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How To Convert a TSP to Gold IRA

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A TSP, also known as Thrift Savings Plan, is a retirement and investment plan for federal government employees and uniformed service members.

Thrift Savings Plans were established by Congress in the Federal Employees Retirement System Act of 1986. A TSP offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that are offered by a 401(k).

Thrift Savings Plan is considered a defined contribution plan.

This means that the retirement income you receive from your TSP account depends on how much money you put into your account during your working years and the earnings accumulated over that time.

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A Thrift Savings Plan has many advantages like automatic payroll deductions, a diversified choice of investment options, and a choice of tax treatments for your contributions.

Even so, many investors would prefer to convert their TSP to a gold IRA to combat some of the limitations of a TSP and take advantage of the growing benefits of a self-directed IRA.

For instance, a TSP has limited investment choices compared to other options. At this time, there are only five investment choices to choose from. Additionally, there is limited tracking in money software.

This means that it'll be more difficult to have a clear picture of your wealth, asset allocation, and asset performance. These disadvantages have led many investors to consider a gold IRA.

Benefits of a Gold IRA Gold IRAs appeal to investors for many reasons. One of the primary reasons is to diversify their retirement portfolio. Gold prices typically move in the opposite direction of paper assets.

For this reason, adding gold to an IRA can offer better wealth protection and an additional insurance policy against inflation.

Benefits of Converting Your TSP

Here are some of the clear benefits of converting your TSP to a gold IRA:

1. Diversification

If your number one goal is to diversify your retirement portfolio, a gold IRA is one of the best options to consider. Diversification is the most important strategy when protecting and growing your wealth.

With that said, precious metals are alternative assets that can help you strategically balance your portfolio.

2. Insurance Gold

Insurance Gold has had a great sense of significance since it was first discovered. The history of physical gold and silver shows that the value has never gone to zero, unlike traditional paper assets.

Moreover, traditional IRAs that include stocks or mutual funds can be vulnerable to inflation.

But since gold prices typically move in the opposite direction of paper assets, a gold IRA is an excellent way to protect your wealth from inflation concerns.

3. Greater Control Gold IRAs

Greater control gold IRAs are self-directed, which means you'll be in control of your asset mix. Investors won't be limited to traditional retirement account assets like publicly traded stocks and bonds, mutual funds, or treasury notes.

You also won't be locked into a predetermined asset group chosen by your custodian. Overall, a gold IRA offers investors more flexibility for diversification and allows investors to take more control of their investment choices.

4. Hedge Against Inflation

Inflation happens from time to time. While we can't do anything about inflation, we can take steps to protect our investments through a gold IRA. 

Since gold and silver have performed well historically, it makes sense to consider a gold IRA an important aspect of your wealth security.

5. Growth Opportunities

When looking at conventional IRA accounts, these accounts are primarily dependent on a few stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that are linked to the economy. Unfortunately, an IRA account can easily suffer when the economy has plummeted.

Luckily, the demand for gold and silver means that investors have an increased potential for growth even when the economy is suffering.

6. Tax Advantages Lastly

A gold IRA has tax advantages that are attractive to investors. A precious metals IRA essentially has the same tax benefits as a conventional IRA.

Additionally, a precious metals IRA may be claimed as tax-deductible, depending on your tax bracket.

How to Convert a TSP to a Gold IRA

Now that you've learned the many benefits of a gold IRA, let's take a look at how you can convert your Thrift Savings Plan into a gold IRA: 

Once an individual leaves the government service, the Thrift Savings Plan terms enable them to transfer all or a portion of their TSP assets to a new employer's plan or to a tax-free rollover into an IRA.

It's also possible to make an in-service partial withdrawal of vested assets from your TSP once your reach age 59 and a half. With that said, if you would like to own precious metals directly, you'll need to find an IRA company that specializes in gold IRAs.

How To Convert a TSP to Gold IRA

When you open an account with a self-directed IRA administrator or custodian, they will assist you by recommending a third-party vaulting and storage provider for your chosen metals. The vaulting and storage provider will physically hold your gold and silver coins, bars, and bullion for your gold IRA.

If you want to convert your TSP to a gold IRA, you will also need to think about what method you want to choose to roll over funds. There are two options to consider: the rollover method and the direct trustee-to-trustee transfer.

Rollover Method

The rollover method is one option for investors to convert their TSP. With this method, investors request a lump-sum withdrawal from their TSP and then deposit the requested amount into their new IRA account within 60 days.

If you choose this method, don't forget to designate the deposit as a rollover from another plan and not as a new contribution. If you mistakenly make it a new contribution, your new IRA custodian or administrator won't be able to tell the difference.

Keep in mind that annual contributions to IRA accounts have limitations. If you are age 50 or older, your contribution limit is $7,000. Those under the age of 50 have an annual contribution limit of $6,000.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing the rollover method is the 60-day deadline. If you don't roll over your funds in your TSP account to your new gold IRA within a 60-day period, the IRS will treat this transaction as a withdrawal. This will lead to a host of other problems as you'll be liable for income taxes and any early withdrawal penalties.

Even missing the deadline by one day can lead to a withdrawal penalty, ultimately costing you thousands in taxes and penalties. For this reason, many investors prefer to use the trustee-to-trustee transfer method.

Trustee-to-Trustee Transfer Method

The second and most secure method is trustee-to-trustee. With this method, the money never passes through your hands. Instead, you'll open your gold IRA account with an IRA provider. Once you receive your account number, the company will be ready to receive funds.

You'll contact the TSP and fill out a transfer request detailing where you would like to send your money. Then, the TSP will wire the funds to your newly opened gold IRA.

After your gold IRA has received the funds, you'll need to specify in writing how you would like to invest your money, such as what products you would like to buy, at what price, and from where.

FAQs

Are there any fees?

Before converting your TSP into a gold IRA, it's important to understand some of the fees that you can expect. With that said, most self-directed IRA firms charge a one-time set-up fee and an annual fee. But these fees are sometimes waived, depending on the size of your account.

It's also possible for your chosen self-directed IRA firm to charge a percentage of assets under management. In some cases, a firm may charge a flat rate per transaction.

Another fee to think about is your third-party storage fee. They hold your metals on your behalf, which means you'll need to pay them for doing so. Moreover, you may have to pay an insurance premium if you would like to insure your precious metals against theft and loss.

While these fees may sound like a lot, a gold IRA is invaluable to your portfolio. To better manage fees, it's important to thoroughly research who you'll choose to work with and get all fees in writing for your records.

Are there any tax benefits to rolling over my TSP?

When you roll over your TSP, you get to benefit from tax deferral because you're able to keep making contributions for as long as you have income. Moreover, rolling over your TSP assets to a self-directed IRA gives you the option to convert part or all of your assets to a Roth IRA.

Can I take possession of IRA gold?

It is prohibited to hold your precious metals yourself, such as in your home. By doing so, you will be violating transaction laws.

If you are caught by the IRS, they can disqualify your IRA and charge you income taxes on all of the assets you have in the account. Moreover, you'll face significant penalties.

Whenever you decide to open a precious metals IRA, the metals should never touch your hands. Instead, your precious metals must be held by an authorized custodian.

What metals can I include in my gold IRA?

After you've successfully converted your gold IRA, you will need to think about buying metals to be held in your new IRA account.

Note that not all forms of gold and precious metals are eligible for IRAs. For instance, items like jewelry and collectibles are not permissible. Only items that have been approved by the IRS can be added to a gold IRA. Luckily, the IRS has provided guidelines for investors to follow:

  • Gold must be 99.5% pure. Silver needs to be 99.9% pure. Platinum and palladium must be 99.95% each.
  • Bars, rounds, and coins need to be produced by a refiner, assayer, or manufacturer that has been certified.
  • Proof coins need to be in complete, original mint packaging. Coins must also be in excellent condition and include a certificate of authenticity.
  • Small bullion bars must be manufactured to exact weight specifications.
  • Non-proof coins must be in brilliant, uncirculated condition and free from damage.

Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular authorized coins:

  • 1. American Gold, Platinum, Palladium, and Silver Eagles
  • 2. American Gold Buffalo (uncirculated)
  • 3. Canadian Maple Leaf Coins
  • 4. Austrian Gold and Silver Philharmonics
  • 5. Australian Kangaroo 6. British 'Queen's Beast's'

Converting a TSP to a gold IRA is an excellent way to diversify your portfolio, manage your wealth, and grow your earnings.

If you plan to convert your TSP, be sure to thoroughly research the best self-directed IRA provider who can assist you in the process.

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