In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax-cut package, became law. College students and their parents dodged a major bullet with the legislation, as initial drafts of the bill included the elimination of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the student loan interest deduction. Also on the table in early drafts of the bill was the taxation of tuition waivers, which are used primarily by graduate students and employees of higher-education institutions. In the end, none of these provisions made it into the final legislation. What did make the final cut was the expanded use of 529 plans.
In a previous article, we explained how Private School Tuition is Now a Qualified Education Expense for 529 Plans. Below is another way 529 Plans can be used.
Expansion of 529 Plans to Allow Transfers to ABLE Accounts
The new tax legislation also allows 529 account owners to roll over (transfer) funds from a 529 plan to an ABLE plan without federal tax consequences. This ability to transfer funds will expire at the end of 2025 unless a future Congress acts to extend the law.
An ABLE plan is a tax-advantaged account that can be used to save for disability-related expenses for individuals who become blind or disabled before age 26. Like 529 plans, ABLE plans allow funds to accumulate tax deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free when used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified disability expenses, which may include (but are not limited to) housing, transportation, health care and related services, personal assistance, and employment training and support.
ABLE accounts have annual and lifetime contribution limits. Contributions from all donors combined during the year cannot exceed the annual gift tax exclusion ($15,000 in 2018). As for lifetime limits, each state sets its own limit, which is also the state’s maximum for its 529 college savings plan contributions. In most states, this limit is at least $350,000.
A list of ABLE plans offered, by state, and a comparison tool are available at ablenrc.org.
If you have questions, contact the experts at Henssler Financial: