By Chris Whalen, CPA ~
529 plans are a great vehicle to save for college tuition. Tax reform has enhanced and expanded the use of 529 funds.
What is a 529 plan?
A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future education costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.
There are two types of 529 plans: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans. All fifty states and the District of Columbia sponsor at least one type of 529 plan. In addition, a group of private colleges and universities sponsor a prepaid tuition plan.
529 Plan Tax Reform Enhancements
The PATH Act change added a special rule for a beneficiary of a 529 plan, usually a student, who receives a refund of tuition or other qualified education expenses. This can occur when a student drops a class mid-semester. If the beneficiary recontributes the refund to any of his or her 529 plans within 60 days, the refund is tax-free.
The Treasury Department and the IRS intend to issue future regulations simplifying the tax treatment of these transactions. Re-contributions would not count against the plan’s contribution limit.
One of the TCJA changes allows distributions from 529 plans to be used to pay up to a total of $10,000 of tuition per beneficiary (regardless of the number of contributing plans) each year at an elementary or secondary (k-12) public, private or religious school of the beneficiary’s choosing.
Rollovers to an ABLE account
The second TCJA change allows funds to be rolled over from a designated beneficiary’s 529 plan to an ABLE account for the same beneficiary or a family member. ABLE accounts are tax-favored accounts for certain people who become disabled before age 26, designed to enable these people and their families to save and pay for disability-related expenses.
The regulations would provide that rollovers from 529 plans, together with any contributions made to the designated beneficiary’s ABLE account (other than certain permitted contributions of the designated beneficiary’s compensation) cannot exceed the annual ABLE contribution limit — $15,000 for 2018.
For more information about 529 Plans call me directly on 732-673-0510.
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Chris Whalen, CPA
79 Oak Hill Road
Red Bank, NJ 07701