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Last Updated on December 4, 2023

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are a popular method of saving for retirement in the United States. A Gold IRA is a type of self-directed IRA that allows investors to hold physical gold as part of their retirement savings.

While gold IRAs are subject to many of the same rules as traditional and Roth IRAs, they also have unique regulations surrounding distributions.

In this article we’ll discuss the distribution rules for gold IRAs, touching on important aspects such as the age at which you can cash out, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs), possession of the physical gold, fees, tax implications, and other considerations for cashing out.

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At What Age Can You Cash Out Your Gold IRA?

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Much like a traditional IRA, the IRS has set specific age-related rules for distributions from gold IRAs (learn more). The earliest age at which you can withdraw funds without incurring a penalty is 59 and a half years old.

If you take distributions before this age, you may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty on the amount withdrawn, in addition to the regular income taxes that apply to the withdrawal.

However, there are certain exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, such as:

  1. Disability
  2. First-time home purchase (up to a $10,000 lifetime limit)
  3. Higher education expenses
  4. Unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding a specified percentage of your adjusted gross income
  5. Health insurance premiums if you’re unemployed

Do You Have to Take a RMD from a Gold IRA?

Gold IRAs, like traditional IRAs, are subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) once the account holder reaches the age of 72. The RMD is the minimum amount you must withdraw from your IRA each year, beginning in the year you turn 72. This rule does not apply to Roth IRAs, which do not have RMDs.

RMDs are calculated based on the account holder’s life expectancy and the value of the IRA, including the value of the gold held within the account. The IRS provides life expectancy tables to help determine the RMD amount.

Can You Actually Take Possession of the Physical Gold?

One unique aspect of a gold IRA is the option to take possession of the physical gold when you cash out. However, there are strict rules surrounding this process. The IRS only allows certain types of gold bullion or coins to be held within a gold IRA, which must meet specific purity standards.

When taking a distribution from a gold IRA, you have two options:

  1. Sell the gold and receive the cash equivalent
  2. Take possession of the physical gold

If you choose to take possession of the gold at retirement, it will be considered a distribution, and you’ll be required to pay taxes on the fair market value of the gold at the time of the distribution. This is considered a taxable event, and you will be responsible for reporting the distribution on your tax return.

Fees and Tax Implications

When cashing out of a gold IRA, there are various fees and tax implications to consider. Some of these include:

  1. Early withdrawal penalty: If you withdraw funds before the age of 59 and a half, you may face a 10% early withdrawal penalty, in addition to regular income taxes, unless an exception applies.
  2. Income tax: Distributions from gold IRAs are taxed as ordinary income at your current tax rate. The tax rate may be higher or lower, depending on your tax bracket and overall financial situation.
  3. Storage and custodian fees: Gold IRA custodians typically charge annual fees for maintaining and storing the physical gold. These fees may increase the overall cost of owning a gold IRA compared to traditional IRAs.
  4. Liquidation fees: Some gold IRA custodians may charge a fee for liquidating your gold holdings when you decide to cash out. It’s essential to be aware of these fees, as they can impact your overall return on investment.
  5. Shipping and insurance fees: If you choose to take possession of the physical gold when cashing out, you may incur additional shipping and insurance fees to securely transport the gold to you.

Other Factors to Consider When Cashing Out of Your Gold IRA

Before deciding to cash out of your gold IRA, there are several factors you should consider:

  1. Diversification: Gold IRAs are often used as a diversification tool within a larger retirement portfolio. Cashing out may impact your overall asset allocation and investment strategy.
  2. Market conditions: The price of gold can be volatile and may fluctuate over time. If you need to cash out when the gold market is down, you might not receive the full value of your investment.
  3. Inflation protection: Gold has historically been considered a hedge against inflation. By cashing out your gold IRA, you may be sacrificing some of the potential protection against rising prices and the erosion of your purchasing power.
  4. Estate planning: If you’re considering passing on your gold IRA to your heirs, be aware that the beneficiaries will be subject to the same distribution rules, including RMDs and potential tax implications – learn more about inherited IRAs.
  5. Timing and tax implications: Timing your gold IRA cash-out is crucial to minimize tax liabilities. If you expect to be in a lower tax bracket in the future, it might be worth waiting to cash out to reduce the taxes you’ll owe on the distribution. Additionally, if you anticipate needing the funds within a specific timeframe, plan your withdrawal accordingly to avoid early withdrawal penalties and potential market downturns.
  6. Emotional attachment: Some investors may develop an emotional attachment to their physical gold holdings. It’s essential to objectively assess the financial benefits and drawbacks of cashing out your gold IRA to avoid making an emotional decision that could negatively impact your financial well-being.
  7. Alternative investment options: When cashing out a gold IRA, it’s important to consider alternative investment options for the proceeds. Evaluate the performance and growth potential of other assets and investment vehicles to ensure you’re reallocating your funds effectively to meet your retirement goals.
  8. Potential penalties and fees: Be aware of any penalties and fees associated with cashing out your gold IRA. Some gold IRA providers might have specific rules and fees regarding early withdrawals or liquidation. Familiarize yourself with the provider’s policies and procedures to avoid unnecessary costs.
  9. Changes in financial goals or personal circumstances: Life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or a change in employment status may impact your financial goals and retirement planning. Consider how cashing out your gold IRA fits into your evolving financial situation and whether it aligns with your long-term objectives.
  10. Regulatory changes: Legislation and tax laws can change over time, potentially affecting gold IRA rules and regulations. Keep an eye on potential changes to the tax code or IRA regulations that may impact your decision to cash out your gold IRA.
  11. Professional advice: Before making any decisions regarding cashing out your gold IRA, it’s advisable to consult with a financial planner, tax advisor, or legal professional. These experts can help you evaluate your specific circumstances and provide guidance on the best course of action based on your financial goals and needs.


Gold IRAs offer a unique opportunity for investors to hold physical gold as part of their retirement savings.

While they share many distribution rules with traditional and Roth IRAs, gold IRAs also have specific regulations that investors should be aware of before cashing out.

You can generally cash out your gold IRA without penalty at the age of 59 and a half, and you must begin taking RMDs at the age of 72. When cashing out, you can either sell the gold and receive the cash equivalent or take possession of the physical gold. However, be aware of the fees and tax implications associated with both options.

Before deciding to cash out of your gold IRA, consider factors such as diversification, market conditions, inflation protection, and estate planning.

By carefully evaluating your situation and understanding the rules surrounding gold IRA distributions, you can make informed decisions that align with your financial goals and retirement planning strategy.

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