Gold IRA Tax Rules

by Grant HEnson

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Are you planning to invest in a gold IRA to secure your financial future? A gold IRA is a retirement account that allows you to invest in precious metals. These metals are stored at a third-party IRS-approved depository until you are eligible to seek physical possession of these assets. But that's certainly not enough to know to proceed with this investment. 

After all, similar to a traditional IRA, a gold IRA also has certain tax rules and regulations. Failure to comply with these rules can lead to tax penalties. Hence, it's crucial to closely understand these regulations before proceeding with your investment. 

To help you with that, this article will discuss everything related to gold IRA tax regulations, from the required minimum distributions to IRS withdrawal regulations. So, keep reading to learn more. 

What is a Gold IRA?

Unlike a traditional IRA account that allows you to invest in stocks and other paper money, a gold IRA allows you to hold actual gold as an investment. This means that you can use your hard-earned money to invest in physical gold, which is accessible once you reach your retirement age. This is a great way to preserve wealth and stabilize your financial future. 

Levon Galstyan, CPA and Accounting Consultant at Oak View Law Group says gold IRAs diversify investment portfolios and may safeguard against inflation by allowing investors to hold a tangible asset. This makes a gold IRA an ideal retirement investment option, especially in today's struggling economic times. Galstyan also refers to gold IRAs as an investment offering: 

  • Market volatility protection.
  • Inflation protection.
  • A vehicle for generating income in retirement.

Additionally, opening a gold IRA account is quite simple. You only need a reliable custodian to help you open the account and process your investments according to IRS regulations. And that's it! You are ready to add those shiny yellow metals to your portfolio.

However, it is worth considering that you can't add simply add any type of precious metals to your IRA account. Instead, you can invest in specific IRS-approved precious metals that fulfill specific purity criteria: 

  • Physical gold with a purity of 99.5%
  • Physical silver with a purity of 99.9%
  • Physical platinum with a purity of 99.95%.
  • Physical palladium with a purity of 99.95%.

The Basics of IRA Taxation

Regarding the taxation of precious metals IRA accounts, there are two types with different taxing policies. This includes a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. Being two different types of precious metals IRA accounts, they differ in some taxation policies. Refer to the table below to better understand how a traditional IRA and Roth IRA is taxed.

Tax Regulations

Roth IRA

Traditional IRA

Annual Contribution Limits 

$6,500 in 2023 ($7,500 for those 50 or older). This contribution limit is similar for both traditional and Roth IRA account holders.

Options for Early Withdrawals

Contribution to Roth IRAs can be taken at any time, but gains distributed before 59 ½ may be subject to a 10% penalty and income taxes unless an exception applies. Roth IRA investment earnings are likewise subject to a five-year holding period.

Unless you qualify for an exception like permanent disability or the need to purchase/construct a property, distributions from a traditional IRA before 59 ½ are taxed and subject to a 10% penalty. This is true for both contributions and investment gains.

Tax Benefits

Investors holding a Roth IRA don’t get any immediate tax benefits for their contributions. However, distributions for such retirement account holders are tax-free.

If deductible, contributions to a traditional IRA account lower taxable income in the year they are made. Retirement distributions, on the other hand, are taxed like ordinary income.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

There are no required minimum distribution limits that Roth IRA investors must comply with.

Traditional IRA investors must make minimum distributions once they reach a particular age. That age was previously 72. However, it changed to 73 this year in 2023 and is subject to a further increase to 75 in 2033.

Note: Gold IRAs come in two main types: traditional and Roth. To make an informed choice about which one suits your investment goals and financial limits, it's crucial to grasp the tax implications associated with each type.

Contributions to a Gold IRA

Other than the basics, one important aspect of gold IRA taxation is its contribution limits. While it might seem like you can freely contribute to your gold IRA account as it's your personal savings and retirement investment, there are rules in place. The IRS determines your contribution limits based on the specific type of IRA account you have. 

For instance, the maximum contribution to a Roth IRA in 2022 was $6,000. This contribution amount had increased to $6,500 in 2023.

Investors aged 50 or older can make an additional annual contribution of $1,000 as a catch-up contribution. A unique feature of Roth IRAs is the absence of age restrictions for contributions; you can keep contributing even beyond the age of 70½ or 72. If you opt for a traditional IRA to invest in gold, you must be at least 50 by the end of the year to start contributing, provided you or your spouse (for joint filing) have taxable income.

Furthermore, there are contribution limits for both Roth and traditional IRAs. As per the 2023 IRS guidelines, you can contribute to both accounts in the same year, but your combined contribution cannot exceed $6,500 for those under 50 and $7,500 for those 50 and older.

Contributions Based on Your Earnings

Compared to traditional IRAs, there are various income limitations with Roth IRAs. So, depending on your salary for the year, your contribution limit may be reduced or canceled entirely. 

Additionally, the IRS allows you to contribute to your IRA up to the cap or your annual earned income, whichever is less. Per the IRS guidelines, the cap is considered the contribution limit to an IRA account. Moreover, acceptable earned income for contributions includes wages reported on a W-2, alimony, and income generated through self-employment at a business or a farm. 

Notably, even though the cap is $6,000, you can only contribute $5,000 to a Roth IRA if your total income from these sources is $5,000. However, if your income is $6,001 or higher, you can contribute up to the $6,000 limit because your earnings surpass the maximum contribution.

Distributions from a Gold IRA

Regarding IRA tax regulations, there are some  limitations when seeking distributions from your retirement account. What does this mean? According to the IRS, you must begin taking distributions by April 1 of the year after you turn 72 (70 ½ if you reach the age before January 1, 2020) and by December 31 of subsequent years.

Taxes will also apply if you withdraw your precious metals or funds after liquidating a certain amount of your precious metals. But this is only applicable if you wait until you reach the preferred retirement age that meets the eligibility criteria for distributions from a gold IRA. 

On the flip side, there are circumstances in which you might consider taking early withdrawals from your precious metals IRA account. Unfortunately, it's important to note that the IRS prohibits withdrawals before the age of 59 ½, and doing so can result in an extra 10% tax penalty.

But that's not all! Instead, there are some exceptions where you can seek early gold IRA withdrawals without paying additional tax penalties. These exceptions include catering to financial needs in the following situations: 

  • Unreimbursed medical expenses
  • Health insurance premiums during the employment period
  • Permanent disability
  • Seeking higher education 
  • Purchasing, constructing, or rebuilding a home
  • Seeking an IRA inheritance
  • For fulfilling an IRS levy 
  • During the involvement in active duty
  • Seeking substantially equal periodic payments for five consecutive years or until you reach 59 ½

Tax Benefits of a Gold IRA

Did you know? One of the reasons people consider gold IRAs as an ideal retirement investment option is due to their attractive tax benefits. Yes, these IRA accounts bring more than physical asset ownership upon retirement. Speaking of which, let's go ahead and explore some of the primary tax benefits offered by a gold IRA investment.

Capital Gains Treatment

In a Gold IRA, capital gains tax can be a tax benefit. When you cash out your Gold IRA investments, the IRS considers gold a collectible, resulting in a 28% capital gains tax rate. However, if you keep your gold in a Traditional IRA, your profits are taxed as ordinary income at your marginal tax rate. When stored in an IRA, this differential may result in cheaper taxes on your gold investments.

Tax-Deferred Growth

Besides the mainstream benefits of investing in a gold IRA, like hedging against inflation and preserving wealth, IRAs also allow you to enjoy tax-deferred growth. A gold IRA permits your gold or other precious metals investments to grow without being subject to annual income or capital gains taxes while held in the IRA. 

This means that when your gold holdings increase in value over time, you will not have to pay taxes on those gains until you withdraw from the IRA. Hence, since you're not losing a portion of your returns to taxes yearly, this tax-deferral feature can help your investments grow more effectively, allowing your wealth to compound over time. 

Moreover, when you eventually draw distributions upon retiring, these withdrawals are normally taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. Depending on your circumstances, these taxes can be lower once you reach retirement age.

Possible Inheritance Benefits

Another notable benefit of a gold IRA is inheritance. However, inheriting an IRA can be complicated, with different rules for every type of inheritor, whether you are the deceased person's spouse, child, or a distant relative.

This also means that you have the option to physically hold the gold in your Inherited IRA. Furthermore, you have the flexibility to transfer some or all of your Inherited IRA assets into different types of precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Let's delve into the details of the additional inheritance benefits you can take advantage of.

Eligible Designated Beneficiary

You fall in this category only if you are: 

  • The surviving spouse 
  • Chronically ill 
  • Disabled
  • A minor 
  • Or only ten years younger (not more) than the original gold IRA owner.

If you identify with any of the above, you can: 

  • Transfer assets into an inherited IRA in your name and choose whether to take RMDs over your or the dead account holder's life expectancy.
  • Transfer assets into an inherited IRA in your name and specify a 10-year distribution schedule. You must liquidate the account by December 31, ten years following the original owner's death.

Note: Your ability to utilize these choices is based on whether the original owner of the IRA was under or over the age of 72.

Designated Beneficiary

If you do not fall into one of the above categories, you are referred to as a designated beneficiary and subject to a distinct set of restrictions. In this case, you have until December 31, following the original account owner's death, to withdraw the account fully.

Tax Pitfalls to Avoid

Unfortunately, gold IRAs don't only bring notable tax benefits for their investors. Yes, there are some pitfalls linked with gold IRA taxation, too. However, they are not common, especially if you're careful about avoiding them. To do that, you have to be familiar with them so let's explore in detail.

Prohibited Transactions

Self-dealing is one of the major pitfalls that gold IRA investors should avoid. Transactions that directly benefit the IRA owner or any disqualified persons, such as family members or enterprises owned by the IRA owner, are called "qualified transactions."

When an IRA owner engages in self-dealing, they effectively utilize their IRA funds for personal gain, which is illegal under IRS regulations. For example, buying gold coins from the IRA and utilizing them would be considered self-dealing. Why is this not allowed? Because a gold IRA is intended for retirement savings rather than personal use of its gold assets.

Using gold assets maintained in an IRA for personal use before attaining the distribution age is thus a violation of IRS laws. Rather, the gold in your IRA must be stored in a qualified depository until it is time to distribute it. Infringing on this rule can result in a 15% penalty on the amount of the unlawful transaction. However, a 100% extra penalty may be levied if the transaction is not corrected.

The Implications of Taking Physical Possession of the Gold

Taking actual possession of the gold in your Gold IRA is considered distribution. Hence, you'll have to pay income taxes on the gold's worth at your existing tax rate upon seeking its physical possession. As mentioned earlier, seeking early withdrawals would also lead to an additional 10% tax penalty on your precious metals.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

When it comes to tax penalties, it doesn't only apply to early withdrawal penalties of 10%. Instead, owning a gold IRA and avoiding tax penalties also comes with the pressure of taking your RDMs (required minimum distributions) at 73.

If you don't, your retirement account is subject to a 50% tax penalty for the shortfall or amount you didn't take. While this is a pitfall linked with gold IRA ownership, you can get this tax penalty waived if you prove that this RMD shortfall was due to a reasonable error.

Reporting to the IRS

To maximize the benefits of your gold IRA investment, it's crucial that you not only avoid penalties but also report to the IRS for the necessary taxation in time. For this, you should keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Forms Involved: Notably, taxation on Gold IRAs is normally reported using IRS Form 1099-R for distributions. Likewise, IRS Form 1040 is used to report for annual tax returns. Apart from this, if you are subject to early withdrawal penalties, you may also need to provide Form 5329.
  • Deadlines: We suggest you keep up with the tax filing deadlines to submit contributions or seek withdrawals in time. Notably, the IRS tax filing deadline for 2022 IRA contributions was April 18, 2023.
  • Consult with a Tax Advisor: Lastly, consult a tax advisor before you report to the IRS to pay the necessary tax on your gold IRA. They can assist you in precisely completing the relevant paperwork, meeting deadlines, and maximizing your tax benefits while avoiding penalties and compliance concerns. Moreover, tax regulations can change at any time. Hence, consulting a professional advisor will help you stay up-to-date with the latest IRS regulations for gold IRA.


Ultimately, a gold IRA is a smart retirement investment option that may come with various regulations, from withdrawals and contributions to the benefits and risks linked with gold IRA taxation. Now, no one would want to face tax penalties on an investment they are making to enjoy a financially stable retirement.

And you can only do that if you understand how gold IRA taxation works. This way, you can avoid the tax penalties while making the most of your gold IRA investment. We hope this detailed guide will help you get a more in-depth understanding of gold IRA taxation.

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