Gold IRA Rules and Regulations

Updated October 2022

Investing in an individual retirement account comes with many benefits that are mostly tax-related. The different types of IRAs available allow eligible investors to enjoy reduced taxes depending on the type of investment made. As such, it is no surprise that the Internal Revenue Service has several strict regulations that specifically apply to the IRA accounts. The rules apply to various aspects such as contributions limits to the retirement accounts, storage of the precious metals IRA invested in, and types of assets that can be included in the investor’s portfolio along with other gold IRA rules and regulations, which we will look at in this article.

Types of IRAs include:

Roth: This retirement account offers one of the best tax reliefs for earnings and withdrawals.

Self-directed: The self-directed IRAs are like traditional and Roth accounts, but they allow investors to widen their portfolios by getting into real estate and precious metal investments. Gold IRA investment falls under the self-directed IRA category.

Traditional: With this option, you cannot pay taxes as you invest, but your profits are taxed as you withdraw your retirement funds.

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees: This investment is like 401k, but with the advantage of having lower contribution limits and administrative costs.

Simplified Employee Pension: This is a traditional IRA, ideal for self-employed individuals or employers wanting to create retirement plans for their employees.

Non-deductible: This is one of the employer retirement plans that is used by those who exceed the IRA income limits. It does not have the same tax conditions as traditional IRAs, but it has tax-deferment on earnings.

In most cases, the term gold IRA refers to a self-directed retirement account that has one of the four precious metals allowed by the IRS. Other types of retirement plans are inherited, individual 401k, and rollover IRA.

 IRS rules on precious metals in self-directed IRA

Before the Taxpayer Relief Act came to be in 1997, precious metals were not allowed in the individually directed account. The Act brought about a huge relief, but the investors interested in the retirement vehicle still need to know the existing internal revenue codes.

Start by knowing the types of precious metals that can be purchased by individual retirement accounts, such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium.

It is also important that the account owners understand the diverse assets that can be held in any of those accounts. They are typically created and run by brokers or dealers that are authorized to buy, store and sell the physical possession in the accounts. You can also seek tax advice from a financial advisor to help you make an informed decision.

When you come to take out a gold ira, whichever one of the best gold ira companies reviewed by myself that you choose to use, or any gold ira company for that matter, should inform you of the rules and regulations laid out in this article. If they are not forward in giving you this information, I would highly recommend you question why are they holding this information from you?

Precious metals allowed in gold IRA

Not all precious metals are included in an own gold IRA. Specific coins and bullions that qualify for such accounts must meet the minimum fineness purity standards and must belong in the collectable category. Metals from the United States mint director or those from approved foreign

mints are also allowed.

Typically, the internal revenue code allows physical gold with 24 karats, but the American gold coins with 22 karats purity are given an exception.

Other physical precious metals like silver, platinum, and palladium are also accepted in bullion form, with silver coins requiring at least 99.9% purity, while palladium and platinum should be 99.95%.

gold coins allowed in gold IRA


Some of the specifications of gold include having reeded edges, inscriptions of the year of minting, specific designs, and coins having distinct weight and size in terms of diameters. Below are some examples.

  • American Gold Eagle Coins
  • Australian Nugget and Gold Philharmonic Coins
  • Chinese Gold Panda Coins
  • American Gold Buffalo Coins
  • Canadian Gold Maple Leaf Coins
  • Gold bars and rounds by an approved national government mint. Must meet minimum fineness purity standards.

Other approved precious metals you can invest in your new gold IRA include:


The design of silver coins includes having a symbol of liberty on the obverse side and an eagle on the reverse side. The coins should also have reeded edges, inscriptions of the minting year, specific words like ‘Liberty’, contain 0.999 pure silver, and a fixed diameter and weight. They must be from a known national government mint. Examples include:

  • Chinese Panda Coins
  • Mexican Libertad Coins
  • American Eagle Proof Coins
  • Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coins
  • Australian Kookaburra Coins
  • Australian Philharmonic Coins
  • Silver coins and bars that are produced by an approved refinery or government mint


Examples are:

  • Canadian maple leaf coins
  • Bars and rounds by an approved mint or refinery


Platinum coins must also meet the specified physical appearance qualities and design. Common ones used in platinum IRA are:

  • American Eagles
  • Isle of Man Coins
  • Australian Koala Coins
  • American Eagle Proof Coins
  • Canadian Maple Leaf Coins
  • Rounds and bars from approved refineries and mints

 IRS regulations on IRA contribution limits

Gold IRA rules and regulations stipulate that you fund the account via a cheque or rollover transfer. You cannot buy physical gold and silver, or other precious metals and send them to the account administrator. If you use a rollover transfer, you must use an account with similar retirement plans.

As the IRA owner, you must also check the yearly contribution limits you qualify for. The amount is currently $5000, with an additional $1,000 after 50 years.  There are tax penalties for taking gold, silver, platinum, or palladium in the form of a contribution. Taking physical possession of gold bullion leads to payment of an income tax that is determined by the value of the metal at the time of withdrawal. Early distributions will result in an additional 10% tax penalty, depending on the value. The IRS can also look into 28% capital gains of profits from the original price of the IRA holdings.

IRA storage rules by the IRS

The IRS also has guidelines for precious metals that IRAs and the IRA custodian has to ensure are followed. The role that custodians play in self-directed IRAs is crucial because the account owner is never allowed to possess precious metals at any point. If found to be in physical possession of the assets, you will face the tax penalties imposed by the IRS because the assets will then be distributed.

Gold IRA rules state that the account administrator receives the precious metals before submitting them to an IRS-approved depository. The account owner can choose the offsite location for the storage or agree with the one the IRA custodian recommends, especially if they already have a working relationship. The precious metals will remain in that storage until you order the administrator to sell or distribute them. If you opt for distribution, the assets will be sent to your location address.

The IRA-approved depositories are specially equipped to hold the metals, especially those from self-directed IRA. As such, they charge fees that come directly from your IRA funds. They will keep the metals safe until you decide what to do with them. Your gold investments will be kept with other clients’ valuables, but you can ask for separate storage for your precious metals, though that will come at a higher cost.

Gold IRA account administrator rules 

The administrator you choose to handle your gold IRA accounts must be approved by the internal revenue service. It can be a bank, an insurance company, or a retirement company. Not all administrators have the expertise required to handle gold IRAs. You must, therefore, do your due diligence and find out if the one you hire can. Some of them may ask you to open a new IRA account as a self-directed type.

Never buy silver or other precious metals with your IRA funds. All transactions must be done by the account custodian after you give the directives. The administrator also handles the insurance and shipping of the precious metals.

Tax rules on gold IRA withdrawals 

Traditional IRA

Although these investment vehicles are tax-deductible, you will be required to pay taxes when you withdraw from them.

The funds you take from the gold IRAs account will be added to your gross income for that year, which will be under regular income tax instead of capital gains tax. If a withdrawal is done before the age of 59½ years, a 10% penalty will be deducted.

However, the penalty is usually inapplicable when the funds are used to pay for medical bills or get a medical insurance cover, specifically by unemployed people. Tax penalty exemption is also applicable when the money is used to purchase the first home.

Alternatively, investors can avoid the penalty by setting up annuity based on life expectancy. That means taking distributions from the age of 70½, failure to which a 50% excise tax on the amount not withdrawn each year applies.

Roth IRA

The Roth accounts are not tax-deductible, but withdrawals are usually tax-free. Penalties are imposed under specific circumstances, such as when the distribution is done on an account that is less than 5 years or before 59½ years.

Some exceptions that apply to the traditional or Roth IRA can lead to a waiver of penalties on withdrawals by less than 59½ year-olds.

Inherited IRA

Account IRA owners that pass away are not expected to pay taxes, including penalties, on any remaining balance. The beneficiaries of the retirement savings will have to cater to the pending expenses using the money they withdraw from the inherited IRA. The inherited Roth IRAs remain tax-free even in such accounts.

If the gold IRA owner dies before 59½ years, the 10% penalty will not be deducted, but withdrawals before 5 years will still attract penalties. Spacing out withdrawals from an inherited IRA to reduce the tax burden is allowed, but it cannot exceed 5 years. However, you can qualify for a longer duration depending on several factors such as:

  • Your age
  • How you are related to the deceased
  • The age of the account owner at the time of their demise
  • The age of the oldest beneficiary
  • Whether one of the beneficiaries is an entity

Other than distribution, you can always cash in the precious metals held before the withdrawal. In case of a direct withdrawal, the tax will depend on the current market value of the specific precious metal. You can seek financial advice from your accountant or a tax advisor who is conversant with the gold IRAs tax rules and regulations.

Ira tax penalty exceptions

The 10% penalty charges before 59 ½ years or early withdrawal can be avoided in case:

  • There is a disability of the gold IRA owner
  • There is a medical emergency, and there are no funds to cover the medical bill or insurance
  • The owner passes away, and the beneficiaries need to access the funds
  • The account owner loses their job and can no longer pay for insurance
  • There is a need for urgent funds for the education of an immediate family member
  • The owner wanted to purchase a tangible personal property like a first-time home. It can be up to $10,000.

Ira age limits

Unlike exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and other paper assets, gold IRA investing should not be withdrawn by people under the age of 59½. When you reach 70 years, your taking out distributions and withdrawals will be mandatory.

Special expenses in gold IRAs

Having gold and silver IRA or any other precious metal in an individual retirement account involves catering to some special costs that include:

Retirement account setup: This is a fee charged once to create a gold IRA investment account. The exact amount varies with every institution, but most of them charge more than the cost of setting up a regular investment account.

Seller’s fee: Market gold prices generally guide sellers, but the difference comes from the specific type of gold being dealt with, whether it is proofs, bullion, or coins. The markups will also differ according to the vendor, but it is a one-time fee.

Administrator fees: Every other retirement account must pay custodian fees, but the charges on a gold IRA tend to be higher. If you choose an institution that does not handle your investments, you will pay more than someone with one custodian handling all investment accounts.

Cash-out fees: If you decide to sell your gold IRA to a third-party dealer, you may end up paying less than the market rates. Therefore, it is better to wait until market prices increase significantly before attempting to sell to a third-party dealer.

Storage fees: The depository you use will ask for an amount to cater to the expenses of keeping the gold and silver, together with other precious metals, safe.


Investing in gold IRAs is one of the best alternative investments to diversify your portfolio through a reliable retirement savings plan, but that does not take away the risks, such as possible price reduction. The physical gold can also be stolen, and some unreliable custodians may take advantage of investors by charging hidden fees. However, it is still one of the most stable assets with high growth potential.

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