Can I loan money to a company I own? And what about Rollover for Business Startup (ROBS)?

Question: A husband and wife both have a Roth IRA & husband has a 401(k). He plans to leave his corporate job & start his own business. If Roth & 401(k) funds are transferred to self-directed IRA, can husband & wife use IRA funds to loan start up money to husband’s new business, as along as they pay interest on the loan to IRA? Is this an acceptable or prohibited transaction and how should the loan be structured? If prohibited, is therea way to structure the loan so as to be an acceptable transaction?

Answer: Thank you for your inquiry.  The short answer to your question is no, neither the Roth IRAs nor your 401(k) which is rolled into an IRA can loan start up money for your new business venture.  There is a list of persons with whom the IRA is not permitted to do business, called disqualified persons.  A business owned entirely by you would be a disqualified person, and therefore the proposed loan would be a violation of Internal Revenue Code Section 4975(c)(1)(B), which says that the direct or indirect “lending of money or other extension of credit between a plan and a disqualified person” is a prohibited transaction.

I have heard of people using their 401(k) plans to start a new business by using what the IRS terms a ROBS arrangement (Rollovers for Business Startups), but the IRS clearly does not like these arrangements and believes that the way many of them operate result in a prohibited transaction.  I have attached some information in this regard.  If you do want to go down this path, be sure that whoever you choose is very familiar with the IRS position and that you feel they have adequately dealt with the issues.  Certainly there are many companies out there offering the ROBS set up.  It is fairly expensive to do, though, since it involves setting up a C corporation, having the C corporation adopt a 401(k) plan, rolling the IRA or former 401(k) into the 401(k) for the new company, and purchasing shares of the company as employer securities.  You cannot roll your Roth IRAs into the 401(k) plan, only traditional IRAs.

Finally, you should be aware that Quest IRA, Inc. cannot give you tax, legal or investment advice, and so we could never advise you on how to structure a particular investment or provide you with the forms to do so.  Good luck with your new business venture.  Have a great day!

IRS ROBS Paper

IRS ROBS Analysis

IRS ROBS Fail Paper

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