Can I Use My IRA to Invest in a Startup?

Entrepreneurs frequently struggle with raising enough capital to start or buy a business, so one strategy may be using retirement funds. This strategy comes with numerous rules and restrictions, so it is advised that they consult a financial advisor first before moving forward with this strategy.

IRAs provide potential tax benefits, yet aren’t suitable for every investment. Here, we will explore ways an IRA could be utilized as part of business startup efforts.

Rollovers as Business Startups (ROBS)

Rollovers as Business Startups (ROBS) provide a way for retirees to use retirement funds for starting up new businesses using funds they already possess in retirement accounts. Although similar to self-directed IRAs, the ROBS process differs in several key respects – it requires C corporations and can take longer due to compliance regulations.

This method of financing is ideal for entrepreneurs who are confident that they can expand their businesses without jeopardizing personal savings, thereby avoiding debt and excessively high interest rates.

An integral component of any successful ROBS is having access to an experienced provider that can set up the necessary structures and comply with IRS regulations. There are various such providers out there; it’s important to select one with a strong reputation who provides comprehensive services at a fair cost like Pango Financial which provides end-to-end funding packages at competitive rates.

Self-directed IRAs

Peter Thiel’s controversial use of his Roth IRA to invest in PayPal caused headlines. Some praised it as an intelligent choice while others accused him of abusing a tax-deferred account that should provide middle-class Americans with secure retirements.

Ordinary investors can now leverage technology and use their IRAs to invest in private startups and alternative assets such as securitized art, farmland and real estate through self-directed IRAs. Such investments carry their own risks; it is wise to research them carefully prior to investing. Also important is verifying information in self-directed IRA statements because certain illiquid and difficult-to-value investments exist.

Companies such as AltoIRA(opens in a new tab), IRAR and Republic have helped break down some of the barriers for ordinary investors who wish to invest in startup companies or other alternative assets with their IRAs, but ultimately each individual investor must find and vet deals, ensure compliance with Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations and seek professional guidance as required.


Self-employed workers unable to rely on employer retirement plans or traditional and Roth IRAs due to contribution limits can turn to SEP IRAs as an alternative solution. These plans are easy to set up, flexible, and have higher contribution limits than individual retirement accounts.

Employees manage their own SEP IRA investments within limits set by a trustee of their SEP IRA plan. The trustee determines eligible investments, provides annual statements to participants, and files IRS forms.

Contribution limits depend on the total compensation paid out during each tax year; this can include wages, self-employment income and other amounts that are considered personal income and are taxed as such. Employers must contribute up to 25% of each participant’s compensation – up to a maximum limit of $66,000 in 2023).

Similar to traditional and Roth IRAs, distributions must start by age 73 in order to avoid incurring a 10% penalty. Financial institutions or trustees responsible for participants’ SEP-IRA accounts report contributions and fair market values on Form 5498: IRA Contribution Information.

Roth IRAs

Recently, it’s become easier for retirement accounts to invest in private companies. Before making this type of investment, however, it is essential that you understand all the rules and regulations of an IRA account as well as work with an experienced tax professional to avoid incurring prohibited transactions.

Roth IRAs provide the flexibility needed to fund various small businesses – including start-ups and real estate ventures – as an easy way to diversify your portfolio and take advantage of opportunities not readily available through stock trading.

Investment through a Roth IRA in a startup company can be beneficial, providing it with cash without incurring taxes. But you must take care that this transaction does not constitute an unlawful act and does not breach state or federal regulations.

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