A significant benefit of a section 529 plan is the ability to grow income tax free until amounts are distributed for a “qualified higher education expense,” which now includes tuition and other expenses for attendance at K-12 Catholic schools. Thus, the change benefits those who can and do take advantage of 529 plans.
What is a “529” plan?
A 529 plan is a special, tax-advantaged account designed to encourage saving for college. The federal tax advantage is that earnings on funds contributed to 529 accounts are not federally taxed.
Example: Parent deposits $1,000 into a child's 529 account at birth. The 529 account is worth $2,500 when the child attends college. If the $2,500 is properly used to pay college expenses, there is no federal tax on the $1,500 earned.
Why are you telling me this? What’s changed?
While 529 accounts have been available for use toward paying college expenses for decades, effective 1/1/2018 federal law expands the allowable use of 529s to include K-12 expenses.
What can I do?
Consult with your personal accountant or financial adviser to determine if a 529 account is appropriate for you.
Top 5 questions to ask your tax advisor now:
1. Is a 529 account right for me?
2. What are the specific benefits and limitations of 529 accounts in my state?
3. Am I better off waiting until my state clarifies its 529 rules before taking action?
4. What impact do 529 savings have on financial aid?
5. What is the interplay between 529 contributions and gift tax limits?
This is a community service update. It is not tax advice. Consult with your tax adviser to determine your best course of action.