Can I Use My IRA to Invest in a Startup?

Can I use my IRA to invest in a startup

Many entrepreneurs struggle to start their dream businesses due to lack of capital, but retirement accounts like Traditional or Roth Self-Directed IRAs provide the financial means necessary for future successes.

Investing in startup companies can be highly lucrative for those willing to take a calculated risk, but certain key points should be kept in mind before undertaking such investments.

Self-Directed IRAs

Self-directed IRAs allow investors to use their retirement savings for alternative assets like real estate and precious metals, offering more investment choices than traditional IRAs but potentially greater risks due to lack of information and fraudsters promoting self-directed IRA investments that sometimes list inflated purchase prices as valuation of an asset without actually reflecting its true worth. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s warning against these schemes, self-directed IRA promoters often advertise an asset for sale at what amounts to less than its true worth.

Before investing in a self-directed IRA (SDIRA), it’s crucial to do your due diligence and comply with IRS rules and regulations. SDIRA accounts require a custodian who has been approved by the IRS; some can limit investments to approved securities while others allow more freedom for nontraditional assets – an SDIRA could include owning property through LLC or owning shares directly of a corporation – depending on who manages your account.

Non-Publicly Traded Stocks

Traditional pretax investments available within an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), like stocks, bonds and mutual funds are limited; however, the IRS now permits people to use retirement accounts for financing private startups and crowdfunding opportunities.

To use an IRA to invest in startups, you’ll need a custodian that supports alternative assets. Look for low fees, expertise with small business funding and excellent customer service – Madison Trust is an IRA custodian which supports this form of investing.

Investing your IRA in startups can yield substantial returns; however, you should conduct extensive due diligence and comply with all prohibited transactions rules. When researching this investment opportunity it’s crucial to pay attention to its structure (LLC or C-Corp), whether income is being passed through directly to investors without incurring corporate taxes and whether any Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) occurs – this type of investment requires careful coordination with your custodian.


Use of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) funds for investing in your own business can be an excellent strategy. Unfortunately, traditional pre-tax IRAs won’t be permitted by the IRS to invest directly in it (it would constitute an illegal transaction). There is one exception though – by opening a self-directed IRA you have more freedom and can invest in alternative assets such as private startups which could provide much higher growth potential and be safer alternatives to debt investments.

However, you must perform due diligence to ensure that your IRA doesn’t become involved in an illegal transaction. Furthermore, keep in mind that an IRA cannot invest in businesses in which any disqualified person (spouse, parent, child or grandchild etc) owns more than 49% or holds a directing role and adhere to annual contribution limits and UBTI tax rules.


Investment in small businesses such as restaurants, healthcare startups or tech startups with innovative new product ideas is an excellent way for an IRA to diversify its portfolio and provide financial coverage for fledgling enterprises. But investors must choose their custodian carefully & consider any possible tax implications from such actions before proceeding.

Self-Directed IRAs allow investors to invest in any business – including startups – as long as the rules are followed. One key rule is avoiding investing in businesses owned by you or someone disqualified as more than 50%, including holdings related to family.

Notable requirements of investing IRAs include structuring them as LLCs and properly reporting income received from investments, which is especially crucial if operating businesses are subject to Unrelated Business Income taxes (UBIT). Investors should select an IRA custodian with expertise in alternative assets to reduce per-transaction and per-asset fees charged by some custodians.

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