plan 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!

What Types of Investments are Not Permitted Using a Solo 401(k) Plan?

The Internal Revenue Code does not describe what an IRA can invest in, only what it cannot invest in. Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 prohibits Disqualified Persons from engaging in certain type of transactions. The purpose of these rules is to encourage the use of 401(k) funds for accumulation of retirement savings and to prohibit those in control of retirement funds from taking advantage of the tax benefits for their personal account.

Who is a “Disqualified Person”?

The IRS has restricted certain transactions between the Solo 401(k) Plan and a “disqualified person”. The rationale behind these rules was a congressional assumption that certain transactions between certain parties are inherently suspicious and should be disallowed.

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 401(k) Plan participant, any ancestors or lineal descendants of the 401(k) Plan participant, and entities in which the 401(k) Plan participant holds a controlling equity or management interest. In essence, under Code Section 4975, a “Disqualified Person” means:

  • A fiduciary (e.g., the 401(k) Plan participant, or person having authority over making 401(k) Plan investments),
  • A person providing services to the plan (e.g., the trustee or custodian),
  • An employer, any of whose employees are covered by the 401(k) Plan,
  • An employee organization any of whose members are covered by the 401(k) Plan,
  • A 50 percent owner of C or D above,
  • A family member of A, B, C, or D above (family members include the fiduciary’s spouse, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses of the fiduciary’s children and grandchildren (but not parents-in-law),
  • An entity (corporation, partnership, trust or estate) owned or controlled more than 50 percent by A, B, C, D, or E. Whether an entity is a disqualified person is determined by considering the indirect stockholdings/interest which would be taken into account under Code Sec. 267(c), except that members of a fiduciary’s family are the family members under Code Sec. 4975(e)(6) (lineal descendants) for purposes of determining disqualified persons.
  • A 10 percent owner, officer, director, or highly compensated employee of C, D, E, or G,
  • A 10 percent or more partner or joint venturer of a person described in C, D, E, or G.

Note: brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-brothers, step-sisters, and friends are NOT treated as “Disqualified Persons”.

Prohibited Transactions

Solo 401(k) prohibited transactions are listed in Code Section 4975; prohibited transactions are any direct or indirect:

  • Sale or exchange, or leasing, of any property between a plan and a disqualified person;
  • Lending of money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person;
  • Furnishing of goods, services, or facilities between a plan and a disqualified person;
  • Transfer to, or use by or for the benefit of, a disqualified person of the income or assets of a plan;
  • Act by a disqualified person who is a fiduciary whereby he deals with the income or assets of a plan in his own interests or for his own account; or
  • Receipt of any consideration for his own personal account by any disqualified person who is a fiduciary from any party dealing with the plan in connection with a transaction involving the income or assets of the plan.

Examples of Prohibited Transactions

The following are a number of common Solo 401(k) Plan related transactions that are prohibited pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975:

  • Selling interest in real estate to a Disqualified Person
  • Selling or transferring real estate you own personally to your Solo 401(k) Plan
  • Purchasing real estate with Solo 401(k) funds and leasing to a disqualified person
  • Investing 401(k) funds in a house that is used by the 401(k) owner (or other Disqualified Person)
  • Using the Solo 401(k) Plan as security for a loan
  • Personally guaranteeing a loan to your Solo 401(k) Plan
  • Buying real estate with your Solo 401(k) Plan and making repairs personally or having a “Disqualified Person” make repairs
  • Buying real estate with personal funds and then transferring title to the Solo 401(k)
  • Using personal funds to pay taxes and expenses related to the Solo 401(k) Plan real estate investment
  • Being compensated for any services performed for or on behalf of the Solo 401(k) Plan
  • Contributing personal funds to your 401(k) Plan bank account
  • Acquiring a credit card for your Solo 401(k) Plan bank account
  • Using your retirement funds to make a real estate investment and earning a commission personally from the purchase
  • Making an investment using your 401(k) Plan into a company or fund that will benefit the 401(k) Plan participant or a Disqualified Person personally
  • Making an investment using Solo 401(k) funds to facilitate or protect the 401(k) owner’s investment
  • The Solo 401(k) invests in a business owned by the Solo 401(k) Plan participant who serves as the 401(k) Plan trustee and the 401(k) Plan participant owner generates a salary from the business
  • Solo 401(k) Plan participant, as trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan, using 401(k) Plan funds to lend money to an entity which he/she has an interest in
  • Engaging in a transaction whereby the Solo 401(k) Plan participant – serving as trustee of the 401(k) Plan – independent judgment is affected
  • Purchasing company stock from the Solo 401(k) Plan participant whereby the purchase helps the Solo 401(k) Plan owner personally
  • Investing in a company owned by the Solo 401(k) Plan participant who is the trustee of the Solo 401(k) Plan whereby the investments benefits the Solo 401(k) Plan participant personally

Tax-Free Gains

With a Solo 401(k) Plan “Checkbook Control” structure, all income and gains from investments will generally flow back to your 401(k) Plan tax-free. Because a 401(k) Plan is treated as a tax-exempt entity pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 401, all income and gains generated by the 401(k) Plan will flow-through to the 401(k) Plan account tax-free!

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

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Jul 07

How to Use a Solo 401k Plan to Invest in Options

When it comes to making investments with a Solo 401(k) Plan, the IRS generally does not tell you what you can invest in, only what you cannot invest in. The types of investments that are not permitted to be made using retirement funds is outlined in Internal Revenue Code Section 408 and 4975. These rules are generally known as the “Prohibited Transaction” rules.

In addition to the Prohibited Transaction rules, the IRS imposes a levy or tax on certain transactions involving IRA funds. In general, when one uses IRA funds to invest in an active business, such as a restaurant, store, factory that is operated through a passthrough entity such as a Limited Liability Company or Partnership or used nonrecourse financing, such as a nonrecourse loan or margin in a stock or trading account, a percentage of net profits or income generated by that activity could be subject to a tax. The tax imposed is often referred to as Unrelated Business Taxable Income or UBIT or UBTI. The UBTI rules are generally outlined in Internal Revenue Code Sections 512-514.

How to Use a Solo 401k Plan to Invest in OptionsThe reason the UBTI tax rules do not impact most retirement investors, is that Internal Revenue Code Section 512(b) provides a general exemption for the following categories of income generated by a retirement account: dividends, interest, royalties, rental income, and capital gain type transaction, As a result, since the majority of retirement investors purchase publicly traded company stock, which is exempted from the UBTI tax pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 512, the UBTI tax rules are not widely known.

When it comes to investing in options with a Solo 401(k) Plan the question then becomes whether the investment would trigger the UBTI rules. An option is a contract that gives the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specific price on or before a certain date. An option, just like a stock or bond, is a security. It is also a binding contract with strictly defined terms and properties.

According to the IRS , any gain from the lapse or termination of options to buy or sell securities is excluded from unrelated business taxable income. Note – the exclusion is not available if the organization is engaged in the trade or business of writing options or the options are held by the organization as inventory or for sale to customers in the ordinary course of a trade or business. Hence, if option trading is not being done as an active trade or business, then using a Solo 401(k) Plan to invest in options would not trigger the UBTI tax rules.

For more information on using a solo 401(k) Plan to invest in options, please contact a tax professional at 800-472-0646.

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Mar 05

Can You Purchase Stock in a Personal Business with Your 401k?

Yes. The Internal Revenue Code and ERISA have firmly codified the ability to use retirement funds to invest in the stock of a sponsoring company as long as certain IRS and ERISA rules are followed.  One way to use 401(k) funds to invest in a business is by utilizing the Rollover as Business Startup, or ROBS.

Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(c) includes a list of transactions that the IRS deems “prohibited”. However, Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d) lists a number of exemptions to the prohibited transaction rules. Specifically Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d)(13) lists an exemption for any transaction which is exempt from section 406 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) by reason of Section 408(e) of such Act.

ERISA Section 408(e) provides that ERISA Section 406 shall not apply to the purchase by the Plan of qualifying employer securities (as defined in ERISA Section 407(d)(5)), provided that: (1) the acquisition or sale is for adequate consideration; (2) no commission is charged with respect to the acquisition or sale; and (3) the plan is an eligible individual account plan (as defined in ERISA Section 407(d)(3)). A 401(k) plan fits in to this definition.

Pursuant to ERISA Section 406, the acquisition or sale must be for “adequate consideration”. Except in the case of a “marketable obligation”, adequate consideration for this purpose means a price not less favorable than the price determined under ERISA Section 3(18), subject to a requirement that the acquisition or sale must be for “adequate consideration,” An exchange of company stock between the plan and its employer-sponsor would be a prohibited transaction, unless the requirements of ERISA Section 408(e) are met.

The exemptions in Internal Revenue Code 4975(d) shall not apply to items described in Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(f)(6). Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(f)(6)(A)) states that the exemption of Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(d) shall not apply i n the case of a trust described in Internal Revenue Code Section 401(a), which is part of a plan providing contributions or benefits for employees Can You Purchase Stock in a Personal Business with Your 401k?some or all of whom are owner-employees (other than paragraphs (9) and (12)) shall not apply to a transaction in which the plan directly or indirectly— (i) lends any part of the corpus or income of the plan to, (ii) pays any compensation for personal services rendered to the plan to, or ( iii) acquires for the plan any property from or sells any property to, any such owner-employee, a member of the family of any such owner-employee, or any corporation in which any such owner-employee owns, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock entitled to vote or 50 percent or more of the total value of shares of all classes of stock of the corporation. Therefore, since the Plan will be purchasing “qualified employer securities” directly from the newly formed corporation, the purchase of corporate stock will not be treated as a prohibited transaction pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975.

ERISA Section 407(b)(1) generally places limitations on the acquisition and holding of Qualifying Employer Securities (normally 10% of plan assets). However, the Section includes an exception for “eligible individual account plans” (ERISA 407(b)(1)). As set forth in ERISA Section 407(d)(3), a qualified profit sharing plan is included in the definition of “eligible individual account plans”. In addition, pursuant to ERISA Section 404(a)(2), these plans do not violate ERISA’s diversification and, to the extent it requires diversification, prudence requirements.

The IRA Financial Group’s retirement tax professionals will work with you directly to develop an IRS and ERISA fully compliant business acquisition or funding solution customized to your individual business, financial, and retirement needs.

For more information about using your 401(k) to invest in a business, please contact us @ 800.472.0646.

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Jan 11

If You Take a Solo 401k Loan, Are You Restricted by the Prohibited Transaction Rules?

No, a Solo 401(k) loan is permitted at any time and for any purpose using the accumulated balance of the solo 401k as collateral for the loan. 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 greater than quarterly. The interest rate must be set at a reasonable rate of interest – generally interpreted as the Prime Interest Rate as per the Wall Street Journal. As of 1/1/17 prime rate is 3.75%. The Interest rate is fixed based on the prime rate at the time of the loan application.

If You Take a Solo 401k Loan, Are You Restricted by the Prohibited Transaction Rules?

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

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Jan 09

How to Start Your Own Business in 2017 Using Your 401(k) Funds

Leaving your job or thinking of leaving your job and a have 401(k) qualified retirement plan or other type of retirement plan? Why not use your retirement funds to invest in yourself instead of a volatile stock market? Why not use your 401(k) funds on a business you can run, manage, and even earn a salary from? Isn’t it time you placed your retirement future in your hands rather than trust Wall Street bankers?

With IRA Financial Group’s Business Acquisition structure, a new C Corporation is formed which will adopt a 401(k) Qualified Plan. Your existing retirement funds can then be rolled into the newly adopted 401(k) Plan tax-free. The 401(k) Plan will then purchase the stock of the new corporation. The new corporation will then use those funds to purchase a new business or franchise tax-free!

With the IRS compliant Business Acquisition Structure, you can earn a reasonable salary from your new business or franchise. You can also use your new 401(k) Plan to make high tax-deductible contributions – $54,000 ($60,000 if you are over the age of 50) and even borrow up to $50,000 for any purpose.

What does the IRS Say about this?

How to Start Your Own Business in 2017 Using Your 401(k) FundsThe Internal revenue Code explicitly permits the purchase of corporate stock by a 401(k) Qualified Plan. The IRS has repeatedly confirmed that the structure is legal but has expressed some concern about the potential for abuse by individuals not being properly advised by tax professionals. For example, the IRS has documented the following instances of abuse when it comes to using retirement funds to invest in a business: (i) the employees of the business are not properly informed that a 401(k) qualified plan has been adopted by the business and that they are eligible to participate, (ii) the individual that established the structure with no intention to use for business purpose and the sole purpose for establishment was to get access to the retirement funds without penalty, or (iii) the structure would be used to purchase assets for personal use with the retirement funds.

Therefore, the IRS has stressed that it is imperative that when using retirement funds to establish or finance a new or existing business or franchise, it is necessary to work with qualified tax professionals who have experience in this area and can make sure the structure is established in full compliance with IRS and ERISA rules and procedures.

IRA Financial Group’s Business Acquisition structure is an IRS compliant legal structure that one can use to invest retirement funds into a business they will operate and be employed by. Work with IRA Financial Group’s in-house tax professionals to help establish your IRS compliant Business Acquisition Solution.

Using IRA Financial Group’s Business Acquisition Solution is the only way you will be able to use your retirement fund to legally start or finance a new or existing business tax-free and penalty free! Whereas, with a self-directed IRA LLC, an individual can invest retirement funds in a private business, but not a business that he or she would be involved in – that would be considered a prohibited transaction pursuant to Internal Revenue Code 4975. While, with a Solo 401K, an individual could only borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of his or her account value whichever is less and use that loan for any purpose, including starting or financing a business. However, if an individual required more than $50,000 for a business, then the Business Acquisition structure is the only solution that will allow one to use their retirement funds to start or finance a business tax-free and without penalty!

To learn more about the advantages of using a Business Acquisition Structure to start or finance a business using retirement funds, please contact a retirement expert at 800-472-0646.

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