Investing Spotlight: Gold & Silver

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Why Gold

With the recent financial turbulence in the economy, more self-directed investors are turning to precious metals like gold and silver. With the right precious metals strategy, you really can insulate yourself from the drastic effects of global events outside your control. While paper currency has continued to lose its value and purchasing power over the years, gold and silver have remained a sound long-term investment to protect against rising inflation and the stock market roller coaster.

Precious metals have long been a favorite asset of self-directed investors. With its history as sound money, long-term asset value, and scarcity – gold & silver are a desirable investment.

However, a huge reason why investors fail is that they focus on profits, but they forget to protect the profits. Holding some physical precious metals inside your Solo 401k can help you to truly diversify and establish a personal hedge fund, something often overlooked even by seasoned investors.

What kind of gold can I hold?

With the checkbook privileges of your Solo 401k account on our Unlimited® investment platform, you choose which types of precious metals are right for you. The term “bullion” simply means a coin that is valued by weight. In the metals world, bullion coins and bullion bars are used to describe precious metals that are valued for the amount of gold/silver in them, rather than basing the value on a “collectible” amount (more on collectibles later). Bullion coin weight is usually shown as 1-ounce or 1/2-ounce. Bullion bar weight is typically measured in grams.

The requirements for holding physical precious metals inside your Solo 401k are:

  • It must have at least 0.9950% fineness. That means it must be a true bullion coin or bar.
  • It must come from a NYMEX-approved or COMEX-approved refiner. Comex (formerly known as the Commodity Exchange Inc) and NYMEX (formerly the New York Mercantile Exchange) merged in 1994. Together, they are responsible for precious metals and metals trading so any NYMEX/COMEX approved refiner can sell you precious metals to hold inside your Solo 401k. This sounds a bit complicated, but the bottom line is that many government manufactured coins (like the US, Australia, Canada and Austria) are approved refiners so purchasing bullion coins from those refineries should be just fine.

A warning about collectables

Some investors have tried to make a little “extra” on the side by buying collectable coins, also known as numismatic coin. The idea is that some people might pay more for a “special” coin, that is, more than the amount of gold or silver in the coin. In other words, the hope is that somebody will pay for the “collectable” value of that coin.

However, tax code Section 408(m)1-2 clearly states that collectables are not allowed in the retirement account and any collectables purchased with retirement account funds could be considered subject to taxable distribution.

3) Exception for certain coins and bullion
For purposes of this subsection, the term “collectible” shall not include —
(A) any coin which is —
(i) a gold coin described in paragraph (7), (8), (9), or (10) of section 5112 (a) of title 31, United States Code,
(ii) a silver coin described in section 5112 (e) of title 31, United States Code,
(iii) a platinum coin described in section 5112 (k) of title 31, United States Code, or
(iv) a coin issued under the laws of any State or


(B) any gold, silver, platinum, or palladium bullion of a fineness equal to or exceeding the minimum fineness that a contract market (as described in section 7 of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. 7) requires for metals which may be delivered in satisfaction of a regulated futures contract if such bullion is in the physical possession of a trustee described under subsection (a) of this section.(Source)

So what does that mean in plain English?

Section A discusses bullion and Section B discusses specifically approved coins. 

If you’re purchasing bullion, it should be at a .995% level fineness. Typically, you can get this type of bullion from a refiner listed on COMEX/NYMEX (these are the commodities exchanges that deal with precious metals).

If you’re purchasing specifically approved coins, most government minted are generally acceptable.

Ultimately, if you want to hold metals in your Solo 401k account, stick to the following to be the most safe:

  • American Eagles
  • Canadian Maple Leaf
  • Australian Kangaroo
  • Austrian Phiharmonic

What about silver, platinum and palladium?

Yes, following the same guidelines of fineness and approved refineries means you can hold platinum, palladium and silver inside your Solo 401k. Holding a variety of metals can help you diversify even further.

How Do I Get the Gold Into the Solo 401k?

Buying metals with your retirement funds and getting gold into your Unlimited Solo 401k is easy. Once you open an account with us, you can rollover or contribute money to fund your Solo 401k account. Once your Solo 401k is funded, you can purchase the physical precious metals. Physical precious metals are an excellent long-term investment to provide a hedge against inflation, protection in a currency crisis or even as a sound investment that has proven to go up over the long term.

Where Should I Store the Metals?

For bullion, the IRS is clear that the metals need to be held in custody by a “trustee”, and no – they don’t mean you as the trustee of your Solo 401k trust!

Here, the IRS defines a “Trustee” as ““bank or such other person who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the U.S. Treasury Secretary that the manner in which such other person will administer the [IRA] will be consistent with the requirements of this section” (SOURCE).

For bullion, it is generally recommended the metals are stored in approved custody of precious metals depository or company that falls under the requirements set by the IRS when defining a “bank”. Bullion should not be held in your personal possession. 

With respect to government-minted coins like the American Eagle, the rules of possession are less clear. 

Some attorneys feel a safe deposit box in an approved bank is generally OK. The safe deposit box should be titled in the name of the retirement account. If the safe deposit box is titled in the name of the trustee, it would be considered personal storage and the metals contained therein could be considered taxably distributed. 

The American Eagle is one such coin considered a specifically approved coin that could possibly be held in possession of a bank safe deposit box, with the box titled in the name of the retirement account.

As this area of the Internal Revenue Code is unclear, before purchasing and taking possession of coins owned by your retirement account, consult your legal counsel.

The Nabers Group Solo 401k Platform

As the pioneers of checkbook control, we paved the path for bureaucracy-free self-directed investing. With the Nabers Group Unlimited Solo 401k platform, you already have your Gold IRA included! The Nabers Group Unlimited Solo 401k allows you to purchase almost any type of investment with your retirement funds, including physical precious metals. No need for any additional account setup or annual fees since the ability for your Solo 401k to purchase physical precious metals is already included!  Additionally, when you set up a Solo 401k by Nabers Group, there are no transaction fees or asset fees, ever.

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