What is the Difference Between an IRA and a Self Directed IRA?

Self-directed IRAs allow for increased investment flexibility by permitting alternative investments like real estate, private equity and cryptocurrencies. However, these accounts must abide by specific tax rules such as disqualified persons and prohibited transactions which you should be mindful of when managing them.

Traditional IRAs limit your investments to traditional financial products; self directed IRAs enable you to diversify your portfolio by investing in real estate, mortgage notes, limited liability company investments or other assets.


There are various taxes that impact an IRA and self-directed IRA, one being unrelated business income tax (UBTI), which applies when investments generate profits; typically it occurs when investing in real estate, private equity and certain other forms of investments that generate profits.

Unrelated Debt-Financed Income, or UDFI, refers to an income tax imposed on properties owned by an IRA financed using non-recourse loans or credit lines that can only be accessed via non-recourse loans or lines. To avoid paying this tax and file appropriate forms with the IRS.

Self-directed IRAs offer more choices and flexibility than traditional IRAs, yet also pose additional risks. These risks include higher fees and complex recordkeeping responsibilities; some investors may not know how to verify information in their account statements accurately and this leaves them open to fraudsters. Taking precautionary steps against this fraud is paramount to protect your IRA.


Self-directed IRAs allow investors greater investment flexibility and choice, including alternative assets like real estate and precious metals. But these investments typically carry greater risk than their traditional IRA counterparts, have higher fees, are harder to understand, and present increased fraud risks due to lacking regulatory protection and having a more complex tax structure – so be wary when accepting information found on account statements such as prices or asset values provided.

Self-directed IRAs allow investors to invest in alternative assets that could offer higher returns than publicly traded stocks and bonds, such as real estate, promissory notes or tax lien certificates. Investors are responsible for finding, vetting and recording these investments as well as meeting IRS rules and recordkeeping requirements; this process can be time consuming and expensive; when withdrawing they could owe taxes.


Self-directed IRAs allow account holders to invest in alternative assets like real estate, precious metals and cryptocurrencies that aren’t available through traditional Wall Street brokerage firms or banks that limit clients to only their products and charge high fees for time-sensitive transactions like moving an IRA from one company to the other or changing beneficiaries.

Some custodians aren’t clear about their fees, which can quickly accumulate. A lack of industry knowledge may also present issues; for example, failing to thoroughly check financial information regarding alternative investments that might not be publicly traded and may have limited market liquidity or tax ramifications can have serious repercussions – account holders have found themselves paying taxes and penalties due to mistakes on the part of their custodian. A good custodian will always ask relevant questions before charging any fees.


Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) provide investors with access to a selection of investments such as stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Investors choose traditional IRAs due to their tax advantages, contribution limits and ease of use.

Self-directed IRAs provide more investment options, including alternative assets. Diversifying portfolios and taking advantage of market opportunities require diversifying assets; however, alternative investments require additional research and analysis for identification purposes as they tend to be less liquid compared with more conventional assets; selling these investments is more challenging when needed money arrives quickly.

RocketDollar, one of the premier SDIRA custodians, charges an initial setup fee of $360 as well as monthly account management fees of $15 – this could eat into your returns and make beating the market difficult. Care should be taken when reviewing fees and risks before investing; additionally, please read up on IRS rules prohibiting certain activities with your IRA account.

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