Are self-directed IRAs all that they are built up to be? Let’s consider that question. We’ve all been sold on the idea of IRAs as a wise investment product. Contributions accumulate in value during your working years, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of your labor upon retirement. And they do offer tax benefits to their owners. Sounds great. But when looked at closely, you begin to see the limitations of IRAs.
Understanding the Limitations of Self-directed IRAs
Self-directed IRAs, in particular, are attractive to many people who like the idea of controlling where their money is invested. You can use these accounts to contribute and control your investments in the stocks, funds or bonds of your choosing. When using traditional IRAs, your contributions and capital gains are tax-deferred, allowing more of your money to be used in an investment strategy.
The limitations of these IRAs, however, is in their name – Individual Retirement Accounts. As a financial tool, these accounts are strictly for retirement, and they are regulated by the IRS as such. If you don’t follow their rules, you can lose your tax benefits.
To begin with, the tax benefits of these accounts are limited. Contributions to traditional IRAs are made tax-free, but get taxed upon distribution. Roth IRA contributions go in after tax, but distributions are tax free. Also, if your Adjusted Gross Income is $65K or more (single) or $109K or more (married) then you will receive no deduction on your federal income tax filings for your self-directed IRA contributions. So for those earning more than those amounts, these accounts are hardly a tax relief vehicle and seriously limits their value as an investment product.
The IRS also regulates the contribution amounts, investment use and distribution of these types of accounts. There are limits as to how much you can contribute annually. Currently, if you are younger than 50, $5,000 is your limit. If you are older than 50, you can contribute up to $6,000.
Self-directed IRAs are also limited by what you can use your money for. There is a self-dealing rule, for example, that says you can’t act or benefit on your own behalf as a trustee of your money. Basically, you can’t have any direct or indirect personal involvement or gain from any of your investments. That includes renting a house you bought to a family member. If you used self-directed IRA funds to purchase that house, you can’t even fix the kitchen sink… let alone allow your niece to rent it. These investment limitations are fairly severe.
The same limitations exist when it comes to the distribution of your funds. With few exceptions, you can’t access your funds until you reach the IRS retirement age. If you do so, those funds will be subject to the normal income tax plus a 10% withdrawal penalty.
Offering a Better Way
Dividend paying whole life insurance offers a platform that provides many of the same benefits of an IRA, but without the limitations. In fact, when used as an Infinite Banking System, the cash value growth and tax benefits of these policies go above and beyond most retirement investment strategies.
With a dividend-paying whole life policy that is structured to work as an Infinite Banking System, policyholders will benefit from:
– tax-deferred income growth
– tax-free distributions via policy loans
– tax-free withdrawals up to your basis
– no contribution restrictions, subject to health underwriting
– no income-level restrictions
– a death benefit for beneficiaries
Understanding the Infinite Banking Concept
So what is Infinite Banking? It’s a financial philosophy of being your own bank and its predicated on the tax and investment advantages of a whole life policy. You will fund your account with your premium payments. The insurance company will, in turn, invest a portion of your premiums in very safe financial instruments such as bonds. These will be be diversified by industry, maturity and geography for added investment security.
Gains from these investments will be factored with overall performance of the insurance company. The costs of overhead, mortality (death benefit payouts) and other expenses are subtracted from the gains. What’s left is the excess that can be given back to the policyholders as dividends. Typically, these policies have a guaranteed tax-free growth rate of around 4%.
Through your premium payments and dividend earnings, the cash value within your policy will begin to grow, and that’s where the greatest benefits begin. You get to be your own bank.
When you put money into a traditional financial institution, they will pay you a small amount of interest. When you borrow from that financial institution, they will charge you a greater amount of interest. In the banking industry this is known as the spread, and it’s how financial institutions make their money.
A dividend-paying whole life insurance policy allows you to lend money to yourself using the cash values within your policy. You control these funds and dictate the re-payment terms. That means you set the interest rate, the amortization period and other loan terms. As you pay back the loan, you also pay yourself interest, and collect the spread that would otherwise go to your lending institution. There are no penalties for a late or missed payment. And there are no loan fees or other transaction fees.
You can use these personal loans anyway you want. Finance your car, pay yourself back. Finance your roof, pay yourself back. Finance your business, pay yourself back. You’re in control, not the IRS.
In addition to the income growth opportunities available, there are numerous other benefits to the Infinite Banking Concept. By borrowing money from a properly structured dividend paying whole life insurance policy you can enjoy tax-deferred growth of money, tax-free distributions via policy loans, and an income-tax free death benefit for your heirs.
Who wouldn’t want a place where they can put their money to grow tax-deferred without all the limitations of a self-directed IRA. By using a dividend-paying whole life policy as an Infinite Banking System, you have full liquidity, use and control of your money. Instead of discouraging self-dealing, the Infinite Banking System encourages you to use your funds whenever and wherever you can in your own life.