Can You Hold ETFs in an IRA?

ETFs offer investors diversification and trading flexibility; however, their fees may eat into your returns.

ETFs boast lower expense ratios than mutual funds, making them an attractive retirement savings choice. ETFs may also reduce taxation upon withdrawal; this depends on your IRA and tax situation.

Expense Ratios

Expense ratios should be an essential consideration when selecting ETFs for your IRA. ETFs tend to have lower expense ratios due to their passive management and ability to more closely follow indexes than mutual funds, making a lasting difference when investing for long-term growth.

ETFs tend to be more tax-efficient than mutual funds because they do not distribute capital gains to investors like mutual funds do (which generate distributions that are taxable in an IRA). Furthermore, ETFs offer greater transparency, so you can monitor which assets make up each fund on an ongoing basis.

As these factors indicate, ETFs could be an ideal investment choice for your retirement account compared to mutual funds. But it is essential to evaluate both your investment goals and tolerance for risk before selecting which investments best meet them. Other investments for your IRA could include stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit and real estate investment trusts (REITs). Each has their own risks and benefits.


ETFs offer investors the ability to build a diversified retirement portfolio at a relatively low cost, and some pay dividends that can be reinvested or withdrawn at any time. Before investing in ETFs for an IRA or other retirement account, investors should carefully research how any distributions from these funds are taxed; usually gains from selling ETF shares are taxed either as ordinary income or long-term capital gains depending upon holding period and fund type (investment trust or master limited partnership), with high income investors potentially subject to additional Medicare tax of 3.8% on net investment income (NII).

To minimize capital gains taxes, investors should select ETFs that focus on broad market segments rather than particular industries or sectors – for instance, Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP) offers exposure to Treasury-Inflation Protected Securities market with an expense ratio of only 0.05% annually.


IRAs provide investors with an advantageous tax-deferred environment in which to save for retirement. Income generated within an IRA grows tax deferred until it’s withdrawn by the investor – leaving Uncle Sam out of the equation until then!

Investors may find ETFs an attractive choice to diversify their IRA portfolio, as they typically offer lower buy-in costs and expense ratios than mutual funds. Furthermore, these passively managed funds tend to track indices more closely while incurring less administrative expenses than mutual funds.

ETFs offer several distinct advantages over mutual funds: They are easily traded throughout the day on stock exchanges and may provide intraday trading opportunities; additionally they typically pay out dividends to investors on a regular basis that can be reinvested back into the fund to boost returns or generate income; they may even feature leveraged ETFs that amp up returns of an index they track; these types of ETFs can make for great IRA picks while remaining more volatile than their non-leveraged counterparts.


ETFs trade on stock exchanges throughout the trading day, making them easier for investors to buy and sell than mutual funds. But this flexibility typically isn’t a concern in an IRA account as these vehicles aren’t meant for active trading.

Investors should remember that liquidity varies with asset type; an ETF with higher volumes tends to have greater liquidity than one with lesser volumes, and its bid-ask spread can fluctuate based on market conditions.

ETFs have become an attractive investment choice in taxable portfolios as they’re designed to minimize capital gains distributions (though Uncle Sam still reaches for them eventually). But their tax efficiency should not be confused with tax immunity–your choices in investing an IRA may depend on your goals and future plans.

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