Published Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at: 7:00 AM EDT
The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act of 2018 (TCJA) gives you more good reasons to help your children, grandchildren, great nieces and nephews. Any amount you give to a 529 account that's used to pay for qualified expenses for college as well as private or religious schooling before college is deductible. With tax reform eliminating all or a large chunk of state income-tax deductions for many individuals in 2018, giving to a 529 lightens your state income-tax load while perhaps changing a life of a family member or friend and influencing their values.
If a child in your family is affected by autism, ADHD, opioids, or any other modern maladies, you have new ways to benefit from the privilege of helping children with special needs.
The average annual rate of college inflation was double the overall inflation rate for the past decade, according to College Board data, and 529 assets hit $279 billion in 2016, according to College Savings Plan Network - up almost 160% from 10 years earlier, as parents tried to keep pace with rising college costs.
Enacted two decades ago, Section 529 plans have become popular because contributions grow tax-free and withdrawals for tuition, books, room and board are also tax-free. No limits are imposed on contributions, but your 529 may not exceed the estimated cost of a beneficiary's education expenses.
Many states let you deduct 529 contributions from state income tax, and some also allow deductions made to out-of-state 529 plans. Almost all states offer 529s and permit out-of-state residents to invest. Here's how the new tax overhaul encourages 529 savings:
Savings on state income tax lowers federal liability. To the horror of high-tax states, federal deductions for state income, property and sales tax were limited for 2018, and annually through 2026, with a $10,000 limitation. Still, 41 states have an income tax and New Hampshire and Tennessee tax dividends and other investment income, and about three dozen states allow deductions for 529 contributions. Your gifts to 529s lower your income subject to federal as well as state income tax, easing the pain of losing the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
Paying for private school tuition. 529s to pay for kindergarten through 12th grade are now permitted, but you must check to see if your state allows you to deduct 529s used to pay for private schools.
Consider financial aid. A 529 might hurt a child's chances for financial aid at private high school. However, 529s do not penalize an applicant for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for college.
Children with special needs. This bolsters a federal tax break for those who become blind or disabled before age 26. It also covers education for modern maladies, like ADHD and autism. Enacted in 2014, ABLE accounts make gifts to individuals with special needs eligible for tax-free growth in 529 accounts. The 529 accounts are not figured into eligibility for Medicaid, Social Security income or Supplement Security Income (SSI) payments.
Deduct up to $15,000 a year by giving to an ABLE account from a 529. Spouses get twice as much benefit. Withdrawals are tax-free for qualified expenses, like employment training, housing, fighting autism, ADHD and overcoming disabilities.
If you have the privilege to be able to help the next generation and want to finance religious school, military training, or help a child with special needs, this is a loophole for you. Please let us know if we can assist you with making this happen.
This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Advisor Products and is not intended as legal or investment advice.