Gold Star Trust Company was formed in 1983 to serve as Registrar, Paying Agent and Trustee for churches and other non-profit organizations that issue bonds for long term financing. As a natural step in serving their customer base, GST began accepting self-directed IRA accounts in 1990. GST now serves 750 active bond issues and over 9,000 IRA accounts with assets including church bonds, gold and silver coins, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, treasury securities, notes, and other types of investments.
The total value of assets in all GST accounts is over $125,000,000. GST is recognized throughout the country as the leading provider of precious metals IRAs. GST is regulated by the Texas Department of Banking, and their offices are located in Houston, Texas. The officers and directors of GST are specialists in the fields of law, accounting, banking, motivation, fund raising, sales and computer technology.
In the past, only Gold or Silver Eagles qualified for IRA accounts. Recent legislation expanded the rules regarding Individual Retirement Accounts, beginning on January 1st of 1998. For the first time, platinum is now eligible for inclusion IRA portfolios, not only through the Platinum American Eagle bullion coins but through Australian Koalas and Canadian Platinum Maple Leafs.
Question: Could you list the type of precious metals products that qualify for this program?
GST: As of January 1, 1998, the Internal Revenue Code allows IRA investment in a wider range of precious metals. Investment is permitted in both coins and bullion of platinum, palladium, gold and silver, provided they meet stringent fineness requirements. These requirements are that the product be essentially 100% pure precious metal.The IRA trustee or custodian, who must store and account for the precious metals, may have further restrictions. Gold Star Trust Company (GST), for example, must limit the investments to broadly traded, fungible products which can be recorded and stored at our depository, Republic National Bank of New York.
Question: Could you walk us through the process of how an investor would open a precious metals IRA account?
GST: There are really three phases to getting platinum into an IRA. These are:
First, the IRA must be established at a financial institution that is willing to make an investment for the customer in platinum. Second, the IRA must be funded by an annual contribution, a transfer or a rollover. Finally, The IRA custodian must purchase the platinum and hold it in safekeeping for the customer. Gold Star Trust provides the forms necessary to open the account, as well as forms to effect a transfer or rollover. Once the account is opened and funded, the customer gives the IRA Custodian specific instructions regarding the platinum to purchase, the price and the dealer. The Custodian makes the purchase, and the platinum is shipped to Republic National Bank of New York.
Question: What if the investor already has an IRA account?
GST: An existing IRA may be used to invest in platinum, provided the IRA Trustee or Custodian will allow the investment and will agree to store the platinum. Usually a Self-Directed account is required. In this type of account, the customer gets to select the investments, rather than just taking whatever the IRA Trustee is selling. Most banks, mutual funds and other types of institutions that sell a financial product will not allow the customer to direct the investments, beyond choosing among the offerings of the institution.
GST does not sell any products, and acts strictly as Custodian for Self-Directed IRA accounts. Customers may direct investments in platinum, other precious metals, CDs, stocks, bonds, U.S. Government securities, notes, and several other types of investments.
Question: Are contributions made after January 1, 1998 the only amounts available for investment in platinum?
GST: People often confuse the funding of the IRA with the investments made with the IRA funds. The new tax law allows expanded options for investments in precious metals held by any IRA beginning January 1, 1998. It doesn't matter when or how the cash went into the IRA, as long as the purchase of the newly allowed metals is made after January 1, 1998
Question: What is Gold Star Trust's role in this type of IRA?
GST: ACT serves as Custodian for Self-Directed IRA accounts. We have no investment authority for the accounts, and work strictly from instructions given by the customer. In a precious metals IRA, we invest in metals as directed by the customer, hold the investments, send semi-annual statements to the customer, and file the required reports to the IRS. We do not give or receive any compensation to or from the precious metals dealers, and we do not sell our customer lists.
ACT does not provide financial or tax planning advice, but we can assist with compliance with IRA rules and regulations. Of course, investors should always work with appropriate legal and tax advisors to manage their IRA investments.
Question: Where are the metals physically stored?
GST: GST uses Delaware Depository Service Company in Wilmington, DE, for storage of precious metals.
Question: How do investors sell their metal when they are ready to take distribution?
GST: Again, there is often confusion regarding selling assets and taking distributions. Assets may be sold by the IRA at any time, regardless of whether a distribution is planned. Likewise, a distribution may be taken regardless of whether not assets are sold.
When an asset is sold, Gold Star Trust simply holds the cash in the IRA until the customer directs another investment or requests a distribution. Selling platinum works the same way as purchasing. The customer gives written instructions to Gold Star Trust regarding what to sell, at what price and through which dealer. Gold Star Trust makes the sale, and waits for further instructions.
When customers take a distribution from their IRA at Gold Star Trust, they have two choices. The assets in the account may be liquidated and distributed in cash, or they may be withdrawn "in kind," which means the actual asset itself is sent to the investor. This allows the investor to decide if it is better to sell at the current market price, or take a distribution in kind and sell at a later date, outside of the IRA. The amount reported to the IRS as a distribution is the cash amount distributed, or the fair market value of the asset taken in kind. Of course, the customer may not wish to take the entire account balance all at once. A Required Minimum Distribution for a person over age 70 will only be a portion of the total account value, so it may be that the customer will take a cash distribution in some years and in other years, take a distribution in kind.
Question: What are the advantages to investors in this type of IRA? What are the costs?
GST: A Self-Directed IRA at GST has several advantages. We are one of the few financial institutions in the country to handle precious metals accounts, which allows investors to hold hard assets in their IRAs. However, since we also allow many other types of investments, customers can have one IRA account, with one consolidated statement showing all investments.
Any charges, fees or commissions on investments directed by the customer will be charged to the account. Gold Star Trust fees are billed on the anniversary date of the account, storage fees are billed on a calendar year basis.
To establish a Self-Directed IRA at Gold Star Trust, simply complete the (get a copy from us) IRA Request Form and return it to Gold Star Trust Company.
Question: What are the advantages to dealers in recommending this type of IRA?
GST: There are several advantages to precious metals dealers who recommend this type of IRA to their customers. Perhaps the greatest is the fact that the average person has much more money available for investment in his/her IRA than in a checking account. The past several years have seen a large number of people laid off or given early retirement as corporations cut back or "downsize" their operations. There are billions of dollars in retirement accounts that may be eligible for rollover to IRA accounts. Gold Star Trust is in the IRA business, so the dealer doesn't have to be. Once the dealer determines that the customer has funds available for investment in an IRA or other retirement plan, he can simply supply the GST toll-free phone number and wait for the paperwork to be completed. Payment to the dealer is usually made by wire the day after funds are received by Gold Star Trust.
Finally, our people are knowledgeable, courteous, efficient and friendly, and are always ready to answer a question or help a dealer solve a problem.
For more information on how you can balance your IRA with gold, Call PTG today to set up your precious metals backed IRA: 800-951-0592. We sell gold, siver, and other applicable US precious metals coins for your IRA.