Gold IRA Rules and Regulations

As inflation continues to increase, you may be contemplating diversifying your retirement savings by investing in assets beyond cash, stocks, and bonds. One potential option is to invest in gold and other precious metals through a gold Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Opting for a gold IRA can serve as a prudent strategy to safeguard against inflation while also benefiting from certain tax advantages. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that a gold IRA is subject to specific rules and requirements.

To include gold and other valuable metals in your retirement savings, you’ll need to open a special account called a self-directed IRA unless you already have one.

Self-Directed IRA

Contributions made to a traditional self-directed IRA can be deducted from your taxes. You’ll only need to pay taxes when you withdraw money or precious metals from your IRA.

A self-directed IRA is different from other types of IRAs because it allows you to invest in assets such as real estate and valuable metals. You’re not limited to investing in stocks, bonds, and similar types of paper assets.

In your IRA, you can buy and hold four types of valuable metals:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Palladium

However, there are specific rules about the types of gold and valuable metals that are eligible for investment in a self-directed IRA.  For a more comprehensive page about the process, you should read how to buy gold in an IRA, a page I wrote that outlines this topic even further.

Select a Good IRA-Eligible Gold

To hold gold in an IRA, it is important to select IRA-eligible gold that meets specific requirements outlined by the IRS. When considering gold coins and bullion for your gold IRA, it is advisable to consult with your gold IRA provider for guidance. In general, the gold you choose for your IRA should meet the following criteria:

  • Fineness or purity of 99.5% – IRA-eligible gold must have a high level of purity. This ensures that the gold you hold retains its value over time.
  • Specific coins and bars – Certain gold products are approved for IRAs. Examples of IRA-eligible gold include American Buffalo coins, Australian Kangaroo coins, and Credit Suisse gold bars made at an approved facility. An exception to the purity requirement is American Eagle coins, which are 91.67% pure but can still be held in a gold IRA.
  • Custodial storage – The gold you hold in your IRA must be kept in a secure depository under the custody of an IRA custodian. This ensures the safekeeping and proper management of your gold assets.
  • Government mint or accredited manufacturer – IRA-eligible gold should be produced by a national government mint or an accredited manufacturer. This requirement guarantees the authenticity and quality of the gold.

In addition to these criteria, other precious metals have their purity requirements. For example, silver coins and bars must be 99.9% pure, while platinum and palladium coins and bars must be 99.95% pure. The IRS sets these limits to ensure that investors acquire high-quality metals that maintain their value in the long term.

It’s important to note that there is a caveat regarding graded gold. In certain cases, if gold has been graded by a certified organization like the Professional Coin Grading Service, the IRS may consider it a “collectible.” As a result, such gold cannot be held within a gold IRA.

If you intend to have your gold graded, waiting until after you have liquidated your IRA assets and taken possession of your metals is generally recommended. This approach ensures compliance with IRS regulations and simplifies the process of grading your gold.

Make Sure You Do Not Exceed Your Capacity to Contribute

The regulations governing Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) restrict the maximum amount you can contribute to your account each year. The annual limits for IRA contributions are $6,000 or $7,000 if you are 50 years old or above. The IRS determines these limits on an annual basis.

Ensure Your Gold Is Stored in An Approved Depository Recognized by the IRS

Gold IRA Depository

When managing precious metals within a gold IRA, it is crucial to consider the appropriate storage location. IRS regulations about precious metals prohibit keeping coins and bars at your residence or in a safety deposit box.

Even if you possess IRA-eligible gold and precious metals for just one day, the IRS may interpret it as a distribution, potentially resulting in significant penalties and taxes.

To address this, your gold IRA custodian will arrange to transfer your physical metals to a secure storage facility known as a depository.

You might have the option to select a depository of your choice or follow the recommendation provided by your custodian. Regardless, the facility must be approved by the IRS.

When selecting a depository, consider the following factors:

  • Security measures in place
  • Insurance policies provided by the depository
  • Storage fees associated with your metals (typically charged annually)

The depository assumes responsibility for keeping your gold and precious metals safe until you request your gold IRA custodian to sell or distribute them. Your gold will be securely delivered to your designated home address when you opt for distribution.

Acquire Gold for Your Gold IRA Through a Custodian

It is important to note that you cannot personally add gold or precious metals to your gold IRA, even if you already possess IRA-eligible metals or intend to acquire them for investment purposes.

According to the rules governing precious metals IRAs, you must collaborate with a custodian—a financial institution tasked with safeguarding the assets within your gold IRA.

A custodian facilitates the establishment of a self-directed IRA, oversees the transfer of funds to the precious metals dealer, and manages the transportation and storage of your physical precious metals.

Most gold IRA companies have established relationships with reputable custodians, and as part of their service package, they generally offer these custodial services.

Typically, you will purchase gold and other precious metals using cash already in your account. You can fund a gold IRA through the following methods:

  • Cash deposits: Once the funds are in your IRA, you can utilize them to acquire gold and other precious metals.
  • IRA asset transfers: If you hold assets such as stocks, cash, or gold in another IRA, you can transfer them to a new gold IRA and utilize them to purchase precious metals.
  • Rollovers: If you possess a 401(k) or another retirement account, you can roll over those assets and utilize them to acquire precious metals within your gold IRA.

Not all gold IRA custodians are equal. When selecting a custodian to safeguard your assets, consider the following factors:

  1. Is the custodian approved by the IRS?
  2. Do they impose fees for storage and account management? (Note: Most custodians do charge fees.)
  3. How many years has the custodian been in business?
  4. What level of experience does the staff possess in managing gold IRAs?
  5. Does the custodian have a favorable reputation based on customer reviews?
  6. Does the company hold good ratings with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau?
  7. Does the custodian offer a buyback program, allowing you to sell your gold back to them if you choose to do so?

Hold Your Gold in Your Ira Until You Reach the Age Of 59½

It is advisable to retain your gold in your IRA until you reach the age of 59 ½. The purpose of these accounts is to serve as a long-term investment vehicle specifically designed for holding precious metals such as gold. While there are certain tax advantages associated with a precious metal IRA, it also means that there are restrictions on accessing your gold IRA assets.

According to the IRS regulations, you are not allowed to make any withdrawals from your gold IRA until you reach the age of 59 ½. Once you reach this age, you will be required to pay applicable income taxes on any withdrawals. At this point, you have the option to either liquidate the metals in your account for cash or take physical possession of them without incurring any penalties.

One of the benefits of having a gold IRA is the ability to have direct access to physical gold and other precious metals. This allows you to retain and sell them in the future, exchange them during times of crisis, or pass them on to your beneficiaries.

However, if you need to access your funds before reaching the age of 59 ½, certain penalties may apply, including:

  • A 10% early withdrawal penalty
  • A 28% capital gains tax on any profits if the value of your metals increased while held in your gold IRA

There are specific circumstances where the 10% early withdrawal penalty can be waived, such as in the case of disability or if you are a first-time homebuyer. Another way to avoid the penalty is by setting up annuity payments based on your life expectancy.

Once you reach the age of 72, you will be required to start taking mandatory distributions from your gold IRA. Failure to do so may result in a 50% excise tax for each year that you fail to withdraw the required amount.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that investing in a gold Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can be a valuable strategy to diversify your retirement savings and protect against inflation. However, it is crucial to adhere to the rules and regulations governing gold IRAs. By working with an approved custodian, selecting IRA-eligible gold, storing it in an IRS-approved depository, and following the guidelines for contributions and withdrawals, you can maximize the benefits of a gold IRA and secure your financial future.

Thank you for reading this guide. We hope it has been helpful and informative at the same time. Remember all the practical information we mentioned above. We wish you the best of luck!

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Tim Schmidt


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started IRA Investing to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA for alternative investments. His views on retirement investing have been highlighted in USA Today, Business Insider, Tech Times, and more. He invested with Goldco.