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Click on the following links to find quick answers to some of our most Frequently Asked Questions. Feel free to contact us if you need further assistance!

  • General Forms And FAQs
    1. What service does Vantage provide?

      Vantage Self-Directed Retirement Plans is a retirement plan record keeper for self-directed IRAs. We offer the same retirement plans as other plan administrators with one exception – we are committed to making self-direction easy for you. Vantage doesn’t tell you what to invest in but rather, we timely and accurately facilitate your purchase of the assets that you choose with your IRA funds. A truly self-directed plan distinguishes itself from other plans by what the plan is invested in and who’s directing the money.

    2. Why do I need an administrator like Vantage?

      The Internal Revenue Service requires a custodian to hold the IRA assets and the custodian is required to report transactions on the account. Due to some of the nuances of self-directed accounts, many custodians do not accept these types of assets. Vantage performs these requirements in an effective and efficient manner.

    3. Is it legal to purchase non-traditional assets using my IRA?

      Yes. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 passed the responsibility of retirement saving from the employer to the employee. Created in 1975, IRAs provide individuals a chance to direct where their retirement funds are invested. The IRS code, instead of distinguishing which investments are allowed, identifies which investments are not permitted under these laws. Under both ERISA and IRS Codes, there are only two types of investments excluded: life insurance contracts and collectibles such as works of art, rugs, jewelry, etc. Refer to Internal Revenue Code Section 401 (IRC § 408(a) (3)).

    4. Why haven’t I heard about the option to self-direct my IRA?

      It’s a common misconception that the only investments allowed in a retirement account are stocks, bonds, CD’s, and mutual funds. The truth is that broader investment options have been available to the public since the inception of the IRA in 1975. A Vantage Self-Directed Retirement Plan allows you the freedom to maximize your investment choices and invest in many types of assets.

    5. What kinds of investments can I make with a Vantage Self- Directed IRA?

      You can purchase real estate, notes, precious metals, private placements, accounts receivable, tax lien certificates, and so much more – basically, anything which is not prohibited as defined by the Internal Revenue Code.

    6. What is a prohibited transaction?

      A prohibited transaction is any improper use of your IRA by you or any disqualified person (party related to your IRA). Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 states: An IRA cannot engage in any transaction (direct or indirect) with anybody or anything considered related to the IRA. The tax code allows you to invest your IRA monies in almost anything within limits, with the exception of collectibles and life insurance contracts which are prohibited investments.

    7. What is a self-dealing?

      In general terms, self-dealing refers to a transaction that can provide you personally (instead of your IRA) with immediate financial gain. Because the basic concept of an IRA is that it is a trust intended to benefit you when you retire, when you invest through a self-directed account, your IRA, not you, owns the investment.

    8. How often do I receive a statement on my accounts?

      If you elect to enroll in online statements, you can view your account at any time and receive a year-end statement in the mail. If you do not enroll for online access, statements will be mailed on a quarterly basis.

    9. What are required minimum distributions?

      Required minimum distributions are the minimum amounts that must be distributed to you from your retirement account(s) after you reach age 70 ½ (with the exception of the Roth IRA).

    10. If I do a conversion from Traditional → Roth and I convert $100K, will $100K be transferred or will the taxes be pulled from that $100K?

      The entire $100K will transfer and you will be responsible for paying the taxes on that amount.

    11. If I need to request a payment from my IRA to pay for expenses on an asset I own within my IRA how do I do that?

      Please complete our Payment Authorization Form. This form gives Vantage the authorization to pay your expenses. Along with this form you will also need to submit an invoice for what we are paying.

    12. Are there any transaction fees associated with taking a distribution from my IRA?

      Yes. Depending on how you wish for us to send the funds to you, there will be either a $5 check fee or a $30 wire fee.

    13. How can I pay for my fees when taking a distribution?

      There are several methods. You can pay by check indicating in the memo line what fees are being paid, you can call and pay over the phone with a credit card, you can complete our credit card authorization form and fax it to our office, or, if there is cash in your Vantage account, the fees may also be deducted from the account prior to a check being issued to you.

    14. Can I choose to have taxes withheld from my distribution?

      Yes. Federal taxes can be withheld at a minimum of 10%. State can be withheld only if you live in the state of Arizona.

    15. If I have a physical asset that I do not wish to liquidate but want to take as a distribution from my IRA, is that possible?

      Yes. If you want to take possession of the actual asset you can do that however, some additional items are needed to satisfy those requirements including providing Vantage with a Fair Market Valuation or appraisal done by a third party, re-registering the asset and providing confirmation of same, payment of any outstanding administration fees, payment of transaction fees, and submittal of a Distribution Form for processing.

    16. What if I don’t have enough money in my account when doing a monthly distribution?

      You will be notified that there are not enough funds to process your request. You deposit funds in your account to ensure you will get the distributions for the following months.

    17. I had an emergency expense that I paid from my personal credit card. How can I get reimbursed so that I don’t create a prohibited transaction?

      Simply follow the same steps that you would if you had Vantage pay the Invoice first. Please submit a Payment Authorization Letter requesting the payment to yourself while also submitting an invoice showing the expense you previously paid.

    18. Can I have payments automatically paid monthly or quarterly and do I have to worry about contacting you each month before the bill is due?

      Yes. Please indicate your payment details and frequency on the Payment Authorization Letter.

    19. Will I be notified that the Payment Request has been processed?

      Yes. We will send you an email confirmation informing you that your request has been processed. We will also let you know when the funds will be sent or ready for pick up.

    20. What if I don’t have enough funds in my account to pay my bill?

      You will be notified that there are not enough funds in the account to pay your bill. Once there are funds in the account, your Payment Authorization Letter will be processed within two business days.

    21. Do I need to send a bill with the Payment Authorization Letter?

      Yes. We use that bill to ensure we have all the information to process your request efficiently.

    22. My husband and I share a property 40% and 60%. Can we use one Payment Authorization Letter?

      No. We need two separate Payment Authorization Letters submitted with the correct percentages for each of you with each account number reflected therein.

    23. What is Unrelated Business Income Tax?

      UBIT is often referred to in two different forms: Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) and Unrelated Debt Financed Income Tax (UDFI). UBIT applies to IRAs invested in entities that do not pay taxes (such as LLCs) and are an operating entity of a business that produces in excess of $1,000 per year in income. UDFI relates to an IRA that is debt financed provided that the net gain is more than $1,000 in a year. UBIT is applied to profits made on the sale of a debt financed property.

    24. Can my IRA be sued?

      Yes. Your IRA may be subject to legal action. IRAs are not always exempt from creditor claims and are never exempt from federal or state taxing authorities. However, some states do not permit creditors to collect from IRAs.

  • Opening New Accounts and Funding Transactions
    1. How do I open a self-directed IRA?

      You can open a self-directed IRA account by contacting Vantage at 480-306-8404 or by visiting our website at www.VantageIRAs.com . You’ll be asked a few questions regarding the type of account that you’d like to open. Then, we’ll provide you with the new account packet. Simply fill out the forms, sign them, and return the originals to Vantage.

    2. How much money should I have in my account to get started?

      While there is no minimum amount, the amount you should start with depends on the nature of the deal or investment you plan to make. Keep in mind thatadministration fees are due when the account is funded. Be sure to also check the contribution limits for the type of account you open.

    3. How long does it take to open an account?

      When all paperwork has been completed and received in good order, a new account can be opened within 3 business days.

    4. What are the fees and costs involved?

      Because investors have unique investment objectives, we’ve developed two fee structures. With Option One, fees are based on the number of assets. There is an account establishment fee of $50 and a recordkeeping fee of $325 per asset, per year. For example: an account holding one asset = $325 per year and an account holding six assets = $1,950 per year. With Option Two, fees are based on the asset value of the account. There is an account establishment fee of $50 and a recordkeeping fee that ranges from $195 to $1,850 per year.

    5. What will suffice as address verification?

      Verification includes your name and legal residence. A utility bill which shows service address, voter’s registration card, or insurance statement will suffice.

    6. Why do Ihave to reflect my name on the Application as it appears on the ID?

      Compliance requirements stipulate that the account be opened with the legal name as stated on the photo ID.

    7. Will a passport suffice as client identification?

      No. A passport alone cannot be used to verify your identity unless accompanied by a document supplying your service address to verify the legal address as listed on the application.

    8. Does my ID card need to be valid?

      Yes. The form of identification cannot be expired.

    9. Does the appearance of my signatures matter?

      Yes. Signatures must closely resemble the signature on the ID provided.

    10. Do application signatures need to be originals?

      Yes. While application information may be electronically entered, all dated signatures provided must be original.

    11. What information is needed to designate a trust as a beneficiary?

      A spousal consent (if married) for those living in community property states, as well as a copy or abstract of the trust in question. For example, a title page, beneficiary page, and signature page will suffice. The entirety of the trust is not required.

    12. What is a contingent beneficiary?

      The designated contingent beneficiary is the individual entitled to receive the benefits of the IRA should the primary beneficiary become deceased prior to the account holder’s death.

    13. Can I change my fee schedule selection?

      Yes. Fee schedule selections may be changed before the account funds or on the anniversary date of the account.

    14. How do I find out what the current contribution limits are for my retirement plan?

      You can review the contribution limits at www.irs.gov.

    15. Can I transfer my current retirement funds to Vantage?

      Yes. The application packet contains transaction documents that you can complete to transfer or rollover your funds to Vantage.

    16. What is a Medallion Guarantee Stamp and why do I need it?

      It is a stamp that only your personal financial institution or brokerage firm can provide for you as they have your signature on file. The stamp ‘authenticates’ your identity.Certain custodians require this stamp to process your request. This is not a Vantage requirement.

    17. What does it mean to liquidate my assets?

      When you liquidate your assets, you are selling a portion or all of your investment assets to obtain the cash proceeds and then use them to invest in other assets.

    18. How do I do this? I thought this Vantage Transfer Form did this for me?

      Please contact your advisor or broker at your resigning custodian and simply tell them you want to liquidate (sell) all or a portion of your assets. They can assist you on what to sell if you want to obtain a certain dollar amount. The Vantage Transfer Form does not liquidate assets for you because we do not have the authority to do so. The form states that all assets must be liquidated prior to submitting the transfer request to us because this form does not authorize the liquidation of assets.

    19. Why do you need a copy of my statement?

      We like to verify as much information as we can to minimize delays. We need to verify the name, account number, type of account, and that there is currently an active account with assets. If it is an “In-Kind” transfer, a statement is required. If it is a “Cash” transfer, a statement is not required but we prefer one to expedite your transfer request.

    20. What does In-Kind mean?

      In-Kind means that you will be transferring over an actual asset that may be an LLC, Note, Real Estate, Precious Metals, or Private Stock.

    21. How long does a transfer take?

      It depends on how long it takes the resigning custodian to process the request. We often see the process range anywhere from 7 – 21 business days.

    22. Will I be notified when the funds and/or asset is received?

      Yes, we will notify you via email once the funds or assets have been received.

    23. When will funds be available to make an investment purchase?

      We have a mandatory 5 business day hold on checks from the time they are deposited into your IRA. Wires and cashier’s checkswill be available the next business day following their deposit into your IRA.

    24. I have a 401(k) plan with my former employer. How can I self-direct the funds?

      You can self-direct the funds by rolling over your account into a traditional IRA or a qualified plan (if you are eligible to have a qualified plan) that permits complete self-direction, such as a Vantage Self-Directed IRA. Contact your former employer’s plan administrator or benefits department to determine what, if any, special procedures may be required. You may also roll over the assets you have in your old plan to your Vantage IRA “in-kind.” “In kind” means that the assets you held in your old qualified plan, 401(k), or other plan are rolled as-is into your IRA. Your former employer can advise you about any in-kind rollover or transfer restrictions.If you are still employed, check with your current plan administrator to determine if self-direction is currently allowed within your plan or if this option can be added.

  • Precious Metals Transactions
    1. How are Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) handled for precious metals accounts?

      You can either take an in-kind distribution or sell your precious metals and take a cash distribution.

    2. Why has the value of my coins gone down when the value of gold/silver is going up?

      Please contact your precious metals broker for any questions pertaining to the market value of yourmetals. Since Vantage is not a brokerage firm or investment company,we report the market values obtainedfrom a third party precious metals brokerage company. That market value is updated on a monthly basis.

    3. Does Vantage report to the IRS what is being held in my IRA?

      No. Vantage reports the market value of IRA – not investments of the IRA.

    4. Can I take possession (custody) of my precious metals?

      Only if taking an in-kind distribution. If the metals are purchased by the IRA, the Internal Revenue Servicerequires a custodian to hold the assets and the custodian is required to report transactions on the account.

    5. Are my precious metals insured while stored at a Depository?

      Yes. Up to $1 million dollars.

    6. Can I go visit or see my precious metals held at a Depository?

      Only when you are taking a distribution of your precious metals.Visitations are not allowed due to the security risk.

    7. Is there any type of audit performed to ensure that my metals are accounted for?

      Along with monthly reports of your holdings at the Depository, Vantage receives reports when there is any activity (movement) in your account.

  • Private Company Transactions
    1. How can I take one or more assets held in my IRA and move them into an LLC?

      Vantage needs all documents that facilitate an LLC investment, including a Private Placement Disclaimer and Instruction and the Operating Agreement/Sub-Agreement. The assets must also be re-registered:

      • i.e. if it is property → Quit Claim Deed
      • i.e. if it is a note → Re-Assignment of the note
      • i.e. if it is an LLC → Articles of Amendment
    2. Does there need to be a Manager listed on the Operating Agreement?

      Yes. There must be a manager designated within the LLC Operating Agreement.

    3. If I am invested in an LLC, how can I complete a conversion without changing the name of the LLC, just the membership?

      If you don’t already have a Roth IRA with Vantage, you will need to open one and complete a conversion form. You will also need to obtain a full evaluation from a third party and complete a Fair Market Valuation. You may want to consult with your chosen accountant and/or financial advisor on the taxes. Finally, provide Vantage with a new Operating Agreement or Amendment showing that the Roth IRA is now a member of that LLC.

    4. If I am 59 ½, have a Roth IRA vested in an LLC, and want to take a normal distribution, what paperwork needs to be completed?

      Please complete a Distribution Form.

    5. Can I take a Distribution directly from my LLC checking account?

      No. You must issue a check from the LLC checking account for deposit into your Vantage IRA account and submit a Distribution Form so that we can properly report the distribution to the IRS through Form 5498.

    6. Can my IRA invest in a business that I own?

      No. You cannot invest in a business that you personally own/manage, or earn a salary from a business your IRA is invested in.

    7. If my IRA invests in private companies, am I still required to complete the annual Fair Market Valuation?

      Yes. Fair Market Valuation of the units/shares of a company held within your IRA, with substantiation, must be provided annually.

  • Private Lending Transactions
    1. Can I borrow money from my IRA?

      No. You may not borrow funds personally from your IRA under any circumstances. This is a prohibited transaction. You may lend to any person other than disqualified persons or companies.

    2. Does Vantage need the original Unsecured Promissory Note?

      Yes. We require theoriginal note signed by the Client and the Borrower.

    3. Does Vantage contact my note holder to collect my note payments?

      No. Vantage is not a Servicing Agent and as such, is not responsible for ensuring that timely payments are being made on the notes held within the IRA account.

    4. If I hold notes in my IRA, am I still required to complete the annual Fair Market Valuation?

      Yes. Fair Market Valuation of the notes held within your IRA, with substantiation, must be provided annually.

  • Real Estate Transactions
    1. I’ve been told that buying and selling real estate in my self-directed retirement plan was illegal. Why?

      Many professionals are misinformed about self-directed plans. Neither the IRS nor the Department of Labor has ever published a list of legal investments. However, there is a list of Prohibited Transactions and Disqualified Persons that deal with what is not permitted. Real estate and numerous other alternative asset investments are permitted provided you follow the rules.

    2. What do I do if I don’t have enough money to buy real estate in my IRA?

      There are many options. You may partner with yourself or others; you may make allowable contributions; you may obtain debt financing through private sources or financial institutions on a non-recourse basis; you may arrange a seller carry back loan; you may sell other assets in your IRA to raise cash to make the purchase; you may transfer funds from other IRAs or rollover funds from qualified plans, such as 401(k), 403(b) or government 457 plans you may have had at employers where you no longer work; you may be able to make in-service withdrawals and roll those to the IRA within 60 days if you have a profit sharing of 401(k)plan where you currently work.

    3. Where can I get a loan for real estate purchases using my IRA?

      Private lenders and mortgage companies may lend to your IRA on a non-recourse basis. Sometimes banks and credit unions may make non-recourse portfolio loans to IRAs.

    4. Can my IRA take out a loan to enhance the purchasing power of the IRA?

      Yes. However, the loan must be a non-recourse loan: non-recourse against the IRA and the IRA Holder.

    5. If I run out of money in my IRA to pay expenses on my real estate investment, what happens? How do I pay the expenses?

      You can transfer funds in from another existing IRA or 401K (qualified plan), make a contribution if you’re eligible, or sell the asset (or a % of it).

    6. What if I need to pay an emergency expense on the property and can’t wait for a check from the IRA?

      You can pay the expense with a credit card and then submit the invoice and copy of the credit card statement along with a Payment Authorization Letter. Vantage will cut a check to the credit card company.*NOTE: if the bill was paid with personal funds, we CAN NOT reimburse you because that is prohibited. Submit a Payment Authorization Letter and copy of the invoice and Vantage will pay the company who will then have to return the money to you on overpayment.

    7. My spouse and I are Vantage clients. Can we use one Buy Direction Letter with our info on it to buy a property?

      No. You must both complete and sign your own Buy Direction Letter.

    8. If I want to buy a particular property in my IRA but I don’t have enough IRA funds, can I just put in personal funds to make the purchase?

      No. If all other means of IRA funds are exhausted, you may purchase a % with your IRA and a % with personal funds.
      *NOTE: Bear in mind that all rents coming in and expenses being paid must be paid in their % share. For example – 50% ownership IRA / 50% ownership personal name. Rent coming in must be 2 checks, 1 to the IRA, 1 to personal name (unless a property management company is used in which case the management company can issue the 2 checks). Expenses being paid also need to be paid 50/50.
      *NOTE REGARDING PROPERTY TAXES: Property taxes being paid in %. The county won’t accept partial payments and will return checks not make in the correct amount. Therefore, when paying taxes on properties where there are % ownerships, it’s best to have all checks mailed together. If it’s % owned by IRA and % owned personally, then arrangements should be made to include both checks in the envelope to mail to the county.

    9. If the IRA only owns a percentage of the property and the remaining percentage is owned personally can we use the property some of the time during the year?

      No. If the IRA owns any percentage of the property, it cannot be used by any disqualified person of the IRA.

    10. If I choose not to use a title agency, what is the procedure?

      Vantage needs a Hold Harmless Agreement, the original Warranty Deed / Quit Claim Deed, the Purchase Contract, and a Payment Authorization Letter for recording fees if the seller is recording themselves.

    11. What documents must be notarized?

      Warranty Deed and Limited Power of Attorney.

    12. Can I move a real estate asset held within an IRA to a newly formed LLC?

      Yes. Once LLC documents are in good order, you can complete the transaction and invest into the LLC.The assets must also be re-registered:
      i.e.: if it is property → Quit Claim Deed
      i.e.: if it is a note → Re-Assignment of the note
      i.e.: if it is an LLC → Articles of Amendment

DISCLAIMER: Vantage Self-Directed Retirement Plans does not offer investment, tax, financial or legal advice nor do we endorse any products, investments or companies that offer such advice and/or investments. All parties are strongly encouraged to perform their own due diligence and consult with the appropriate professional(s) licensed in that area before entering into any type of investment.