Our FAQ section was created so you can see common questions (and their answers) about self directed retirement plans with or without checkbook control, and why we are so confident that CompleteIRA is the right choice to make. Choosing an account type is another page designed to help you find what will serve your needs best among the various kinds of accounts.

We hope you find this very helpful and easy to use. If you are not able to find the answer to your question, please contact us so that we may answer you personally.

The Basics

What is a checkbook controlled retirement account?

It's a tool for putting you in control of your IRA or 401(k) assets.You won't have to ask your custodian to approve an investment, wait for a check to be written and mailed, or pay an annual filing or administration fee for each investment. You'll truly have a self-directed Solo 401(k) or IRA because you'll have a checkbook controlling your retirement dollars in an account owned by and specially created for its benefit.This is often an LLC in the case of IRA accounts, but need not be for a Solo 401(k). The use (or not) of an LLC is something that will vary depending on your needs, and we'll be happy to go over it with you. Using our method you'll save money each year as the custodial charges are much lower this way. An active investor will save thousands (or tens of thousands) over a decade with this approach.

What types of retirement accounts can be moved into a CompleteIRA or Complete Solo 401(k)?

  • Traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs
  • Roth IRAs, 401(k)s
  • 403(b)s, Keoghs
  • Qualified Annuities Profit Sharing Plans
  • Government Eligible Deferred Compensation Plans
  • Coverdell Education Savings (ESA)
  • Money Purchase Plans
...we can handle any of them at all. Even old 'defined benefit' plans are not an issue. Call or email and we can handle getting you the right setup for whatever form your money is in right now. It won't be stuck or idling any longer.

What can I invest in with your Solo 401(k) or IRA plans?

Almost anything. Your IRA or 401k can make nearly any investment you could as long as you stay away from insurance, collectibles, and S-corps. Further, you may not have any "self dealings" without a DOL exemption; which is unlikely and rather expensive. Basically everything else on earth is allowed. Below are just a few ideas:

  • Residential or Commercial Real Estate
  • Horses, Livestock, and other Animals
  • Private Notes and Loans
  • Want to invest in a friend's business?
  • Tax Liens & Certificates
  • Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds
  • Tenant-in-Common Projects
  • Options & Currency Trading
  • Futures Trading
  • Private Placements & IPO's
  • Auto Loans & Leasing
  • Equipment Leasing
  • Accounts Receivable Factoring
  • ??? - What's your idea?

My IRA is small. Can I personally co-invest with it or maybe with my Spouse’s IRA? My brother/sister would like to invest alongside me I know. Is that OK?

It is not a prohibited transaction for you to co-invest with your IRA or your siblings or Spouse's IRA per se. This is too bad as there are formalities that need to be adhered to, and most people who attempt it fail. That spells disaster for their retirement as their entire account is distributed and penalized. ...wiping out a lifetime of savings.Please do NOT co-invest your retirement dollars with personal funds, your spouse, siblings, kids, or anyone that could be considered 'prohibited'. There are much better ways of co-investing than mixing IRA and personal funds. We will gladly assist. Just because it's 'legal' doesn't mean it'll end well. Many try. Few succeed. Don't do it.'...But I heard co-investing or renting to siblings was fine?' We would love to tell people 'yes, do whatever you like'... but it doesn't work. The tax code is large and though there are still folks shouting 'siblings can co-invest' the truth is that they can't really. The IRS has nailed people to the wall over this.If there is one thing you gain from time on our site that separates us from other facilitators it's that we're cautious and treat your money as carefully as we treat our own. Sibling co-investment is a myth. Most facilitators and custodians thought it was allowed for years; but now there is plenty of case law that shows it just isn't safe.Anyone saying otherwise you should not work with. It is one (of few) easy litmus tests in this sector.

What’s this all going to cost me?

A better question is "What's it going to save me?"Think about setting up a real estate closing so that $100,000 of profit could go into a Roth IRA. A savings of $35,000 in taxes from the start and have checkbook control the rest of your life! In another situation, a group of doctors were looking to open a new practice with 20% of the earnings going straight into their Roth accounts without having to worry about income limits or matching funds for employees. 20% of the earnings totally -tax free- forever.That said; these tools are not without an investment. The industry range for this type of account, counting custodial and state filing fees, is about $1,500 to $3,500 (for providers with any real support). There are some places that charge $4,500 or even a percentage of the funds in your account(!).Most of our clients choose the Solo 401(k), which is a fantastic tool. We are very proud of the 401(k) platform we offer. It allows (in most cases) both spouses, business partners, and even children to have self-directed control as part of the same plan at no additional cost. The investment for that kind of plan, including support (which will make, and save, you thousands), is well under $2,000 and $200 a year to keep everything up to date and supported.We are serious about the value we offer, and know its not wasted on our readers that we are one of the only providers of ongoing service willing to publish our fee. We welcome a conversation with you, and the chance to earn your business. We know you have options; and we work hard to make sure we're your best choice.Attorneys, Financial Planners, and CPAs all trust us with their client's needs when they clearly could go with a more basic provider for less. They know the value we add far exceeds our fee. You can too.Call us today to get answers, and get started.

Do you have any presentations or files I can look over?

Yes. Our presentations section has several excellent presentations to look over. The section also has several PDF files available for you to review; including supporting IRS code, and memos with related highlights to Roth owned LLCs.

Real Estate

What can I invest in with your Solo 401(k) or IRA plans?

Almost anything. Your IRA or 401k can make nearly any investment you could as long as you stay away from insurance, collectibles, and S-corps. Further, you may not have any "self dealings" without a DOL exemption; which is unlikely and rather expensive. Basically everything else on earth is allowed. Below are just a few ideas:

  • Residential or Commercial Real Estate
  • Horses, Livestock, and other Animals
  • Private Notes and Loans
  • Want to invest in a friend's business?
  • Tax Liens & Certificates
  • Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds
  • Tenant-in-Common Projects
  • Options & Currency Trading
  • Futures Trading
  • Private Placements & IPO's
  • Auto Loans & Leasing
  • Equipment Leasing
  • Accounts Receivable Factoring
  • ??? - What's your idea?

How does a self-directed Solo 401(k) or IRA invest in physical assets like real estate or aircraft?

IRA/401(k)/403(b)/SEP/SIMPLE/ESA/HSA or MPP accounts can all be moved to a self-directed account allowing all sorts of investment options such as private stock, notes, tax liens, real estate, gold or silver coins, businesses, and more. There are two methods; the custodial IRA and the checkbook controlled.In the custodian approach they charge a fee, usually $100 to $200 per year per investment, and an additional fee of $10 to $50 for each transaction such as sending or receiving a check or document or a blanket percentage of your account fee like a mutual fund. These charges come out of your account automatically; though some custodians allow you to request a bill. If you hold several assets it gets very frustrating and very expensive.As an example: If you want to purchase an option on a piece of land you came across; you would settle on terms with the seller, contact your custodian, request they have an inspection or similar done if warranted. You'd provide the "who" and they'd send the fee. Once completed, you'll be required to send in and have them review the documents. If they approve, they will sign all the paperwork, get copies of said paperwork back to you and have the seller sign too. Upon getting the agreements signed by all parties (the custodian and the seller) they will fund and the deal will be done.As a rule, every time they send or accept anything, or have to file anything, there is a charge and time is consumed. If you are only going to do a single deal or two this is usually worthwhile for the cost savings... but we've had clients switch due to blown paperwork or deals that cost them their desired single deal... so proper control of the funds (by you) is the best option in our opinion if not losing a deal would matter to you.If you're going to be making several such investments, any investment with lots of ongoing checks or paperwork, or any investment that requires quick decision making (such as a tax lien auction, foreclosure sale, or buying bullion from a dealer), you should strongly consider using our method which eliminates all those additional fees and accelerates your ability to act.We create accounts where your funds are ready at hand to invest and use just like your retirement account was a business you ran, or a trust you controlled. Is there an opportunity you want to pursue? Come to terms. Sign the papers. Write a check. Done. No delays and no fees. You'll have to keep records of what you're invested in (instead of the custodian doing it)... not much of a downside. Investors that plan to be involved with their funds almost always migrate to a checkbook controlled method. We can save you (and you can make) a lot more money over time

Why haven’t I heard of self-directed retirement accounts before?

Who would tell you? Your stockbroker?Wall Street will only let you invest in investments that pay them. A bank will suggest CDs while an insurance company will offer you annuities. The traditional investment community has control of over 97% of retirement accounts; and they make their living off those accounts.Why would they let you know of alternatives that wouldn't benefit them? The accounts we create not only enable retirement dollars in real estate and physical metals, but all manner of thing from horses to airplanes (or tax liens or tax deeds or...)

Can I be the property manager of my 401(k) or IRA’s Real Estate?

That depends. With just an ordinary self-directed IRA the answer is no. In fact you can't even change a light bulb on the property. The CompleteIRA structure allows you to perform limited maintenance on the property, advertise for renters, collect and deposit the rent checks, pay the real estate bills, etc.This clearly saves your retirement account a lot of money and helps provide a more comfortable and prosperous future for you. There are limits and things that you can't do, so please talk with us prior to taking action.

Can my $50,000 IRA or old 401(k) buy a $200,000 house?

Just as most people use a loan to get the property they desire, a retirement account is able to get a loan (see our page on the topic for important differences between an IRA and 401(k) in this area).There is no limit to the quantity of properties your account can have loans on at once. No credit checks, no income requirements, and you are leveraging money without risk of one property failing resulting in the loss of another. In a retirement account each property is an island that can not create a debt repayment liability to another (this is very different than when a person typically gets a loan and they are then personally on the hook if the property fails).If $50,000 can secure a house for five or six years that you sell and make $100,000 on you've earned a 200% return that was backed by real property. How does the stock market compare with that?

May I use my 401(k) or IRA funds to make improvements or renovations?

Yes. In fact, you must use retirement funds to make any improvements and pay all expenses associated with the property. All expenses are paid by the retirement account and all profits made belong to it. This makes sense because it's a retirement account investment.

Can I buy vacation property with my 401(k) or IRA money?

Yes. Doing so would not constitute a prohibited transaction. However, you cannot vacation there. You must rent it out to other people until such time as you are retired and can take the home as a distribution.Anything your retirement account purchases must be an investment, and not something to benefit you now or in the future.In practice as long as the purchase is a legitimate investment, if you choose to distribute the property and decide to keep it at retirement there is no reason to expect it to be faulted.

Can I buy my dream home with my Solo 401(k) or IRA now, and then live in it when I retire?

Yes. You would use your retirement money to make the purchase and maintain the property. Any rents generated would be returned to the account. Upon reaching retirement age the property could be distributed to you. Please review the prior question as the same caveat applies.

I heard I can do three flips each year without UBIT in my retirement account.

Though that's a statement, not a question, I get the implication.Here's the straight scoop:  No one can tell you any number of flips is safe anymore.  We wish we could.  Uncertainty is bad for business and it let's less ethical folks say high numbers and we can't say they're technically wrong.This is the situation:  It used to be thanks to court rulings we could say three deals was safe, and that five deals was too many (and would trigger UBIT on all five deals; not just the last two).  Then some of us wanted to get clarity from the IRS on the size of deal allowed (would this work on million dollar deals?) and how they felt about four deals.  Bad. Plan.The IRS decided to let us all know that we should no longer look to that case law but that they'd decide on a case-by-case basis moving forward.  ...so basically 'Do the deals you want and we'll tell you if you owe taxes on it or not.'  Lovely.There is an upside though.... we've seen people doing five deals with no UBIT at all.  We've also seen them pick and choose deals from a given year to tax (and leave the others alone).  And we've not seen any 'used to be safe' situations that have triggered the tax under the new approach.So though we don't like the lack of definition to operate under, it seems that they are being very fair about what is just sound investing with your retirement account and what is more of a operating business.

Precious Metals

What can I invest in with your Solo 401(k) or IRA plans?

Almost anything. Your IRA or 401k can make nearly any investment you could as long as you stay away from insurance, collectibles, and S-corps. Further, you may not have any "self dealings" without a DOL exemption; which is unlikely and rather expensive. Basically everything else on earth is allowed. Below are just a few ideas:

  • Residential or Commercial Real Estate
  • Horses, Livestock, and other Animals
  • Private Notes and Loans
  • Want to invest in a friend's business?
  • Tax Liens & Certificates
  • Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds
  • Tenant-in-Common Projects
  • Options & Currency Trading
  • Futures Trading
  • Private Placements & IPO's
  • Auto Loans & Leasing
  • Equipment Leasing
  • Accounts Receivable Factoring
  • ??? - What's your idea?

How does a self-directed Solo 401(k) or IRA invest in physical assets like real estate or aircraft?

IRA/401(k)/403(b)/SEP/SIMPLE/ESA/HSA or MPP accounts can all be moved to a self-directed account allowing all sorts of investment options such as private stock, notes, tax liens, real estate, gold or silver coins, businesses, and more. There are two methods; the custodial IRA and the checkbook controlled.In the custodian approach they charge a fee, usually $100 to $200 per year per investment, and an additional fee of $10 to $50 for each transaction such as sending or receiving a check or document or a blanket percentage of your account fee like a mutual fund. These charges come out of your account automatically; though some custodians allow you to request a bill. If you hold several assets it gets very frustrating and very expensive.As an example: If you want to purchase an option on a piece of land you came across; you would settle on terms with the seller, contact your custodian, request they have an inspection or similar done if warranted. You'd provide the "who" and they'd send the fee. Once completed, you'll be required to send in and have them review the documents. If they approve, they will sign all the paperwork, get copies of said paperwork back to you and have the seller sign too. Upon getting the agreements signed by all parties (the custodian and the seller) they will fund and the deal will be done.As a rule, every time they send or accept anything, or have to file anything, there is a charge and time is consumed. If you are only going to do a single deal or two this is usually worthwhile for the cost savings... but we've had clients switch due to blown paperwork or deals that cost them their desired single deal... so proper control of the funds (by you) is the best option in our opinion if not losing a deal would matter to you.If you're going to be making several such investments, any investment with lots of ongoing checks or paperwork, or any investment that requires quick decision making (such as a tax lien auction, foreclosure sale, or buying bullion from a dealer), you should strongly consider using our method which eliminates all those additional fees and accelerates your ability to act.We create accounts where your funds are ready at hand to invest and use just like your retirement account was a business you ran, or a trust you controlled. Is there an opportunity you want to pursue? Come to terms. Sign the papers. Write a check. Done. No delays and no fees. You'll have to keep records of what you're invested in (instead of the custodian doing it)... not much of a downside. Investors that plan to be involved with their funds almost always migrate to a checkbook controlled method. We can save you (and you can make) a lot more money over time

Why haven’t I heard of self-directed retirement accounts before?

Who would tell you? Your stockbroker?Wall Street will only let you invest in investments that pay them. A bank will suggest CDs while an insurance company will offer you annuities. The traditional investment community has control of over 97% of retirement accounts; and they make their living off those accounts.Why would they let you know of alternatives that wouldn't benefit them? The accounts we create not only enable retirement dollars in real estate and physical metals, but all manner of thing from horses to airplanes (or tax liens or tax deeds or...)

Contributions

Can I share a Solo 401k with my spouse?

Yes. The ability for a married couple to easily both be a part of a Solo 401k is a popular one. If you each have your own small business? Just one plan. If only one of you brings in any self employment income? Still just one plan (and yes, both of you can be in it and make contributions).In any event, each person's money stays that person's money even if it gets mixed together to make given investments just as if it was in two different accounts.There are some crazy hiccups in state laws and IRS rulings that have blurred things in some situations and cause different information to be thought and stated by various firms. The basics look like this: - In 'community property' states contributions for each spouse will be simple. - In other states (and just to be super sure if you like), making an election under 761f for your tax return will seal the deal.

Husband’s funds, Wife’s funds, some Traditional, some Roth… How can it all be invested together? What does that look like accounting-wise?

Great question! Let's take this in pieces:- First, yes, all those funds can be 'co-invested' as you see fit. That means any person can put any amount of any type of money in an investment with anyone else in the plan.This is because the only real investor in the asset is the plan itself. The internal accounting of the plan is the only place it breaks down to the individual and type.- Second, the amounts and kinds can change over time. If the investment requires additional capital that can be done pro-rata, or it can be done differently than the first time. We recommend against 'adding new money' to a given investment though; it just requires extra care and evaluation expense that could be avoided by funding once, or funding pro-rata.- Third, ALL these types of funds can be in one single account. If you work for a large company, you know they don't really have 100,000 different accounts to cover each person in their plan. They have one account and a spreadsheet (well, a glorified spreadsheet).The same is true for your Solo 401k. Your Roth and Traditional money, along with that of others in your plan can be all together if you want and then just use Excel to track what money belongs to whom and what kind it is (we'll give you a spreadsheet to help). If you'd rather use a yellow pad or quickbooks that's fine too. Some folks even keep different accounts just because it makes them more comfortable. Whatever (accurate) solution you like best will be fine.

I have more than one company… can all those be tied to one self directed plan?

Yes. That's no problem. Connecting and including the income from various small businesses you own is a common and straightforward task we're glad to assist clients with.

Any ‘Gotcha’ issues I should know about making contributions?

The big issue for Solo 401k owners to keep in mind is that plan contributions are 'global'.This means that if you put 10k into a 'day job' 401k, and they match another 5k, then you need to subtract 10k from what you can put into your Solo 401k for the year and subtract 5k from what sum of you can contribute as matching / profit sharing into your Solo 401k as well.

I’m a Sole Proprietor and my spouse is an employee (not a partner). What does that change?

That's interesting because you're now removing the implied co-ownership aspect that 761f election or a 'community property' state grants automatically.This becomes a 'hairy mess' in some ways, and changes nothing in others.We're going to back away slowly from this one and suggest that if you want your spouse in the plan that they should either have some equity in the business, or not be an employee. In either of those situations they can almost always be in the plan without effort and contribute based off the earnings as you two decide from the company's income.

When do my Solo 401k contributions have to be in? I haven’t finished my taxes in December.

There are some good reasons to have your taxes wrapped up as best as you can in that tax year... but Solo 401k contributions aren't one of them.Your personal contributions for the year must be in by Dec 31 to be super safe if you're a sole proprietor or in a partnership. Your company match / profit sharing contributions aren't due in until you file your return if you're a corporation....and now the 'real life' answer...Because it's not in the code one way or the other; a great number of sole proprietor and partnerships make their Roth and Traditional contributions (both personal and company) anytime before filing their final return, just like corporations. We've never seen a single case of this being considered an issue, and are comfortable with that approach ourselves, but it isn't in the code. Anyone saying 'it's bad' or 'it's good' is oversimplifying.(Honesty may be the best policy; but sometimes it's annoying.)

Can my company match change annually?

U2 had a song 'Some days are better than others.' Years are that way too.Changing the company's contribution percentage to the plan on a year-to-year basis is not an issue; though usually that's not really needed because if you have plenty you contribute more, and if not, less. So it doesn't often need fiddled with even if your income changes... but it's still your plan to adjust as you see fit.

Liability

Can my IRA co-invest with friends?

Yes... Sometimes. IRAs (or 401ks) may hold interests in various investments with other retirement accounts, businesses, or individuals. It is important to be aware who is a prohibited party to your retirement account, as those people can't co-invest with it. If they aren't a prohibited party co-investing could be fine.Usually co-investing with friends is fine. The issues related tend to be tied to employer/employee relationships and if there is other business deals between them. We review these situations for our clients (at no cost) to help make sure things look good.

Can I move my plan to a new company? What if I shut my company down?

If your business changes names, or you change businesses... it matters not to your Solo 401k.Just email or call us and let us know and we'll quickly update your plan documents accordingly and the change shall be made. Easy.There's no reason to have to get a new plan or pay a fee just because your business grew, changed structures, because a whole different business, or even shut down entirely. Your plan can easily adapt to the new income source. No worries.

Are my Solo 401k assets technically my company’s assets?

Great question.  Nope. Never. Not a chance.That is a really important point on a couple levels:
  • It'd be no fun to have to pay taxes on what the plan earned.
  • It'd be no fun if a company liability had the ability to impact your retirement savings.
Bottomline:  Retirement plan assets belong to the plan only, and not to your company in any way, life is good, and the Solo 401k is an excellent place to put money.

What about liability protections? Any difference between the IRA and 401k?

This is a tricky matter because laws change and a given court's attitude toward what the law says can be rather wide in scope.  Noting our site disclaimer; here are our thoughts:
  • IRAs and Solo 401ks are treated equal to each other for liability to third-party judgements.
  • Both are quite strong against outside parties (not spouses) being able to do much... but they've been breached in over a dozen states total so they aren't bulletproof.
  • If lawsuits were a concern we'd use an LLC or trust inside the 401k... properly done even if the retirement account was hit for a sum (even from a ex-spouse), they couldn't get cash or assets sold.  Just a slip that basically says "Once money does come out, you get paid first." ...this is very unattractive to their attorney who wants money now.  That's good for you.  ...this also means you can leave the money in there to grow and grow until you want it; greatly reducing the damage such a judgement could have on your retirement's quality.
Tools for this type of structure we provide our clients upon request at no charge.

How the heck do I know which expenses the plan should really pay?

It seems simple at first glance: "The plan pays for expenses related to its assets or acquiring such assets."...but what happens when you take a trip just to see homes for purchase by your 401k and you pay an lawyer to work a sale that you don't end up being able to do in the plan... but that you could outside of the plan?- Should the plan cover your travel expenses? Food? - Should you repay the plan the legal time?It can be hard. Unclear IRS and DOL guidance make it harder. ...and that neither of those organizations seems super concerned with clarity or agreement with the other makes many of us want to pull out our hair (and disagree on what's the best approach for you the client).First - If you have a Solo 401k (instead of an IRA), you're so very much safer. Do what you think is most reasonable, document it, and move on. If they really want to you to fix it later you can with minimal hassle or expense. This is the exact opposite of working with an IRA.Second - Though anything for the plan the plan should pay for in general; that does not extend to things that can be construed to benefit you. Your hotel, your food, your travel... all of those things should be your own dime.Put it this way, if you can fill in 'Fiji' and not raise eyebrows you're ok. If it would raise eyebrows, don't reimburse yourself for it.For example: 'I went to an auction out of state to buy property and billed my retirement account for everything it cost me.' Now we put it through our test: 'I went to an auction in Fiji to buy property and billed my retirement account for everything it cost me.'...see? It's easy.Here's another: 'I spent a ton of time and money learning about tax deeds, which are new to me but seem great. Anyway, since it's for retirement I billed all the books and courses to my retirement account.' This becomes: 'I spent a ton of time and money learning about Fiji, which is new to me but seems great. Anyway, since it's for retirement I billed all the books and courses to my retirement account.'Now for a passing one: 'My retirement account is looking to buy assets in BK sales, so I hired some legal research done on them and had my retirement account pay the bill.' That harmlessly (though interestingly) reads as: 'My retirement account is looking to buy assets in Fiji, so I hired some legal research done on them and had my retirement account pay the bill.'If this reminds you of a better way to read fortune cookies I haven't the least idea why.

Can my $50,000 IRA or old 401(k) buy a $200,000 house?

Just as most people use a loan to get the property they desire, a retirement account is able to get a loan (see our page on the topic for important differences between an IRA and 401(k) in this area).There is no limit to the quantity of properties your account can have loans on at once. No credit checks, no income requirements, and you are leveraging money without risk of one property failing resulting in the loss of another. In a retirement account each property is an island that can not create a debt repayment liability to another (this is very different than when a person typically gets a loan and they are then personally on the hook if the property fails).If $50,000 can secure a house for five or six years that you sell and make $100,000 on you've earned a 200% return that was backed by real property. How does the stock market compare with that?

Is this legal? How can I know?

Yes it is. You may reference the IRS website directly at www.irs.gov. We've taken some relevant highlights from publications 560 and 590 and made them available near the bottom of our supporting documents section.The IRS is neither for (nor against) using your retirement funds in alternative investments. Just as they are neither for (nor against) stocks and bonds.The valuable tool of self directing your retirement account, even controlling an LLC inside of it, has over two decades of legal precedent to support it. If you'd like, we will email you some such case documents.

Taxation, Filing Dates, and other ‘Exciting Stuff’

What types of retirement accounts can be moved into a CompleteIRA or Complete Solo 401(k)?

  • Traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs
  • Roth IRAs, 401(k)s
  • 403(b)s, Keoghs
  • Qualified Annuities Profit Sharing Plans
  • Government Eligible Deferred Compensation Plans
  • Coverdell Education Savings (ESA)
  • Money Purchase Plans
...we can handle any of them at all. Even old 'defined benefit' plans are not an issue. Call or email and we can handle getting you the right setup for whatever form your money is in right now. It won't be stuck or idling any longer.

Can I share a Solo 401k with my spouse?

Yes. The ability for a married couple to easily both be a part of a Solo 401k is a popular one. If you each have your own small business? Just one plan. If only one of you brings in any self employment income? Still just one plan (and yes, both of you can be in it and make contributions).In any event, each person's money stays that person's money even if it gets mixed together to make given investments just as if it was in two different accounts.There are some crazy hiccups in state laws and IRS rulings that have blurred things in some situations and cause different information to be thought and stated by various firms. The basics look like this: - In 'community property' states contributions for each spouse will be simple. - In other states (and just to be super sure if you like), making an election under 761f for your tax return will seal the deal.

Husband’s funds, Wife’s funds, some Traditional, some Roth… How can it all be invested together? What does that look like accounting-wise?

Great question! Let's take this in pieces:- First, yes, all those funds can be 'co-invested' as you see fit. That means any person can put any amount of any type of money in an investment with anyone else in the plan.This is because the only real investor in the asset is the plan itself. The internal accounting of the plan is the only place it breaks down to the individual and type.- Second, the amounts and kinds can change over time. If the investment requires additional capital that can be done pro-rata, or it can be done differently than the first time. We recommend against 'adding new money' to a given investment though; it just requires extra care and evaluation expense that could be avoided by funding once, or funding pro-rata.- Third, ALL these types of funds can be in one single account. If you work for a large company, you know they don't really have 100,000 different accounts to cover each person in their plan. They have one account and a spreadsheet (well, a glorified spreadsheet).The same is true for your Solo 401k. Your Roth and Traditional money, along with that of others in your plan can be all together if you want and then just use Excel to track what money belongs to whom and what kind it is (we'll give you a spreadsheet to help). If you'd rather use a yellow pad or quickbooks that's fine too. Some folks even keep different accounts just because it makes them more comfortable. Whatever (accurate) solution you like best will be fine.

Can my IRA co-invest with friends?

Yes... Sometimes. IRAs (or 401ks) may hold interests in various investments with other retirement accounts, businesses, or individuals. It is important to be aware who is a prohibited party to your retirement account, as those people can't co-invest with it. If they aren't a prohibited party co-investing could be fine.Usually co-investing with friends is fine. The issues related tend to be tied to employer/employee relationships and if there is other business deals between them. We review these situations for our clients (at no cost) to help make sure things look good.

Can I move my plan to a new company? What if I shut my company down?

If your business changes names, or you change businesses... it matters not to your Solo 401k.Just email or call us and let us know and we'll quickly update your plan documents accordingly and the change shall be made. Easy.There's no reason to have to get a new plan or pay a fee just because your business grew, changed structures, because a whole different business, or even shut down entirely. Your plan can easily adapt to the new income source. No worries.

I have more than one company… can all those be tied to one self directed plan?

Yes. That's no problem. Connecting and including the income from various small businesses you own is a common and straightforward task we're glad to assist clients with.

Any ‘Gotcha’ issues I should know about making contributions?

The big issue for Solo 401k owners to keep in mind is that plan contributions are 'global'.This means that if you put 10k into a 'day job' 401k, and they match another 5k, then you need to subtract 10k from what you can put into your Solo 401k for the year and subtract 5k from what sum of you can contribute as matching / profit sharing into your Solo 401k as well.

What kind of accounting or record keeping does a Solo 401k require?

Thinkin' ahead. That's good.The paperwork for your Solo 401k accounting and record keeping is very basic. You can use a ledger, an excel spreadsheet, QuickBooks, or even a yellow legal pad if you like. Whatever works for you.The records kept will include the date, amount, the participants involved (and how much Traditional or Roth from each) and of course what the money bought (or is revenue from in the case of inbound money).If the plan (not a given participant, but the plan) has more than $250,000 in assets then a very simple 5500EZ will be filed each year. Its literally the simplest reporting form we've ever seen. We'll be happy to help you or your tax preparer handle it and give you a sample one to 'study'.

Why haven’t I heard of self-directed retirement accounts before?

Who would tell you? Your stockbroker?Wall Street will only let you invest in investments that pay them. A bank will suggest CDs while an insurance company will offer you annuities. The traditional investment community has control of over 97% of retirement accounts; and they make their living off those accounts.Why would they let you know of alternatives that wouldn't benefit them? The accounts we create not only enable retirement dollars in real estate and physical metals, but all manner of thing from horses to airplanes (or tax liens or tax deeds or...)

I’m a Sole Proprietor and my spouse is an employee (not a partner). What does that change?

That's interesting because you're now removing the implied co-ownership aspect that 761f election or a 'community property' state grants automatically.This becomes a 'hairy mess' in some ways, and changes nothing in others.We're going to back away slowly from this one and suggest that if you want your spouse in the plan that they should either have some equity in the business, or not be an employee. In either of those situations they can almost always be in the plan without effort and contribute based off the earnings as you two decide from the company's income.

My business doesn’t always make money… does that matter?

How long a business can run a loss and still be a business?  There is a (rebuttable) presumption that if it loses money three out of five years, it's not a business. But even given this; if it is being run in a business like manner and the loss is due to retirement contributions going into the plan, it could probably go on in perpetuity.The key point here is that even if the lemonade stand has a few low income years; still make the contributions even if they pushed its return into the red.  Running your business like a business (even a very small one) is the key, and accounting losses due to retirement account contributions are not remotely the same as those from the 'entertainment' and 'travel' categories.

Can I convert Traditional contributions to Roth inside my 401k any time I’m willing to pay the taxes?

At the end of 2012 Solo 401k plans gained the ability to convert employer contributions from Traditional to Roth anytime you wish.You can now convert old employer contributions to the Roth side of your Solo 401k anytime you want. No more 'distribution windows' to think about. If you've rolled over an old 401k and have employer funds that you wanted to convert to Roth; now you can.You can also do a partial conversion... so convert what you want to for this tax year, and do more (or less) in any future year unless as much of the money is Roth as you want.

When do my Solo 401k contributions have to be in? I haven’t finished my taxes in December.

There are some good reasons to have your taxes wrapped up as best as you can in that tax year... but Solo 401k contributions aren't one of them.Your personal contributions for the year must be in by Dec 31 to be super safe if you're a sole proprietor or in a partnership. Your company match / profit sharing contributions aren't due in until you file your return if you're a corporation....and now the 'real life' answer...Because it's not in the code one way or the other; a great number of sole proprietor and partnerships make their Roth and Traditional contributions (both personal and company) anytime before filing their final return, just like corporations. We've never seen a single case of this being considered an issue, and are comfortable with that approach ourselves, but it isn't in the code. Anyone saying 'it's bad' or 'it's good' is oversimplifying.(Honesty may be the best policy; but sometimes it's annoying.)

The Solo 401k is tax deductible to setup. The IRA isn’t. …right?

Without giving personal tax advice... the above is a true story.That is just a small perk to the Solo 401k.  The deduction can vary based on your situation; but usually at least the first $600 of expense is deductible and often more over future years.In some situations we've seen it cover the full fee.

How the heck do I know which expenses the plan should really pay?

It seems simple at first glance: "The plan pays for expenses related to its assets or acquiring such assets."...but what happens when you take a trip just to see homes for purchase by your 401k and you pay an lawyer to work a sale that you don't end up being able to do in the plan... but that you could outside of the plan?- Should the plan cover your travel expenses? Food? - Should you repay the plan the legal time?It can be hard. Unclear IRS and DOL guidance make it harder. ...and that neither of those organizations seems super concerned with clarity or agreement with the other makes many of us want to pull out our hair (and disagree on what's the best approach for you the client).First - If you have a Solo 401k (instead of an IRA), you're so very much safer. Do what you think is most reasonable, document it, and move on. If they really want to you to fix it later you can with minimal hassle or expense. This is the exact opposite of working with an IRA.Second - Though anything for the plan the plan should pay for in general; that does not extend to things that can be construed to benefit you. Your hotel, your food, your travel... all of those things should be your own dime.Put it this way, if you can fill in 'Fiji' and not raise eyebrows you're ok. If it would raise eyebrows, don't reimburse yourself for it.For example: 'I went to an auction out of state to buy property and billed my retirement account for everything it cost me.' Now we put it through our test: 'I went to an auction in Fiji to buy property and billed my retirement account for everything it cost me.'...see? It's easy.Here's another: 'I spent a ton of time and money learning about tax deeds, which are new to me but seem great. Anyway, since it's for retirement I billed all the books and courses to my retirement account.' This becomes: 'I spent a ton of time and money learning about Fiji, which is new to me but seems great. Anyway, since it's for retirement I billed all the books and courses to my retirement account.'Now for a passing one: 'My retirement account is looking to buy assets in BK sales, so I hired some legal research done on them and had my retirement account pay the bill.' That harmlessly (though interestingly) reads as: 'My retirement account is looking to buy assets in Fiji, so I hired some legal research done on them and had my retirement account pay the bill.'If this reminds you of a better way to read fortune cookies I haven't the least idea why.

I heard I can do three flips each year without UBIT in my retirement account.

Though that's a statement, not a question, I get the implication.Here's the straight scoop:  No one can tell you any number of flips is safe anymore.  We wish we could.  Uncertainty is bad for business and it let's less ethical folks say high numbers and we can't say they're technically wrong.This is the situation:  It used to be thanks to court rulings we could say three deals was safe, and that five deals was too many (and would trigger UBIT on all five deals; not just the last two).  Then some of us wanted to get clarity from the IRS on the size of deal allowed (would this work on million dollar deals?) and how they felt about four deals.  Bad. Plan.The IRS decided to let us all know that we should no longer look to that case law but that they'd decide on a case-by-case basis moving forward.  ...so basically 'Do the deals you want and we'll tell you if you owe taxes on it or not.'  Lovely.There is an upside though.... we've seen people doing five deals with no UBIT at all.  We've also seen them pick and choose deals from a given year to tax (and leave the others alone).  And we've not seen any 'used to be safe' situations that have triggered the tax under the new approach.So though we don't like the lack of definition to operate under, it seems that they are being very fair about what is just sound investing with your retirement account and what is more of a operating business.

Is this legal? How can I know?

Yes it is. You may reference the IRS website directly at www.irs.gov. We've taken some relevant highlights from publications 560 and 590 and made them available near the bottom of our supporting documents section.The IRS is neither for (nor against) using your retirement funds in alternative investments. Just as they are neither for (nor against) stocks and bonds.The valuable tool of self directing your retirement account, even controlling an LLC inside of it, has over two decades of legal precedent to support it. If you'd like, we will email you some such case documents.

We’re the only firm that offers both basic and checkbook controlled self-directed accounts; in both Solo 401(k) and IRA options. Our interests are aligned with yours. Instead of trying to figure out how to get a square peg in a round hole, we offer the option of a round peg.

Our pricing is fair and reasonable. Our support, flexibility, and knowledge base set us apart from the crowd and will both save you money and help you make more of it.

Call us today to invest in your future; on your terms.