How to Invest in Tax Liens with Your IRA Las Vegas NV

A tax lien, or tax certificate, is a taxing unit sold by a governmental agency—usually a county—when a property owner is delinquent on property taxes. If the county needs money immediately to maintain its budget and avoid going through the foreclosure process, it can sell these notes to the public at auction.

Christopher Baum
Vannoy Advisory Group, Inc.
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How to Invest in Tax Liens with Your IRA

People invest in tax liens for myriad reasons, but a primary reason for investment in others’ delinquent property taxes is the fact that a tax certificate or lien can be purchased for an average of several hundred dollars. Compared to the several thousand dollars needed to get into most investments related to real estate and the reason for the attraction becomes obvious. Should the lien be carried to full term, investors have the opportunity to foreclose on the property itself—potentially quadrupling the initial investment.

What is a tax lien?

A tax lien, or tax certificate, is a taxing unit sold by a governmental agency—usually a county—when a property owner is delinquent on property taxes. If the county needs money immediately to maintain its budget and avoid going through the foreclosure process, it can sell these notes to the public at auction. In this way, the county gets its cash and the lien buyer walks away with a potentially excellent investment.

When purchased, tax liens give the purchaser the right to collect interest, serve notice to foreclose and obtain possession of the property when applicable.

Using self-directed IRA funds for investments

Many proponents of tax lien investing do not know that these certificates can be purchased as a part of an IRA’s investment portfolio. IRS code dictates that the only investments unavailable to an IRA are life insurance and collectibles (e.g., rugs, paintings). This means that tax liens, deeds, private loans and real estate are all possible investments for an IRA holder.

To invest in a tax lien with a retirement account, one needs only the correct account structure. Called “self-directed IRAs” or “real estate IRAs,” these accounts enable IRA account holders to direct their funds into any legitimate IRA investment, including tax liens.

Finding tax liens

To invest in a tax lien, one mus first determine where tax liens are sold. While many counties and states offer tax liens, there are several that only offer tax deeds, which are an altogether different kind of investment.

Once an investor determines that a county offers tax liens, the next step is to do research on the properties offered. As with any investment, prospective investors will want to determine if the risk is worth the reward. Many counties have websites that list the properties being offered at auction, property information and sometimes photos of the estate up for auction.

While most liens are sold at live auction, some states and counties are beginning to sell liens online. An online search on “tax liens” plus the area of consideration will most likely yield the information needed.

Bidding on tax liens

To bid on a lien, investors bid down from the guaranteed interest rate to the state or county when the taxes are eventually paid. For example, if the county charges 15 percent interest on delinquent tax...

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