Investing in precious metals is a smart way to hedge against inflation and to get a piece of the action in the booming silver market. Many investors are now opening individual retirement accounts (IRAs) just to stash their savings in silver. It's an attractive option because it offers federal tax deferment, just like any IRA or 401(k). But there is a lot of confusion about where you can store silver bullion in an IRA. A common storage option is "home storage." Can you really store Silver IRA at home? The following information should help clear the matter up.
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Is a Home Storage Silver IRA Legal?
According to the Internal Revenue Code, precious metals can only be stored or kept in a "depository." In the case of silver bullion, the depository must be an institution recognized by the IRS. For example, banks and trust companies qualify as depositories for IRA purposes. However, no private residence is considered permissible storage for IRA-held silver bullion.
You may have a home safe or vault specifically made for storing large amounts of metal. Still, it will not qualify as a depository unless you open an account with an institution that the IRS officially recognizes.
Legal Silver IRA Storage Options
The most popular option for storing precious metals in an IRA is to transfer them out of your IRA and store them in a depository recognized for retirement account purposes. This is no different than any other pre-existing IRA account (commonly referred to as a Precious Metals IRA) and it can be opened in any amount you choose.
For example, say you have $10,000 in an existing silver IRA. You can transfer $10,000 worth of qualified silver bullion from your account to a depository that accepts IRAs and keep the remainder in place. This way, you're not violating IRS regulations by storing metal at home.
The second option is to close your existing IRA, open a new one just for the silver bullion, and transfer the metal over. Because of IRS rules, you can only do this if you have $10,000 or more to transfer in total.
The third option is to open a new IRA specifically for the silver bullion and transfer the metal to that account. It is unnecessary to close an existing IRA account to do this, but it does add a step or two for your taxes, so it's probably not worth doing unless you have more than $10,000 in metal.
What Are the Legal Regulations You Should Follow?
According to IRS rules, your IRA cannot actually own silver bullion directly. A depository must hold your metal, which then issues you a digital certificate in your name. This means that, technically, you are the owner of the metal and not the IRA itself. So if you decide to store Silver IRA at home, there are still certain regulations you should follow:
Facts About Silver IRA Storage
Silver IRA storage options should allow you to invest in silver safely and legally, no matter where you live. However, the rules change every year, and certain items are prohibited. Here are a few facts about silver IRA storage:
Are There Penalties for Incorrectly Opening a Home Storage Silver IRA?
You could face severe penalties if your home storage silver IRA is not compliant with IRS rules. The IRS does not recognize any IRA owner (even the account holder) as the actual owner of precious metals in a home safe or vault. To the IRS, the owner is just a custodian or trustee of the metal, not the owner itself. For this reason, you could face severe penalties from the IRS if you incorrectly open a home storage Silver IRA and you're not storing silver bullion properly.
If you store metal at home and remove it for any purpose other than paying for qualified expenses, you will be charged a 10% penalty. Suppose you have an IRA with more than $250,000 in assets (including the value of metals and other metals). In that case, you can take delivery of your metal in person at a depository to avoid this penalty.
Why Choose a Depository for Your IRA?
A depository is needed because IRS rules prohibit IRA accounts from owning precious metals directly. By keeping your metals at a depository, the metal is technically owned by someone else and remains outside of your control. This makes it easier to comply with IRS regulations because it avoids any direct ownership of precious metals. However, this also means that you can't sell your metals or even access them if you want to. It's essentially a digital safe deposit box with some added security, but without the ability to open it yourself.
While the IRS does recognize the value of keeping precious metals in a home safe or vault, they do not recognize depository accounts as an acceptable way to store metal. This is because their rules are set to protect U.S. citizens from being defrauded by metal dealers and other criminals who buy precious metals and then sell them at a discount later, making money but not paying taxes on them.
Suppose you're considering opening a home storage Silver IRA. In that case, you should understand that there are many specific criteria for statutory requirements that it must meet to operate properly. If the rules change in the future, your depository must be able to meet those qualifications as well. The information listed on this page is based on federal laws established by the IRS and state and local laws that govern all depository storage options.
How Do I Open an IRA at a Depository?
You can open a depository account at any federally-insured depository institution (FDIC-insured banks). To get the best rate, you should go through a bank that is licensed by the government and has a solid reputation within your area. You can also open an account and keep your metals in it without ever taking delivery. This is called a "cash" account, and all depository locations offer them to protect clients from potential fraud (the bank actually holds the money).
Some banks call this type of account a "money order" account, but this is not always accurate. A deposit made for you at a depository will be deposited electronically and then credited to your IRA after the bank has accepted the deposit into their records. You can then take delivery of your metals when you open the account or at any time that satisfies the depository company.
How Long Will it Take to Open an IRA With a Depository?
You can open as many IRA accounts as you want with a depository. This depends on how much money you want to invest in silver and how quickly you want to get started. Depository institutions have varying hours of operation, so check the institution's website for more information before visiting their facility. A licensed depository is not obligated to hold your metals at all times, so they can release them elsewhere in their premises if needed. They should also release them quickly if they cannot handle them safely.
If you choose to deposit your metals at a depository, they will normally hold them for no longer than 24 hours. Once you have taken delivery at another location and paid the necessary fees, the depository will hold your metal for six months before releasing it to you for liquidation.
There is an additional 30-day delay in which the depository must transfer metals from the account if you withdraw them for rebating. This is to prevent metals dealers from taking advantage of other IRA owners.
Pros & Cons of Silver IRA Home Storage
What to Do if You Have Already Set Up a Home Storage Silver IRA
If you have already set up a home storage Silver IRA, you should know that the IRS may have to get involved. At this time, there is no way to know whether they have seized your depository, but if this has happened, then it is likely because they are looking for unreported assets such as gold or other precious metals. If this happens, there is nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. The IRS will do whatever it sees fit with your metal, and the legal process will be very slow in that case. Because of this, caution is advised when storing small amounts of precious metals in a home safe or vault.
Home storage Silver IRAs are still a great way to put away some investment funds in a small number of precious metals. You should take as many precautions as possible when depositing your metals to ensure they will remain safe and truly belong to you. In the end, this is the only way to protect your assets from government seizure or confiscation by unscrupulous dealers seeking to profit at your expense.
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