Rules & Regulations

Self-Directed IRA Rules & Regulations

Investing in alternative assets with a self-directed IRA offers a lot of flexibility. The IRS has self-directed IRA rules and regulations that limit certain holdings and transactions, as well as persons with whom your IRA can transact. You should also be aware of account contribution guidelines, ways you can fund your retirement account, and applicable taxes under certain circumstances.

Review the information below to ensure you do not violate any of the self-directed IRA rules and risk the tax-advantaged status of your self-directed retirement account. For example, IRA owners cannot vacation in homes owned by their IRAs. Also, if you have leveraged an investment purchase using a non-recourse loan, you should understand the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) tax that may apply. If you have any questions, please contact Advanta IRA.

Understanding IRS Rules & Regulations

Prohibited Transactions

Explore our prohibited transactions section to discover in-depth information and examples of transactions you and your IRA must avoid to comply with IRS regulations.

You will learn:

  • which investments are not allowed in your self-directed plan
  • who disqualified persons are relevant to dealings with your IRA
  • the punishment the IRS doles out for people and IRAs who don’t comply


Our contributions section defines annual contribution limits for IRAs, 401(k)s, ESAs, and HSAs. You can contribute as little as you want to each of these accounts. But you must not exceed contribution limits or your account may be subject to stiff penalties.

Transfers & Rollovers

There are several ways you can fund your self-directed IRA or solo 401(k) if you have an existing retirement account. This section explains transfers and rollovers, the differences between the two, and the rules you must adhere to when you use either method to move funds into a new account.


Even though the earnings in your IRA grow on a tax-free (Roth IRA) or tax-deferred (traditional, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs) basis, there are ways your account can incur a tax liability. Unrelated business income tax (UBIT) may be owed in two circumstances:

  • When your IRA receives unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) if it owns a business that is not taxed as a C corporation
  • If your IRA earns unrelated debt-financed income (UDFI) from assets that were purchased with additional financing outside the account

These transactions and investment strategies can be complex. We encourage you to review our section on UBIT and UDFI to understand how it works and how you can avoid some circumstances of UBIT by using a different type of retirement plan.

Fair Market Valuations

One of your responsibilities as a retirement plan owner is to provide the IRS with fair market valuations (FMVs) of the investments your plan holds. The IRS requires these values be assessed as of December 31st of the tax reporting year. Read our Fair Market Value page for detailed answers to FAQs, and short videos that explain how FMVs work for specific investments.

Understanding IRS Rules & Regulations