Rolling A 529 Into Something Else
529 plans are tax-advantaged savings accounts designed to save for educational costs such as college or graduate school tuition fees or apprenticeship programs.
Federal rules allow one tax-free rollover per beneficiary per 12-month period; any subsequent rollover will be considered nonqualified distribution and subject to taxes on earnings plus a 10% penalty.
Transferring Money Between Family Members
A 529 college savings account offers you tax advantages when investing in stocks and bonds for higher education expenses such as tuition fees, room and board costs, books etc. Investment earnings are exempt from federal income taxation while many states also provide state income tax deductions to contributors.
If you withdraw funds for noneducation-related expenses, their earnings portion is subject to ordinary income taxes and a 10% penalty. Furthermore, any state tax credits or deductions received when contributing may need to be recaptured.
Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, first cousins and siblings can contribute to 529 plans at any age; your annual contributions of up to $170,000 per beneficiary do not trigger gift tax. Furthermore, beneficiaries can be changed whenever desired; just ensure the new recipient is close related. Finally, for those planning on attending college themselves there are also prepaid tuition plans which enable you to lock in future tuition rates at today’s prices.
Moving Money Between Siblings
A 529 account can be used for more than just college: its beneficiary can also include children of the original beneficiary. You can easily switch beneficiaries at any time.
Transferring money between states’ 529 plans may also be possible if both offer similar investment options (although you could encounter issues if one state offers better investments or lower fees than another). Keep in mind, though, that such transfers could trigger generation-skipping transfer taxes which vary based on jurisdiction.
Before discussing investing in your children’s future with your financial planner, it’s wise to work towards paying down consumer debt and building an emergency fund with at least 3-6 months’ expenses saved up in an emergency fund and contributing to retirement accounts like Roth IRA or 401(k). Achieve those goals first can help improve overall financial health before considering investing for their future.
Moving Money Between Grandkids
Saving for the college education of your grandchildren can be an excellent way to secure their financial future. According to a Government Accountability Office study, those with 529 accounts had 25 times more wealth than those without one. Anyone can open one and maintain control over assets when beneficiaries change.
If your state plan doesn’t offer the ideal investment options or low fees, don’t be bound to it out of loyalty; but be mindful of tax rules. The IRS allows only one tax-free rollover every 12-month period into a different plan.
Rollover funds into traditional or Roth IRAs is another option, although you will incur taxes on earnings as well as a 10% penalty if used for something other than qualified expenses (this rule applies to both 529 plans and IRAs).
Moving Money During Retirement
If your 529 funds remain undistributed after your child turns 18, there’s now an option available through the SECURE Act 2.0 to you to move them into a Roth IRA and rollover them. This provision was included as part of last year’s legislation.
A 529 account provides tax-advantaged growth on investment earnings used for qualifying educational expenses such as tuition and fees, course-related supplies, room and board and foreign university costs. Withdrawals made using funds earned in your 529 remain tax-free as long as they’re used to cover those qualifying costs.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that transfers between 529 plans must only take place once every year for the same beneficiary and must have existed for at least 15 years before you withdraw funds from them. Otherwise, income taxes and penalties of 10% would apply. Money may also be moved between different states’ 529 plans but only if their accounts have existed for at least 15 years before withdrawals occur.
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