Investing in real estate inside an IRA comes with strict rules. Complication number one: Owning property in an IRA negates all the familiar tax benefits of owning investment real estate, says James Lange, a CPA and financial planner in Pittsburgh. You can’t deduct property taxes or mortgage interest or take advantage of depreciation.
Aggravation number two: There’s a long list of prohibited transactions. You and your relatives are barred from occupying or working on the property, so forget free rent or “sweat equity.” The IRA, not you, owns the place, so if you’re considering a rental property, you’ll need a property manager to find tenants. Every dollar you invest in the property, plus expenses such as roof and furnace repairs, must come out of the IRA. Flout any rule and it’s a Catastrophe: The tax-deferred status of your entire IRA is ruined, and you’ll owe income taxes on the full value of the IRA’s assets, plus a 10% penalty if you’re younger than 59½.
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