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Self‑Directed IRA

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Step into the world of smart self-directed retirement investing. Diversify with real estate and more while paying $0 tax on growth and $0 in transaction fees.

LLC Structure Benefits

Why Choose a Checkbook IRA?

Checkbook LLCs, adaptable for both Traditional and Roth IRAs, present a unique blend of tax benefits and structural advantages. Self direction greatly broadens the opportunities available to retirement investors, allowing direct control over a diverse array of assets not typically found in conventional retirement accounts such as real estate, precious metals, and private equity.

The integration of an LLC structure simplifies the investment process, bypassing the paperwork and fees involved in custodian mediated transactions. This leads to a faster, easier and more autonomous investment experience.

No More Paperwork

Eliminate the paperwork involved in conducting transactions through a custodian.

No More Delays

LLC structure avoids delays resulting from custodian involvement in every transaction

Investment Diversity

Invest in a wide range of assets, including real estate, precious metals, and private equity

Tax Advantages

Enjoy the tax benefits of IRAs, including tax-deferred or tax-free growth

No Transaction Fees

No custodian involvement in transactions means no fees

Make Quick Decisions

React swiftly to opportunities with the ability to write checks directly from the LLC

Easy IRS Compliance

Operate within IRS guidelines, ensuring compliance and peace of mind

Asset Protection

Enjoy enhanced protection of your retirement assets within the LLC structure

Which type is better?

Traditional vs. Roth IRA LLC

When considering a Checkbook LLC for your retirement investments, one of the key decisions involves choosing between a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA as the foundation of your Checkbook LLC. Both offer distinct tax advantages and are suited to different financial strategies. The choice largely hinges on your current tax situation and your expectations for the future, particularly regarding your tax bracket in retirement.

A Traditional IRA Checkbook LLC provides tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on the funds when you withdraw them in retirement, ideally in a lower tax bracket than your current one. This option can be appealing if you anticipate being in a lower tax bracket after retiring. On the other hand, a Roth IRA Checkbook LLC offers tax-free growth. Contributions are made with after-tax dollars, and withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. This is advantageous if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket in the future, as it allows you to lock in your current lower tax rate. Understanding these differences is crucial in tailoring your retirement investment strategy to your specific financial goals and expectations.

A Roth IRA is well suited for investors expecting to climb tax brackets, as it offers tax-free withdrawals in retirement when taxes would otherwise be high. By contrast, Traditional IRAs can benefit those who will retire into a lower tax bracket, as taxes are deferred until retirement when rates are lower.

Traditional IRA LLC

Contributions tax-deductible, but withdrawals in retirement are taxed.

A Traditional IRA LLC allows investors to avoid tax now and pay it later during retirement, at which time they may be subject to a lower tax band.

  • Tax-deferred growth: Contributions to a Traditional IRA are tax-deductible and the earnings grow tax-free until they are withdrawn in retirement.
  • Required Minimum Distributions: Beginning at age 72, you are required to start taking distributions from a Traditional IRA.
  • Contribution limits: The contribution limit for a Traditional IRA for the 2022 tax year is $6,000 for those under 50 and $7,000 for those aged 50 and older. In the 2023 tax year this rises to $6,500 for those under 50 and $7,500 for those aged 50 and older.


Contributions are not tax-deductible, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

A Roth IRA LLC offers the advantage of paying taxes upfront, allowing for tax-free withdrawals in retirement, potentially resulting in a higher net return on investment.

  • Tax-free growth: Contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars, allowing for tax-free growth of earnings over time.
  • No Required Minimum Distributions: Unlike Traditional IRAs, there are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) with a Roth IRA, providing flexibility in managing your withdrawals.
  • Contribution limits: The contribution limit for a Roth IRA for the 2022 tax year is $6,000 for those under 50 and $7,000 for those aged 50 and older. In the 2023 tax year this rises to $6,500 for those under 50 and $7,500 for those aged 50 and older.

Checkbook IRA Explained

How it Works

Self-directed Checkbook IRAs allow investors to directly hold a wide range of assets, using either Traditional or Roth IRA structures to save money on taxe. Keep reading to learn the in's and outs of this powerful investment tool.

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What is a Checkbook IRA?

A Checkbook IRA or IRA LLC is an innovative retirement structure where an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) wholly owns a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This unique arrangement merges the tax advantages of a Traditional or Roth IRA with the operational flexibility of an LLC.

The term "Checkbook IRA" comes from the fact that the IRA holder, through the LLC, gains direct control over the investments and is empowered to make transactions without involving a custodian.

An LLC that is solely owned by an IRA is considered a Single Member LLC for tax filing purposes; therefore, the Checkbook IRA LLC does not file a tax return. However, the IRA is subject to filing a tax return (Form 990T) in the event that UBTI or UDFI taxes are generated.

The checkbook structure is a game-changer for proactive investors seeking a combination of flexbility and direct control.
In a Nutshell

An innovative investment structure where an LLC is fully owned by an IRA, granting the holder freedom to manage transactions.

  • Structure: Combines an IRA with an LLC, enabling direct control over a diverse range of investments.
  • Tax Benefits: Investments within the IRA grow tax-deferred or tax-free, depending on the IRA type.
  • Investment Control: Owner makes investment decisions directly, avoiding the need for custodian approval for each transaction.
  • Turnkey's Role: We act as custodian for the IRA but do not control the LLC's investment decisions.
  • Investment Rules: Law forbids transactions benefiting the IRA owner or involving disqualified individuals.


One key appeal of a self-directed IRA LLC lies in its near unlimited range of investment possibilities. It allows for a broad range of asset types not available through the managed IRAs offered by banks, including real estate ventures, private equity, precious metals and much more. This flexibility, combined with the tax-deferred or tax-free growth provided by the IRA srtucture, positions it as a powerful tool for entrepreneurs and savvy retirement investors.

Rules and Regulations

While the Checkbook IRA LLC structure offers a huge range of investment options, investors must be mindful that the IRS has strict regulations regarding the use of IRAs. Certain types of transaction are prohibited, such as the purchase of life insurance and collectibles. Additionally, the IRA holder and their family members are considered "disqualified persons", and the IRA holder must not engage in any transaction that would confer a personal benefit upon these parties.

Navigating these guidelines can be straightforward with the right support. Turnkey's team, comprising experienced IRA industry veterans, is available to provide support and guidance. Their expertise ensures that you can confidently manage your IRA LLC, making informed decisions while staying within the regulatory framework.

Legal Foundation

In the landmark 1996 case of Swanson vs. the Commissioner (106 Tax Court 76), a significant legal precedent was set regarding the use of IRAs in business investments. The Tax Court ruled in favor of Mr. Swanson, who had his IRA purchase all the initially issued stock of a newly incorporated company. The IRS had challenged this action, but the court found that such a transaction wasn't prohibited. The key factor in the court's decision was that the stocks were newly issued; neither Swanson nor any disqualified party had previously owned them.

This ruling has since been instrumental in guiding the structure of self-directed retirement plans. Following the Swanson case, it became common practice to form an LLC where the membership units are initially and wholly owned by a Solo 401k or an IRA. This approach is particularly prevalent with self-directed IRAs, where it is used to gain "checkbook control" over the IRA funds, allowing for direct investment decisions.

Checkbook IRA is not just a financial tool, it's a legal innovation opening doors to diverse and direct investment options.
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Checkbook IRA Dos and Don'ts

Understanding the "do's and don'ts" of establishing and managing Checkbook IRA is crucial for maintaining compliance and maximizing its benefits. In this section, we outline the vital 'Do's and Don'ts' that every investor should know.

  • Do: Open the Checkbook IRA bank account in the name of the LLC, not in your personal name.
  • Do: Use the LLC employer identification number (EIN) when opening the Checkbook IRA bank account.
  • Do: Title Checkbook IRA investments in the name of the LLC, not your personal name.
  • Do: Pay investment expenses associated with the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC assets using Checkbook IRA funds, not personal funds.
  • Do: Deposit investment gains into the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC bank account.
  • Do: Make IRA annual contributions to the Self-Directed IRA first, not the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC.
  • Don't: Use the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC funds for personal use.
  • Don't: Obtain a credit card in the name of the Self-Directed 401(k) or in your name.
  • Don't: Use the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC assets for personal purposes, such as living or vacationing in a rental property owned by the LLC.
  • Don't: Perform repairs on real-estate property owned by the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC as you are a disqualified party.
  • Don't: Deposit personal funds into the Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC bank account.
  • Don't: Take RMDs or any distributions from your Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC.

Investment Types

What Can I Invest In?

The power of self-directed retirement accounts lies in the broad array of investment opportunities they present. Unlike managed IRAs from banks, which typically restrict the available investment options to stocks, bonds and mutual funds, self-directed accounts unlock the potential for investment in real estate, private businesses, precious metals, private lending and many more legally permitted assets.

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A Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC provides unparalleled flexibility when it comes to real estate investments. This account structure allows you to make quick decisions, often crucial in the fast-paced real estate market, without needing custodian consent for each transaction. The ability to write a check on the spot can be the difference between securing a great deal and missing an opportunity.

Here are a few of the diverse ways our clients use their self-directed IRA or 401(k) to build a profitable real estate portfolio.

  • Single-family homes: These properties can be rented out for steady income.
  • Multi-family properties: Apartment buildings and duplexes provide multiple streams of rental income.
  • Commercial properties: Office buildings, retail spaces, and warehouses can offer substantial returns.
  • Raw land: Purchasing undeveloped land can be profitable, especially in areas likely to see growth.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): These trusts allow you to invest in large-scale, income-producing real estate.
  • Private mortgages: Act as the lender and earn interest on loans to real estate buyers.
  • Fix-and-flips: Purchase properties below market value, renovate them, and sell for profit.
  • Rental condos: Condominiums can be lucrative rental properties in the right market.
  • Mobile home parks: This niche investment can generate high yields.

Establishing Your Account

Setup Process

Investing through a Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC begins with transferring retirement funds from accounts like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457 plans, or IRAs into a newly established Self-Directed IRA. This initial step is crucial as it reallocates your retirement savings to a structure that permits broader investment choices.

Following this, the next phase involves capitalizing the Self-Directed IRA-owned LLC with these funds. This action effectively grants you, as the IRA holder and LLC manager, the ability to directly manage and control the investments. You can execute investment transactions by simply writing checks from the LLC's checking account, enabling prompt and flexible investment decisions across a diverse range of assets.

Skip to Pricing
  • 1

    Establish a Self-Directed IRA

    The process starts with the drafting of a specialized Self-Directed IRA Operating Agreement containing specific IRA language, registering the LLC with the state and obtaining an EIN from the IRS.

  • 2

    Transfer Retirement Funds

    Transfer/rollover funds from former employer retirement plans or IRAs to new Self-Directed IRA Custodian that allows for investing in an LLC.

  • 3

    Create a Checking Account

    As the named manager of the LLC, you establish a checking account for the LLC at any bank of your choice.

  • 4

    Fund Your Account

    The Self-Directed IRA custodian then processes the investment directive and funds the Self-Directed IRA Owned LLC by wiring the funds to the LLC checking account.

  • 5

    Make Your First Investment

    After the Self-Directed IRA Owned LLC checking account is funded, begin processing investment purchases.

Checkbook LLC Setup ×1

The industry's best all-inclusive IRA LLC setup service for a single checkbook IRA LLC

$ 895

One-time setup fee

$ 150 /y *

Maintenance and servicing fee

Dedicated account manager Establishment of one Special Purpose LLC All state, legal and filing fees are billed separately Preparation & filing of Articles of Organization Preliminary name search Preparation of EIN filing and acquisition of an EIN number Obtaining a Certificate of Organization from the Secretary of State. Assistance in the establishment of an IRA LLC business bank account Customized and IRS-compliant Operating Agreement Assistance in the completion of documents to transfer funds to the LLC

* Optional annual payment for ongoing expert support and account maintenance service


Simple, Transparent Pricing

Our pricing structure is straightforward. With our full service LLC setup, you pay a low one-time fee which covers all aspects of account setup for a single LLC.

For a low annual fee, ousr optional maintenance and support service offers the extra peace of mind of ongoing expert guidance and support, helping to ensure your account remains well managed and compliant with all applicable IRS regulations.

Let's ditch the jargon.

We can walk you through IRA LLC in a quick, friendly chat. Schedule your free 15-minute exploration call and get clear answers to your questions from an industry veteran.

Frequently Asked Questions

More Questions Answered

If you have a question not answered here, feel free to reach out to info@turnkeyira.com or call us on (828) 608-0539.

What is a Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC? A Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC is an innovative retirement investment structure where an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) exclusively owns a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This arrangement empowers investors to diversify their retirement portfolio, enabling direct investment in a wide array of assets, from real estate to private businesses, all under the protective umbrella of an IRA. The setup provides increased control, agility, and efficiency in managing retirement funds, adhering to IRA regulations while offering expansive investment opportunities.
How is a Checkbook IRA LLC legally supported? The Checkbook IRA LLC finds its legal footing in the landmark Swanson vs. Commissioner case of 1996. This pivotal ruling endorsed the legality of IRAs investing in newly-formed entities like LLCs or corporations, establishing that such investments weren't considered prohibited transactions. Further reinforced by advisories like Field Service Advisory 2001-28011, this precedent allows IRAs to legally purchase initial shares or membership units in new entities, forming the basis for the Checkbook IRA LLC structure.
Does a Checkbook IRA LLC file separate tax returns? As a Single Member LLC owned entirely by an IRA, a Checkbook IRA LLC is not required to file its own separate tax return. However, the owning IRA might be obliged to file Form 990T if it generates specific types of income, such as Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI) or Unrelated Debt-Financed Income (UDFI). This requirement ensures adherence to IRS guidelines, keeping the IRA's investment activities through the LLC within the bounds of legal tax compliance.
What are the main benefits of a Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC? The Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC is valued for an array of advantages, particularly appealing to investors seeking to expand beyond traditional markets. These benefits include access to a diverse range of alternative investment options like real estate and private equities. The LLC structure significantly reduces custodian involvement, cutting down on associated fees and enabling quicker, more direct investment decisions. Additionally, it maintains the tax benefits associated with traditional IRAs, offering either tax-deferred or tax-free growth of investments.
How is a Checkbook IRA LLC different from a standard IRA? A Checkbook IRA LLC differs from a standard IRA in its scope of investment freedom and operational control. While standard IRAs are typically limited to conventional stocks and bonds and require custodian approval for transactions, a Checkbook IRA LLC allows for a broader range of investments, including real estate and private businesses. This setup empowers the IRA holder with direct control over investment decisions, bypassing the need for custodian approval for each transaction, thereby facilitating swifter and more diverse investment activities.
What types of investments can a Checkbook IRA LLC make? A Checkbook IRA LLC offers the flexibility to invest in a wide range of assets not typically permissible under conventional IRA rules. This includes investing in real estate properties (both residential and commercial), tax liens, precious metals, private company shares, and more. This structure enables the IRA to diversify its portfolio significantly, potentially reducing risk while exploring various growth opportunities.
How do you fund a Checkbook IRA LLC? Funding a Checkbook IRA LLC involves transferring retirement funds from accounts like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, or traditional IRAs to a Self-Directed IRA. Once these funds are in the Self-Directed IRA, they are then used to capitalize the LLC. This process involves purchasing membership units of the LLC with the IRA funds, thus establishing the IRA as the owner of the LLC and enabling direct investment from the LLC's checking account.
Are there tax benefits to a Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC? Yes, one of the key advantages of a Checkbook Self-Directed IRA LLC is the preservation of IRA tax benefits. Depending on whether it's a Traditional or Roth IRA, the structure allows for tax-deferred or tax-free growth of investments. This means that all gains, whether from rental income, capital gains, or interest, accumulate within the IRA without immediate tax liability, offering a powerful tool for retirement savings growth.
What is the process to establish a Checkbook IRA LLC? Establishing a Checkbook IRA LLC involves a multi-step process, starting with setting up a Self-Directed IRA and drafting an Operating Agreement tailored to IRA investments. Next, the LLC is formally registered with the state, and an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is obtained from the IRS. After these steps, retirement funds are transferred from existing accounts to the Self-Directed IRA, which then funds the LLC. Finally, a checking account for the LLC is established, through which direct investments can be made.
What are the key dos and don'ts for managing a Checkbook IRA LLC? Effectively managing a Checkbook IRA LLC requires adherence to specific guidelines to ensure compliance with IRS rules and maximize investment potential. Key dos include correctly titling investments in the name of the LLC, using IRA funds for investment-related expenses, and ensuring all gains are returned to the IRA LLC account. Crucial don'ts involve avoiding personal use of IRA funds, not mixing personal funds with the LLC's finances, and steering clear of prohibited transactions that could lead to tax penalties or disqualification of the IRA.
Are there any investment restrictions for a Checkbook IRA LLC? Yes, despite its broad investment scope, a Checkbook IRA LLC must comply with certain IRS restrictions. Prohibited investments include life insurance, collectibles such as art, antiques, jewelry, certain coins, and any transactions that might benefit the IRA owner or other disqualified persons directly or indirectly. It's essential to understand these restrictions thoroughly or consult with a financial advisor to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties.
How does a Checkbook IRA LLC reduce custodian fees? A Checkbook IRA LLC reduces custodian fees by minimizing the custodian's role in investment transactions. Standard self-directed IRAs typically involve the custodian for every transaction, incurring fees for each. With a Checkbook IRA LLC, once the initial setup is complete and the funds are transferred, the IRA holder can directly manage the investments through the LLC. This direct control mechanism cuts down on transactional fees and custodial oversight, leading to potentially significant cost savings over time.
What happens if I violate the rules of a Checkbook IRA LLC? Violating the rules of a Checkbook IRA LLC can have serious consequences. Engaging in prohibited transactions or using IRA funds for personal benefit can result in penalties, including taxes and fines. In severe cases, it may lead to the disqualification of the IRA, eliminating its tax-advantaged status. This would not only expose the IRA to immediate taxation but could also result in additional penalties. It's crucial to adhere strictly to IRS guidelines and seek professional advice when unsure about any transaction.
Can I use a Checkbook IRA LLC for personal expenses? No, using a Checkbook IRA LLC for personal expenses is strictly prohibited. The IRA's funds must be used exclusively for investment purposes. Personal use of these funds is considered a prohibited transaction and can lead to significant tax penalties and the potential disqualification of the IRA. It's important to maintain a clear separation between your personal finances and the investments within your Checkbook IRA LLC to stay compliant with IRS regulations.
How is investing with a Checkbook IRA LLC different from traditional IRAs? Investing with a Checkbook IRA LLC differs significantly from traditional IRAs in terms of investment flexibility and control. Traditional IRAs are typically limited to stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, and require custodian approval for each transaction. In contrast, a Checkbook IRA LLC allows for a broader range of investments, including real estate, precious metals, and private lending. The LLC structure provides the IRA holder with direct control over these investments, facilitating immediate and diverse investment decisions without the need for custodial intervention.
Can a Checkbook IRA LLC invest in real estate? Yes, one of the primary advantages of a Checkbook IRA LLC is its ability to invest in real estate directly. This includes a wide range of real estate investments such as residential and commercial properties, land, foreclosures, and more. The LLC structure enables these investments to be made quickly and efficiently, offering significant potential for portfolio growth and diversification. However, it's crucial to adhere to IRS rules regarding self-dealing and prohibited transactions in real estate investments.
What are the tax implications of investing with a Checkbook IRA LLC? Investing through a Checkbook IRA LLC maintains the tax advantages of a traditional IRA. Depending on whether it's a Traditional or Roth IRA, the investments grow either tax-deferred or tax-free. The LLC structure itself doesn't alter the tax benefits of the IRA; instead, it facilitates a broader and more direct investment approach. It’s important to note that specific transactions, like those generating UBTI (Unrelated Business Taxable Income), may require tax filing and potentially incur tax liabilities for the IRA.
Is it necessary to have a custodian for a Checkbook IRA LLC? Yes, even with a Checkbook IRA LLC, an IRS-approved custodian is required to hold the IRA. The custodian's role includes administrative tasks such as filing necessary reports with the IRS and ensuring that the IRA complies with IRS regulations. However, once the Checkbook IRA LLC is established, the day-to-day investment decisions and management can be handled directly by the IRA holder, significantly reducing the custodian's involvement in specific investment transactions.
What steps are involved in setting up a Checkbook IRA LLC? Setting up a Checkbook IRA LLC involves a multi-step process that begins with establishing a Self-Directed IRA with a qualified custodian. The next steps include forming an LLC under state law, obtaining an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS for the LLC, and transferring IRA funds to the newly created LLC. Once these steps are completed, the IRA holder, acting as the LLC manager, can open a bank account in the name of the LLC and start making investment decisions directly from this account. It's essential to ensure that all steps adhere to IRS guidelines and legal requirements for retirement accounts.

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