What are the Differences between a Self-Directed Roth IRA and a Roth 401(k)?

A Self-Directed Roth IRA and a Roth 401(k) have some similarities. With both types of accounts, you make your contributions after you have paid the taxes on them. And, when you reach the age of 59 ½, you can take out your earnings without paying additional taxes.

But aside from a few parallels, there are significant differences between the two. While you are allowed to have both a Self-Directed Roth IRA and a Roth 401(k) at the same time, your employer must offer a Roth 401(k) for you to participate.

Take a look at some of the other differences so you can decide which plan works best for you:

Contribution and income limits

Whether it’s a Roth or traditional 401(k), the contribution limits are much higher than the IRA. In 2019, employees will be allowed to save up to $19,000 for the year. Workers over 50 may save up to $25,000. There are no income limits for the 401(k).

Roth and Traditional IRA contributions are limited to $6,000 or the amount of earned income, whichever is less. Those over 50 may set aside $7,000. There are income limitations, however, on Self-Directed Roth IRA contributions for 2019. If your modified adjusted gross income is $203,000 or more for married couples filing jointly or $137,000 or more for single filers, you are not allowed to contribute.

Distributions are handled differently

A Self-Directed Roth IRA account can continue forever, and there are no required minimum distributions as with Traditional IRAs. The Roth can also be passed along through generations, and it continues to accumulate free earnings for each generation.

A Roth 401(k) is treated differently.  Distributions from a Roth 401(k) account must begin by age 70 ½ or when the account holder retires, whichever comes later. If you want to continue getting tax-free savings, rolling over to a Self-Directed Roth IRA is an option to consider.

Withdrawals from both the Self-Directed Roth IRA and the Roth 401(k) are tax-free as long as the accounts were held for at least five years, the distributions were made because of disability or death, or the account holder has reached the age of 59 ½.

Also, with a Self-Directed Roth IRA, you are allowed to withdraw up to $10,000 to buy or build a first home, without paying taxes and the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, even if you are under age 59½.

Your employer can match your Roth 401(k) contributions

In addition to having higher contribution limits than Self-Directed Roth IRAs, the Roth 401(k) has another distinct advantage: Your employer can match any contributions you make up to a certain percentage. It’s free money from your employer that’s on top of your elective deferrals.

One caveat: Your employer’s match will be deposited into a traditional 401(k). Since you never receive the employer’s match, it cannot be completed on an after-tax basis. For that reason, the company match must be applied to a traditional 401(k).

You will have more investment options in a Roth IRA

Employees generally have little or no control over the investment choices that an employer’s Roth 401(k) plan offers. And those options are minimal most of the time. Those who hold a Self-Directed Roth IRA, on the other hand, will have greater control and more investment opportunities from which to choose.

And when retirement savers open a Self-Directed Roth IRA, they give themselves a virtually unlimited selection that includes alternative assets such as real estate, precious metals, private stock, and private lending.

Remember, even if you have a 401(k) plan through your employer, you may open and contribute to a Roth or traditional Self-Directed IRA.  Interested in learning more about Self-Directed IRAs, download our free e-guide.  Contact American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472) or visit us online at www.AmericanIRA.com.

What Are the Benefits of a Self-Directed IRA in the Form of a Roth IRA?

If you’ve heard the term “Roth IRA,” then you definitely aren’t the first. The Roth IRA has become one of the most popular ways to invest for retirement, and it’s constantly touted on the financial radio shows and advice columns as a great way to build a nest egg. But if you’re interested in a Self-Directed IRA, does that preclude you from using a Roth IRA? How does it all work?

You’ll be glad to know that if you’re interested in both a Self-Directed IRA and a Roth IRA, you can have them both in the form of a Self-Directed Roth IRA. This kind of retirement account affords you plenty of benefits as well as flexibility for building your retirement future–as long as you know how to use it properly. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and advantages to using a retirement account of this type–as well as how to get the most out of them:

Yes, a Self-Directed IRA Can Be a Roth IRA

Some people, particularly new investors, hear a term like “Self-Directed IRA” and assume that it’s a completely different type of account. But really, a Roth IRA can be a self-directed account. This is vital to understand if you want to realize the benefits of the Roth IRA while also choosing your own financial destiny–you’d be surprised at how many people don’t realize that you can accomplish both things at once.

But what exactly are those Roth IRA benefits we’re talking about? Here are a few:

Tax Benefits with the Roth IRA

The most obvious advantages to a Roth IRA are the tax benefits. Your investments within a Roth IRA can be exempt from income tax as long as the proper requirements are met–and the requirements aren’t quite as stingy as you might think.

For example, in order for your Roth IRA tax benefits to kick in, you have to hold it for only five years (assuming you’re already 59 years or older, as these are retirement accounts we’re talking about). This means you can make an investment when you’re 60, you can then withdraw money from a Roth IRA without penalties at age 65. (If, however, you are still younger than 59 when those five years have passed, you’ll still have to wait until you reach retirement age).


In a Self-Directed Roth IRA, you can continue making contributions even beyond the age of 70, which is an advantage if you’re taking advantage of this type of account at retirement age. These benefits don’t only help young people save more money that they can then use in retirement age after a long period has passed, but they help an older generation who will need access to their retirement money sooner rather than later.


It’s important to understand that a Roth IRA is not a license to do whatever you want with investments. There are limits, for example, to the amount of contributions you can make to a Roth IRA every single year. There are also limits about when you can take out withdrawals, as mentioned here. Be sure to remember those limits in this kind of Self-Directed IRA, as you’ll find that knowing those limits helps you to best take advantage of your account in the way that optimizes your portfolio.

If you want to learn about specific account types when using a Self-Directed IRA, be sure to keep reading AmericanIRA.com. You can also get in touch with us at 1-866-7500-IRA(472) to learn more.

The Roth IRA Advantage – Tips for Self-Directed IRA Owners

Roth IRAThe Roth IRA, under current law, is a terrific deal – especially for younger investors: You put money in now on an after-tax basis. Your account grows tax-free for as long as you leave the money in there. There’s no income tax, no dividend tax and no capital gains tax on anything left in a Roth IRA for at least five years. And when you take the money out, distributions are tax-free.

Furthermore, Roth IRAs, unlike tax-deferred traditional IRAs, 401(k)s and other tax-deferred investment or savings vehicles, are not subject to required minimum distributions in retirement. That’s great news for self-directed IRA owners who have large, illiquid and indivisible investments within their IRAs or other self-directed retirement accounts.

The Roth IRA, in short, is a terrific home for assets you can hold until retirement age or longer. Here are some advantages – especially for younger investors.

  • Your employer doesn’t control it. The IRA is a personal asset. You own and control your own IRA. Your employer cannot set limits on how you access or use the money. For example, some employers will restrict access to 401(k) funds for in-service workers. Some prohibit in-service withdrawals outright. You have to abide by the plan sponsor’s rules, and those may not be in your interest.
  • IRAs allow you to make penalty-free emergency withdrawals. In the case of a Roth IRA, if you’ve left the money alone in your account for five years, you will owe income taxes only on the investment gain, not on your original contribution (since you already paid taxes on it). You will not owe a penalty if you make the withdrawals for certain emergency expenses:
    • You are deceased
    • You’re disabled
    • You are using the money to fund educational expenses for you or a family member
    • You are a first-time home buyer making a down payment on a house for yourself or a loved one (up to $10,000)
    • You are using the money to pay medical insurance premiums or avoid getting foreclosed on or evicted.
  • There are important advantages to heirs who inherit a Roth IRA as opposed to assets outside of an IRA. For example, your heirs can take advantage of a “stretch IRA” strategy, in which the IRA can continue to grow tax-free throughout the life expectancy of your heir, provided your heir continues to make required withdrawals.
  • You aren’t committed. You can make a contribution this year and skip next year with no penalty.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iraexpert” hidden_hashtags=”#RothIRA”]The Roth IRA, in short, is a terrific home for assets you can hold…[/tweetthis]

Legislative Risk

Roth IRAAt the beginning of this article, we wrote that the Roth IRA is a great deal under current law. But the reality is that the tax benefits of tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals are all in the future, while you will have already paid tax on dollars you contribute to an IRA this year. In effect, the government has pledged to pay you Tuesday for its hamburger today… but it has no obligation to do so.

What the government giveth, the government can take away. It is possible that Congress will eliminate, limit or means-test the tax benefits of the Roth IRA in the future. However, this is speculation. Under current law, the Roth IRA is a great deal for anyone who wants the tax-free growth available under the Roth IRA banner, and who expects to be in a higher tax bracket when they retire than they are in, currently.

Do you need some help choosing between a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA or other investment vehicle? Call American IRA, LLC at 866-7500-IRA (472). Or visit us at www.americanira.com. We are among America’s premier administrators of self-directed retirement accounts, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you.





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5 Factors of the Self-Directed Roth IRA Conversion Decision Process

Traditional IRA | Roth IRADeciding whether one should convert assets from a traditional retirement account to a Self-Directed Roth IRA is an important task, and in order to make a reasonable and educated decision, many factors must be taken into consideration. Still it is well worth the consideration since the account will grow tax-free forever after it is converted to a Roth IRA.

The following are only five of the many factors that should be taken into consideration.

1.     Current vs. Future Tax Rates

Many economists and tax professionals who have analyzed factors such as the historical changes in tax rates, the events that either cause or predict increases in tax rates, and the national debt, agree that significant increases in tax rates in future years is inevitable. Individuals who agree with these experts may feel that it is a smart tax move to convert to a Self-Directed Roth IRA now when tax rates are lower, rather than keeping assets in a Traditional IRA where they would be taxed at a higher rate when withdrawn later.

2.     Retirement Horizon

One of the factors to consider when deciding about whether a Self-Directed Roth IRA makes good tax sense is whether you will have sufficient time to accrue enough tax-free earnings that would, at a minimum, offset the tax-related cost of converting amounts to a Roth IRA.

Example: Assume that you convert $100,000 in pre-tax amounts from your Traditional IRA to your Roth IRA, and you owe income tax of $28,000 on the amount. This $28,000 will have to be taken from your retirement account or other sources, which means $28,000 that is no longer available for investing in your retirement nest egg.

A Roth conversion analysis would take the number of years you have until retirement into consideration, so as to determine whether the tax-free earnings that could be accrued during that time is sufficient to make the conversion worthwhile.

3.     Your Beneficiaries and Who You Want to Pay The Income Tax

If you will be leaving your retirement savings to a charity, a Traditional IRA may be a better choice since the charity will not owe income tax on the amount. On the other hand, if your beneficiary is someone like your spouse or child, converting the amount to a Self-Directed Roth IRA could allow him or her to inherit the amount tax-free.

4.     Source of Income Tax Payment

Generally, you are required to pay the income due on a Roth conversion by your tax filing deadline. If you do not have the amount available in non-retirement saving accounts, then the income tax can be paid from the conversion amount. If you choose to pay the income tax from the conversion amount, only the net amount would be converted, which means the income tax amount would not be available for tax-free growth in the Roth IRA.

Example: Assume you convert $100,000 and elect to have $20,000 withheld for federal income tax. Only $80,000 would be converted to your Roth IRA, with $20,000 remitted to the IRS as an income tax payment on your behalf.

A Roth conversion analysis would help to make a reasonable determination of whether a conversion would make sense in such cases.

5.    Investment Vehicles and Rate of Return

A critical component of a Self-Directed Roth IRA conversion analysis is the rate of return on your investments. If your investment portfolio includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments that do not offer a guaranteed rate of return, then the rate of return is based on assumptions and speculations. On the other hand, if your conversion amount is invested in a product that provides a guaranteed rate of return (such as an annuity), you might get a more realistic determination of the comparison between converting and not converting to a Roth IRA.

These are just a few of the many factors that should be taken into consideration, and what might apply to one person might not apply to another. As such, the Self-Directed Roth IRA conversion decision is often based on a customized Roth profile. Further, whether an outcome is considered favorable can be a matter of personal preference.


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Self-directed Roth IRA

Why he chose a Self-Directed Roth IRA

In August of 2005, DiStock_000016639234_ExtraSmallavid G., one of our clients, opened a self-directed Roth IRA. He’d heard about self-directed IRAs through a seminar that I did. The reason he opened a self-directed Roth IRA is because he wanted an account that grows tax-free and allows for future distributions that are tax-free forever.

The one thing that you’ve got to understand about a Roth is that once it’s qualified, it’s tax-free forever.

Direct non-taxable transfer from his Roth IRA to his self-directed Roth IRA

He funded his Roth IRA with a direct non-taxable transfer. Many people say “is there any consequence to me transferring from my current provider to a self-direct account? What is sometimes overlooked is that they’re the same account.”

We have the same job as the securities industry, except we allow you to invest in different types of assets, as opposed to just securities. These are non-taxable transfers from two previously established Roth IRAs in the amount of $6,800; $3,800 and $3,000. That was his funding for the account.

Yes, David G. began with only $6,800 and yet in 5 short years, he grew his self-directed Roth IRA to $293,000! Many people believe that they don’t have enough money to start a self-directed Roth IRA…David G.’s success is proof positive that great success can come even with a small account. This article covers his 1st deal!

David G.’s first purchase with his self-directed Roth IRA

In January 2007, David G. found an oversized residential lot with water, sewer, a phenomenal view of the mountains, and a separate deed for each of its two separate parcels, for sale. It was listed for $18,900 and David knew the market value was $31,000.

How does $6,800 turn into $18,900?

David G. obtained the additional funds he needed by partnering with his wife’s Roth IRA. I know…you are thinking: “Hold on! His wife is a prohibited person!” You are absolutely correct; however, you can partner with prohibited people so long as you do so at the time of acquisition. If you don’t have a large account, you can still do a transaction by partnering with someone else.

Self-Directed Roth IRA






Why he opened his self-directed Roth IRA 2 years before he used it…

David G. had lost his confidence in Wall Street. Even though he didn’t have an investment picked out at the time, he opened his self-directed Roth IRA and he had confidence that he would find a worthwhile future investment to direct his retirement funds to.

What you have to consider is that many times what we find is that the client says I’ll open an account when I find something. If you wait until you find something and you find a very good deal, there’s a timeframe to open these accounts. We can do it very quickly. However, getting the money from provider A to us does take time – anywhere from one to three weeks, and in some cases longer if they drag their feet.

You’ve got to be prepared to make the investment, and tripping over a couple of pennies of perceived return may be interest that you may think you’re going to get or the stock market hoping it doesn’t go down before you make the move.

If you enjoy real estate, you want the chance to use leverage within your IRA account to fund your retirement, and you are up for acting as a landlord, you should consider using a self-directed Roth IRA to own real estate. For a free consultation, please call us at 1-866-7500-IRA (472).

This is a great opportunity afforded to us by our government; as long as you follow the IRS guidelines, this is a phenomenal tool!