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45 Precious Metals IRA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Written by retirement account experts Pat Collins and John Halloran.

Table of contents

1. What is a Precious Metals IRA?

A precious metals IRA is a Self-Directed individual retirement account that can hold physical gold, silver, platinum, and palladium at an Internal Revenue Service-approved depository.

2. What is the Difference Between a Self-Directed IRA and a Traditional IRA?

A Self-Directed IRA allows you to purchase alternative investment vehicles including real estate and precious metals. Most traditional IRAs limit your portfolio to paper assets like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and money market accounts.

3. What if I Already Have a Self-Directed IRA?

Depending on your custodian, you’re most likely allowed to own gold bullion coins or bars. Check out this list of Gold IRA Custodians to confirm if your current trust company allows investing in precious metals.

4. What Types of Metal Can I Hold in My Self-Directed IRA?

Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium coins and bars that meet IRS purity requirements.

5. Can I Hold Collectible Coins?

The IRS rules do not permit you to invest in PCGS graded coins in IRAs. The only collectible coins allowed in an IRA account are American Eagle proofs issued by the U.S. Mint.

6. Can I Deposit Gold and Silver Coins I Already Own into an IRA?

No. Precious metal in your physical possession cannot be deposited into your retirement account.

7. Can I Invest in Gold and Silver Bullion in My Roth IRA Account?

Yes. Certain gold and silver coins and bars are qualified for Self-Directed Roth accounts.

8. What Parties are Involved in Setting Up Physical Gold IRAs?

A trust company (IRA custodian) to ensure you are IRS compliant. A depository to safely store and insure your precious metals. And a gold IRA company to handle your buy and sell transactions.

9. Where Can I Find a List of Gold & Silver IRA Custodians?

The Certified Gold Exchange has created the following comprehensive Guide to Gold IRA Custodians

10. What are the Fees to Set Up a Self-Directed IRA?

It depends on the trust company you choose. But typically, there is a one-time set-up fee. A nominal buy/sell transaction fee. An annual custodial fee. And a storage and insurance fee. We recommend considering a trust company with a flat rate storage fee because it’s more cost-effective. Some will charge a sliding scale based on the value of your assets which can be very expensive.

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11. Are The Fees to Set Up a Precious Metal IRA Tax Deductible?

Yes, as long as you itemize your tax returns.

12. How Do I Open a Self-Directed IRA?

Opening a new IRA is as simple as completing a basic application. Your chosen precious metals supplier will guide you through the process.

13. Can I Roll Over My Current 401k, 403b, 457b, or TSP to a Gold IRA?

You can only move funds if you qualify for an “in-service” withdrawal, which permits you to transfer a portion of your assets while still employed by the company that sponsors your retirement plan. Typically this option becomes available when you reach 59.5 years of age. Some investment plan sponsors don’t have an age limit, so contact them to confirm your options.

14. Can I Roll Over an Old Inactive 401k, 403b, 457b, or TSP to a Gold IRA?

Yes. Call 800-300-0715 to get started.

15. How Do I Roll Over My 401k, 403b, 457b, or TSP to a Gold IRA?

Once you’ve established your Self-Directed IRA, you simply call your investment plan provider and verbally initiate the rollover. They will then send a check to your new custodian or to you to forward to them. The best gold IRA companies will walk you through the entire process.

16. Can I Do a Partial Transfer from My Current IRA Account to a Gold IRA?

Yes. Self-Directed IRA accounts are just that, Self-Directed. You alone choose how much to transfer.

17. Can I Make Annual Contributions to My Self-Directed Precious Metals IRA?

Yes. Contribution limits are the same for all IRAs. In 2021, you can contribute $6,000 per year to an IRA account, or $7,000 if you’re over 50 years of age. Once you reach 72, you can no longer contribute to a non-Roth account.

18. Are My Precious Metals Real or Paper Certificates?

The Certified Gold Exchange only deals in 100% real gold and silver bullion products.

19. Should I Store My Precious Metal With a Government-Run Depository or Outside of the U.S.?

We always suggest precious metals held in US-based retirement accounts are stored domestically with a depository in compliance with Internal Revenue Code IRC-408n. CGE recommends investors avoid government-controlled storage facilities, including mints.

20. Why Does CGE Prefer Delaware Depository for Safekeeping My IRA Metals?

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21. Can I Trust “Best Gold IRA Company” Review Websites?

Not normally. Most websites that “review” gold IRA companies are paid to do so. They are most likely an affiliate that will recommend precious metals dealers that compensate them 3-6% of your gross account value for having done so.

22. What About Companies That Offer “FREE” or “No Fee” Precious Metal IRAs? 

There is no such thing as a “FREE” or “No Fee” Self-Directed retirement account. The gold company that’s offering the promotion is paying the fees on your account. They can do so because they over-charge for their metals. You always pay much more than you need to if you fall prey to free promotions.

23. What’s the Difference Between a Primary and Contingent Beneficiary?

A primary beneficiary is first in line to inherit your account should you pass away. A contingent beneficiary would be next in line to inherit the account should both you and the primary pass away simultaneously.

24. Does My Spouse Have to be My Primary Beneficiary?

Only if you live in one of the following community property states. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.

25. If I Live in a Community Property State, Can I Still Make Someone Other Than My Spouse My Primary Beneficiary?

Yes. Your spouse would need to waive their rights by signing a release on the application.

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26. Can I Have a Trust as My Precious Metals IRA Beneficiary?

Yes.

27. What is the Interested Party Option on My Precious Metals IRA Application?

This designation allows a 3rd party, such as your metals dealer, to speak with the IRA custodian on your behalf. It is safe and effective because it permits them to obtain information about your account but DOES NOT authorize them to invest or sell without your approved permission.

28. What is the Designated Representative Option on My Precious Metals IRA Application?

This designation authorizes a Power Of Attorney on your account. DO NOT give this authority to a precious metals dealer. In certain circumstances, an attorney, CPA, or family member may be issued a POA. If you’re working with a precious metals dealer that is requesting you assign them as a Designated Representative, call us at once at 1-800-300-0715.

29. What Is a Buy/Sell Spread?

The “spread” is the difference between what a precious metals dealer will buy and sell an item for. The buy/sell spread is how a gold and silver dealer makes their money.

30. How Do I Buy Precious Metals for My Self-Directed IRA?

Simply contact your gold company of choice and complete an Investment Direction. This document will outline your purchase and per-unit cost. Calling CGE to confirm your buying at the lowest price saves investors an average of $1288 for every $10,000 invested and takes less than 2 minutes.

31. Why can’t I buy precious metals for the spot price?

The spot price is an indicator of per-ounce cost for 1000 ounce bars on the COMEX without delivery. When the U.S. or Canadian Mints purchase gold and silver blanks, they pay a mark-up above the spot price. They then test the metal and manufacture their branded products which they sell to authorized dealers. The dealers will then set a buy/sell spread and release the coins to the public.

32. Can I Store My Precious Metal at Home?

No. Your gold, silver, platinum or palladium, coins or bars must be stored at an IRS-approved, non-bank trustee to avoid self-dealing regulations.

33. What’s the Difference Between Commingled and Segregated Storage?

Segregated storage is when you hold your precious metals in a private safety deposit box at the depository. Commingled storage is when your metal is stored in your custodians’ segregated section of the vault but commingled with other customers’ metals.

34.  What Is The Additional Cost for Segregated Storage? 

Segregated storage typically costs an additional 50 dollars per year and is only available for gold.

35. Can I Track My Account Value Online? 

Yes, your custodians’ website will allow you to monitor and track your account in real-time.

36. How Do The Custodians Value My Metal?

Self-Directed custodians use one of the three methodologies to determine the value of your account.

  • The melt-down spot price of the weight of each bar or coin. 
  • They ask the client to provide fair market value.
  • They receive a third-party depository or website pricing.

37. Why Does My Account Value Differ From The Actual Buyback?

Most precious metals coins are more valuable than the spot price. Your custodian is most likely only providing you with the melt-down valuation and not taking any buyback premium into account when valuing your assets. To get the highest current liquidation value for your metals, contact the Certified Gold Exchange.

38. How Do I Sell The Gold Or Silver in My IRA?

You simply contact your gold company to execute an Investment Direction form that allows you to purchase as well as liquidate the metals in your IRA account.

39. How Do I Take My Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) From My Precious Metals IRA?

You can sell the metals and take a cash RMD, or you can take an “in-kind” distribution. “In-kind” is when you receive gold and silver at home to cover the amount of your RMD.

40. How Can I Avoid Overpaying for My Precious Metals?

Avoid the following:

  • Conservative spokesperson endorsements
  • Free silver & gold coins promotions
  • Dealers willing to pay your custodian fees
  • Buying obscure coins
  • TV commercials with celebrities
  • Expensive NRA or NASCAR type endorsements
  • Gold companies in Los Angeles and the surrounding area

41. What is an Obscure Coin and Why Should I Avoid Them? 

An obscure coin is any coin that you were unfamiliar with before the dealer mentioned it to you. They are more difficult to price check and are how Los Angeles gold companies hide their enormous spreads. Always call us to check the price of obscure coins before signing a gold IRA investment direction form.

42. Can I Pay Less By Purchasing Directly with Certified Gold Exchange?

Yes, on our minimum order of $50,000 or more. We search the nation for the lowest prevailing price of the day on your preferred items, and then we beat it. You get an email with the lowest-priced search results before committing to your purchase.

43. How To Save: Can I Call The Certified Gold Exchange For Help, Even If I Am Buying Under the Minimum?

Absolutely, we are here to help the public make a safe gold or silver investment for any amount. We will find the best pricing for you on both sides of the transaction and for any amount. We can also guarantee you’re dealing with a reputable gold investment company, no matter how much metal you’re buying or selling.

44. How Has Gold And Silver Performed Versus The Stock Market?

Precious metals have been allowed in IRAs since August of 1997. Since that time: 

  • Gold has averaged 18.71% per year.   
  • Silver has averaged 17.59% per year.
  • DJIA has averaged 13.12% per year.

These figures were updated on October 4th. 

Source: 

45. The Most Important Question: How Do I Find A Reputable Precious Metals Dealer?

Three stand-up firms have been in business for more than 20 years without a single client complaint. Contact us at 1-800-300-0715, and we’ll provide you with their names and contact information. CGE is one of them.

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