Are Coins Allowed in an IRA?

Are coins allowed in IRA

If you are considering adding precious metals to your IRA, several key points should be kept in mind. First and foremost is to ensure they are held in custody by an IRA custodian.

IRS rules restrict individual retirement accounts (IRAs) from investing in collectible assets; however, there are exceptions for gold and silver bullion “held physically in trust by an administrator”. Specifically, your IRA must hold coins or bars with minimum fineness content.


As a coin collector or precious metals investor, your coin storage arrangement matters significantly for tax reasons. How you store them could determine your cost basis and whether capital gains taxes apply when selling them at some point; indeed it should be one of the primary concerns when investing in precious metals via retirement accounts.

The Internal Revenue Service has strict rules regarding how you can hold and store precious metals within an IRA account, with different rules applying depending on whether numismatic or bullion items are held within it. Here’s how it works:

Numismatic Value

When purchasing collectible coins, you are investing both their artistic and collector value as well as precious metal content. Numismatic items tend to hold more numismatic value than bullion items.

Rare gold coins often fetch higher prices than standard silver bullion coins. Their numismatic value is determined by a third party known as an appraiser who evaluates a coin to assess its condition, value and future potential as an investment opportunity. Furthermore, appraisers certify that coins meet certain criteria such as being undamaged.

Numismatic items are generally prohibited from being included in an Individual Retirement Account, though the IRS allows some semi-numismatic coins like proof American Eagle coins in gold and silver to be held within retirement accounts. Bullion bars and rounds that meet minimum fineness standards from an accredited refiner (like COMEX/NYMEX, LBMA or ISO 9000 accredited refiner or assayer) also qualify.

Custodial Rules

The Internal Revenue Service allows individuals to invest their IRAs in various assets, including precious metals such as gold and silver, without incurring taxes and penalties from doing so. However, certain rules must be observed to avoid taxes and penalties, such as personal possession of an IRA asset considered a taxable distribution by the IRS – in one 2015 case Donna McNulty violated this rule when she purchased American Eagle (AE) coins through her IRA and brought them into her home – according to Tax Court ruling.

She accomplished this by engaging a company promoting itself as an “IRA custodian”. They wired her IRA funds directly into Green Hill LLC and sent AE coins directly to her residence where they were kept safe with other personal belongings. However, according to court rulings these coins constituted a taxable distribution even though she did not act as manager or owner of Green Hill LLC.

Heirlooms and Gifted Collections

If you inherit or receive coins as a gift from someone else, the IRS requires an appraisal to determine each coin’s fair market value at the date of their death – this becomes your new cost basis; when selling later on, only any profits over and above your cost basis will incur taxes.

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