How is Gold Taxed in an IRA?

Investments in gold coins and bullion may provide a good way to protect against inflation; however, it’s essential to understand how IRAs tax gold.

Physical gold IRA investments are considered collectibles by the IRS and are therefore taxed at 28%; however, there is a statutory exception in place that allows investors to reduce this rate to 25%.

Traditional IRAs

Gold and other precious metals are popular investments for retirement accounts. They serve as an effective hedge against inflation and other forms of financial insecurities; however, investors should understand how tax rules impact these investments to maximize their benefits.

At one time, IRAs did not permit investments in collectibles; however, this changed in 1986 when the IRS permitted investing in US gold and silver coins; further expansion followed in 1998 with bullion with purity levels exceeding 99.5% being accepted as investments. Furthermore, Letter Ruling 200732026 announced that investments made via gold ETFs did not count as collectibles (Letter Ruling 200732026).

Purchases made within an IRA are tax-deductible; however, any withdrawal before age 5912 would be taxed at your current rate due to being funded with pre-tax money. Furthermore, selling physical precious metals outside an IRA will incur capital gains taxes.

Roth IRAs

Gold investments held within an Individual Retirement Account don’t generate income that can be taxed like stocks and bonds do; any gains realized from a precious metals IRA are subject to taxes at your marginal rate upon cashing out, meaning higher-income investors will pay the most taxes when cashing out their investment.

One disadvantage of investing in Precious Metals IRAs is their costs. Each institution may charge one or more fees to set up your account, in addition to annual custodian and storage fees which help manage it and store metals securely with the IRS-approved depository.

Additionally, due to IRS rules on distributions and penalties, taking physical possession of gold and other precious metals in an IRA cannot be done; your custodian will facilitate their transfer when you need to withdraw them from storage.

Self-Directed IRAs

Self-directed IRAs require an intermediary that charges fees for administration and storage services, known as custodians, such as banks, trust companies or another entity approved by the IRS. Your chosen custodian should offer a wide variety of alternatives; ensure it accepts contributions from traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE-IRAs SEP IRAs and 401(k)s alike.

As a general rule, it’s illegal for an IRA-eligible gold and precious metals investment to remain at home or a safe deposit box as this would constitute a prohibited transaction with the IRS. To prevent taxes and penalties being levied against you for keeping these physical metals within an IRA account without official approval from an approved depository like a vault or warehouse, your custodian will arrange to have them sent off to one.

Gains on investments eligible for an IRA-eligible gold investment are taxed at the same rate as regular income. Once you reach age 72, mandatory distributions must begin; otherwise a 50% excise tax may apply.


Gold IRAs can be an advantageous investment for many reasons. They provide diversification and protection against inflation while offering better after-tax returns than traditional paper assets like stocks and bonds. Furthermore, with self-directed IRAs you can avoid expensive custodial and storage services fees.

Investing physical gold in an IRA comes with some special tax considerations. Gold is considered a collectible, so any gains are subject to the maximum collectible tax rate of 28% rather than the standard long-term capital gains tax rate of 15% that applies to most other investments and taxpayers.

IRS has recently relaxed rules to permit Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to invest in precious metals such as gold. Now IRA holders can purchase shares in exchange traded funds (ETFs) that track gold’s value without fear of incurring taxes; the only restriction being physical coins and bullion cannot be stored within an IRA dedicated to precious metals investment.

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