IRA Approved Precious Metals

Not all precious metals are created equal. This is especially true in the eyes of the IRS, which only allows certain precious metals of the highest standards to be invested in an IRA. When it comes to precious metals, IRA-approved precious metals include gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the gold nugget you found washed up on the beach can be stashed away in your retirement account.

There are several restrictions when it comes to investing in precious metals through an IRA. First, you need a special type of retirement account called a self-directed IRA.

Second, the IRS has restrictions on the types of precious metal coins and bars that qualify for retirement savings, such as purity requirements. (But don’t worry, the list of IRS-approved precious metals includes some of the most in-demand bullion and proof coins in the market.)

In this guide, we’ll explore IRA-eligible precious metals, including the most popular types of IRA-eligible gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. You’ll also learn about eligibility requirements, along with answers to frequently asked questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular and well-known IRA-approved coins.

What Are IRA-Eligible Precious Metals?

The IRS allows four different types of precious metals in an SDIRA, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. However, only certain types of precious metals are eligible to be placed in an IRA. The primary requirement is for these precious metals to contain certain purity requirements, known as minimum fineness requirements. These minimum fineness requirements are as follows:

IRA-approved precious metal requirements

  • IRA-eligible gold purity requirements: 99.5% pure, except for the American Gold Eagle*
  • IRA-eligible silver purity requirements: 99.9% pure
  • IRA-eligible platinum purity requirements: 99.95% pure
  • IRA-eligible palladium purity requirements: 99.95% pure

In order to be considered IRA-eligible, precious metal coins must meet certain standards. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 expanded the standards of what could be included in an IRA based on the requirements above. Also, a self-directed IRA (SDIRA) account must be used for precious metals investments. An SDIRA gives the account holder greater control over their retirement account and allows for a wider array of investment options than a conventional IRA. The IRS also requires an IRA custodian, which is a financial institution that oversees your account’s activities, to administer the account and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

*Note: The only exception to these requirements is the American Gold Eagle Bullion and Proof Coin — at 91.67% purity — as it is the only bullion coin that has its weight, content, and purity guaranteed by the U.S. government.

What Is IRA-Approved Gold?

If you’re interested in a gold investment, opening a Gold IRA or Gold Roth IRA can be a great way to diversify your retirement savings and leverage gold’s many benefits, such as its use as a safe haven asset and hedge against inflation. However, before you buy gold to place in an IRA, it must meet the minimum fineness requirements of being 99.5% pure, except for the American Gold Eagle. Explore some of the popular IRA-approved gold coins below that are worth considering.

American Gold Eagle (Bullion)

The American Gold Eagle bullion coin almost immediately became the world’s best-selling precious metal coin after it was released in 1986. These coins stand out from other U.S.-minted coins in that they are the only bullion coins legislated by the U.S. government for purity, content, and weight. Furthermore, even the source of gold is legislated — thanks to former President Ronald Reagan, eagles must be made from U.S.-mined gold.

This popular bullion coin is made of “crown gold,” an alloy of 91.67% (22 karat) gold, 3% silver and 5.33% copper. Crown gold is much less prone to wear than softer coins 0.95+ fine.

The gold eagle depicts Lady Liberty elegantly on the front, with a family of bald eagles depicted on the reverse. The Gold Eagle comes in four denominations: 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/2 oz, and 1 oz, with their face values ranging between $5-$50, providing precious metals investors another way to diversify their gold savings.

Canadian Gold Maple Leaf

Issued by the Government of Canada and produced by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf bullion coin has a face value ranging from 1 CAD – 50 CAD (depending on the year) and offers weights between 1/10 troy oz to 1 troy oz. Compared to other gold coins, the Maple Leaf has one of the highest purity levels.

First struck in 1979, the Maple Leaf has been a mainstay in Canadian coinage and investments over the decades. The coin features an image of Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada, on the front and the national symbol of Canada, the maple leaf on the reverse side.

The RCM minted these coins in 0.999 purity until 1982, when they improved upon this already impressive purity level to 0.9999. The mint has even produced special editions of the Maple Leaf at 0.99999 (“five nines”) purity, which are highly sought after by investors and collectors alike.

The Royal Canadian Mint has always ensured exceptional quality and security on its bullion coins. Over the past several years, the RCM has introduced new features — like laser-micro-engraved textured material and radial lines — which allow buyers to easily verify the authenticity and protect against counterfeiting.

Canadian Gold Twin Maples

The Gold Twin Maples coin is minted by the Royal Canadian Mint in both gold and silver. The gold Twin Maples was first struck in 2017 at 1/4 oz and features Queen Elizabeth II on the front and two maple leaves on its reverse side. Featuring a frosted background and reverse-proof finish, the Twin Maples is a stunning coin with intricate details. This coin also comes with the same 0.9999 purity as other RCM coins.

Other IRA-Eligible Gold

Along with the American Gold Eagle, Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, and Canadian Gold Twin Maple coins, there are several other IRA-eligible gold coins, along with gold bars, and rounds you can purchase through your precious metals IRA.

Bars and rounds, in various sizes and weights, are also available to further diversify the precious metals in your retirement account. Bars and rounds are mostly produced by private refiners and are not considered legal tender. However, they are sometimes made by Government mints. For example, the Perth Mint of Australia mints both gold and silver bars.

Bars and rounds are often produced with the logo of the manufacturer, weight, and purity stamped into them. The IRS sets minimum purity requirements on bars and rounds (and all precious metals) for investment into an IRA. So, be sure to check the purity with your IRA custodian before you think about including bars and rounds in your IRA.

Additional IRA-eligible gold coins, bars, and rounds include:

What Is IRA-Approved Silver?

SDIRA account holders can also buy silver to place in their precious metals IRA as long as the silver meets the minimum fineness requirements of 99.99% pure. Like gold, eligible silver comes with several key benefits, such as its ability to maintain its purchasing power during times of economic instability and growth potential. Below are several coins you can purchase through your silver IRA:

Canadian Silver Twin Maple Leaf

The silver Twin Maple Leaf bears a resemblance to its gold counterpart with some interesting differences. This coin features both Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and two maples on the reverse, as seen in the gold Twin Maples. The RCM included anti-counterfeiting measures, including radial lines and micro-engraving for the coin’s design as well.

American Silver Eagle

The American Silver Eagle bullion coin, first issued in 1986, is the United States’ official silver bullion coin and features designs of Walking Liberty by Adolph Weinman. With a purity of 99.9% and a face value of $1, the American Silver Eagle is a popular IRA-eligible coin. For those interested in a limited edition version of the American Silver Eagle, the American Silver Eagle proof coin is available and can be placed in a precious metals IRA or purchased for physical possession.

Canadian Silver Maple Leaf

The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is a popular IRA-eligible coin, as it’s the purest silver coin minted in the world. Boasting a purity of 99.99%, the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf has a base metal-free composition that was made possible by the technical advancements of the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM). The obverse of the coin can feature three different effigies of the Queen, either at 39 years old, 64 years old, or 79 years old after her Golden Jubilee. The reverse side features the iconic maple leaf, which was redesigned in 2009 by Dora de Pedery-Hunt.

Other IRA-Eligible Silver

Other popular IRA-approved silver coins, bars, and rounds include:

What Is IRA-Approved Platinum?

While gold and silver are the most popular IRA-approved precious metals, SDIRA account holders can also purchase alternative assets like platinum, which is known for its catalytic properties. Popular IRA-eligible platinum coins include:

American Platinum Eagle

The American Platinum Eagle is another coin produced by the U.S. Mint that is IRA-eligible. The American Platinum Eagle is the official platinum bullion coin of the United States and was first introduced by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti in 1997. Since its inception, the American Platinum Eagle has remained the only investment-grade platinum bullion introduced by the U.S. government with a guaranteed weight, content, and 99.95% purity. On the face of the coin, you’ll find a portrait of the Statue of Liberty, which symbolizes freedom and opportunity, while the reverse design changes annually, typically themed around the American eagle for its embodiment of strength and security.

Other IRA-Eligible Platinum Coins

Additional IRA-approved platinum coins include:

What Is IRA-Approved Palladium?

The final precious metal you can purchase through your IRA is palladium, which, similar to platinum, is known for its catalytic properties. Along with platinum, palladium shares a history similar to that of gold and silver, serving as a hedge against inflation and maintaining its purchasing power during turbulent economic times. There are several IRA-approved palladium coins, such as:

Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf

The 1 oz Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf by the Royal Canadian Mint is a popular palladium coin and is one of the few palladium coins left that’s issued by an official government mint. The Canadian Palladium Maple Leaf meets the IRS’ 99.95% purity requirement and is recognized internationally as a form of currency. Its rarity makes this coin a great addition to retirement portfolios. On the coin’s obverse side, you’ll find a depiction of Queen Elizabeth II, with the reverse side showcasing Canada’s national symbol, the maple leaf.

American Palladium Eagle

The American Palladium Eagle is the only official U.S.-minted palladium coin, with limited mintages of bullion and proof coins, contributing to their potential of having an increased aftermarket value. This harder-to-find coin was introduced in 2017 after the passage of the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act. When looking at an American Palladium Eagle coin, you’ll notice an obverse featuring the classic Walking Liberty designed by Adolph Weinman and a reverse featuring the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.

Other IRA-Eligible Palladium

Along with palladium coins, those looking to purchase palladium can consider palladium bars and rounds. These are privately minted, can come in various sizes and weights, and are eligible for placement in a precious metals IRA.

Even though the IRS has restrictions on which precious metals coins can be invested in an IRA, there is still a diverse selection of physical coins investors can choose from to diversify their collection and retirement portfolio.

IRA-Approved Precious Metals FAQs

What precious metals are not approved for IRAs?

While there are numerous IRA-approved precious metals that the IRS permits, not every precious metal coin, bar, or round can be placed in an IRA. Making a prohibited transaction that includes ineligible precious metals can result in penalties and fines that can take away from your savings, which is why working with an approved custodian and financial advisor is advised.

With that said, precious metals that don’t meet the purity requirements are not approved for IRAs. This means that gold under 99.5% pure (except for the American Gold Eagle), silver under 99.99% pure, and platinum and palladium under 99.95% pure are ineligible for purchase through an IRA. Examples of precious metals not approved for IRAs include:

  • Rare or collectible coins
  • Austrian Corona
  • Austrian Ducat
  • Belgian Franc
  • French Franc
  • Swiss Franc
  • British Sovereign
  • German Mark
  • Italian Lira
  • Mexican Peso
  • South African Krugerrand

How do I open a precious metals IRA?

Purchasing IRA-eligible precious metals can be a great option for protecting and diversifying your retirement savings. At Birch Gold Group, a Precious Metals Specialist can walk you through the steps to get started with a precious metals IRA, which include:

How to purchase IRA-eligible precious metals

  1. Choose a Custodian & Open an IRA: The first step of opening a precious metals IRA is choosing a custodian who specializes in precious metals IRAs. At Birch Gold Group, we work with highly reputable custodians, such as Equity Trust Company and GoldStar Trust Company. After selecting a custodian to work with, you’ll complete the necessary paperwork to open your IRA account and facilitate your transactions.
  2. Fund Your Account: Your next step is to fund your account, which can be done by transferring funds from an existing IRA (Traditional, Roth, SEP, or SIMPLE) or completing a rollover from an account such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457, and TSP. To get started, Birch Gold Group requires a $10,000 minimum account balance.
  3. Select Your Precious Metals: With your account funded, the next step is choosing among the IRA-eligible precious metals we’ve discussed. At Birch Gold Group, our selection of products rotates over time, and our team can walk you through our available options for your precious metals IRA.
  4. Select an IRS-Approved Depository: After choosing your precious metals, the final step is selecting an IRS-approved depository, which is an institution that acts similar to a bank by safeguarding your assets with the latest security measures, such as armored vaults, 24/7 monitoring, and insurance coverage.

Can you take possession of precious metals in an IRA?

Yes, precious metals IRA account holders can take possession of their physical precious metals during retirement. When an account holder reaches the IRS’ retirement age of 59 ½, they can make an in-kind distribution to take physical possession of their metals outside of their retirement account. It’s important to note that for most account types (except a Roth), taxes will have to be paid on in-kind distributions, similar to cash distributions.

Wrapping Up: Purchasing IRA-Eligible Precious Metals

Purchasing precious metals through an SDIRA can offer various advantages, such as tax benefits, diversifying existing savings, leveraging a safe-haven approach, and having an asset that can hedge against inflation. There are several IRA-approved precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, which can come in the form of coins, bars, and rounds. To learn how to open an SDIRA and save for retirement with physical precious metals, contact a Birch Gold Group Specialist today.

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