Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has urged the IRS and the Treasury Department to crack down on “mega IRAs” after a Government Accountability Office report found holders of large IRAs are using alternative investment strategies such as excess contributions and undervalued assets as tax dodges.

The GAO report, released this week, noted that for tax year 2011, roughly 600,000 taxpayers had IRA accounts worth more than $1 million – and about 9,000 taxpayers had IRAs worth more than $5 million. “Those figures stand in stark contrast to most Americans, who had a median IRA account balance of about $21,000,” Wyden told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a letter.

Also read: How someone ended up with $196 million in an IRA

According to the GAO report, a “small number of taxpayers has accumulated larger IRA balances, likely by investing in assets unavailable to most investors — initially valued very low and offering disproportionately high potential investment returns if successful.”

Individuals “who invest in these assets using certain types of IRAs can escape taxation on investment gains,” the report says.

For example, “founders of companies who use IRAs to invest in nonpublicly traded shares of their newly formed companies can realize many millions of dollars in tax-favored gains on their investment if the company is successful,” the GAO explained. “With no total limit on IRA accumulations, the government forgoes millions in tax revenue. The accumulation of these large IRA balances by a small number of investors stands in contrast to Congress’s aim to prevent the tax-favored accumulation of balances exceeding what is needed for retirement.”

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to, part of your ALM digital membership.

Your access to unlimited content isn’t changing.
Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Critical information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account?



Join BenefitsPRO

Don’t miss crucial news and insights you need to navigate the shifting employee benefits industry. Join now!

  • Unlimited access to - your roadmap to thriving in a disrupted environment
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and
  • Exclusive discounts on and ALM events.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join BenefitsPRO

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.