Can an IRA Hold Physical Gold?

Investment of physical gold through an IRA allows its appreciation to remain tax-free; however, it’s essential that you understand any associated risks and costs prior to deciding this route for investment.

Many IRA custodians do not allow investors to invest in physical gold; to do so, you need to establish a self-directed IRA.


Gold has long been seen as an appealing investment option among those seeking diversification, protection against inflation and long-term wealth preservation. Furthermore, it can serve as an attractive IRA alternative by replacing paper investments like ETFs, mutual funds or mining stocks with physical gold investments.

With a self-directed retirement account (SDIRA), you can invest in physical gold coins and bullion bars through a precious metals dealer. Once purchased, an IRS-approved custodian and depository must also be chosen to store your gold; many precious metals dealers and trust companies provide preferred custodians and depositories they recommend or require their clients to use.

Physical gold does not generate income or dividends, but its value appreciates over time. Being an IRA-eligible investment, its gains accrue tax-deferred until withdrawals qualify as qualified withdrawals. Physical gold investments may help diversify an IRA portfolio while keeping you tax-sheltered until withdrawals qualify as qualified withdrawals; but be mindful that precious metal markets can be volatile with no guarantee your gold will increase in value or storage fees will incur (up to 10% if kept at home).


Physical gold and other precious metal investments come with tax repercussions that must be considered when storing and selling them. For instance, the IRS considers any time an IRA-eligible precious metals are moved out of an IRA into personal possession as a distribution and could subject investors to significant taxes and penalties.

Importantly, investors should remember that the IRS only allows certain precious metals into an IRA account and these must meet certain purity standards. Any investment outside of gold and other approved metals could incur fines or lead to disqualification altogether.

Investors should also consider the costs associated with precious metals IRAs, including annual fees, storage and insurance costs. Custodian fees can differ widely among firms so investors should compare multiple offers before selecting one with competitive pricing and an IRA self-direct option.


Physical gold or precious metal IRAs must conform to the same rules as traditional pre-tax and Roth IRAs, including contribution limits and early withdrawal taxes and penalties. But gold IRAs come with additional fees such as custodian and storage charges which raise the bar on how much your metal must appreciate for you to make money from it.

Gold IRAs can provide investors with diversification or protection against inflation, making them attractive investments. But before choosing an IRA dealer and owning physical gold, it’s essential that they understand all fees associated with having one. Be wary of companies offering no IRA fees at all and always request a breakdown. Once this information is in hand, calculate whether its benefits outweigh its costs for you – otherwise look at non-physical options such as ETFs. In addition, check the Better Business Bureau or industry organizations regarding reputation or track records before investing any – or rather consider non-physical options such as exchange traded funds (ETF).


Most IRA custodians do not permit physical ownership of gold in an IRA account, however investors who wish to own precious metals in their IRA must find an account offering self-directed IRAs, which allow investors to control their own investments, but are approved by the IRS as depository accounts for holding coins or bullion.

Investors cannot store IRA gold at home due to IRS restrictions that view such an action as an unlawful distribution that will trigger taxes and penalties if they’re under 59 and half years old. Furthermore, doing so would breach IRA rules which require all gains/losses be reported annually for tax reporting purposes.

IRS rules specify that gold held within an IRA must have 99.5% purity or higher; thus investors who purchase physical gold via their IRAs must pay fees to store it with a depository.

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