Sullivan & Company - Certified Public Accountants 4709 Montgomery Lane #201 - Bethesda, MD, 20814 Phone: 301-657-8080

       

 



 



 

Other Articles

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This Month's Feature Articles

 

- Saving for Education: 529 Plans

- Tax Consequences of Crowdfunding

- Filing an Amended Return

- Tax Breaks for Businesses Hiring New Employees

- Seasonal Employees and Taxes

 

Tax Tips

 

- HSA Limits Increase for 2019

- New Scam Targets Non-resident Aliens

- What to do if you get a Letter from the IRS

- Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program to End this Year

- Employer Credit for Family and Medical Leave



 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving For Education: 529 Plans + New Free Tax & Financial Question Hotline: 240-316-3611


 

Many parents are looking for ways to save for their child's education and a 529 Plan is an excellent way to do so.

Even better, is that thanks to the passage of tax reform legislation in 2017, 529 plans are now available to parents wishing to save for their child's K-12 education as well as college or vocational school.

You may open a Section 529 plan in any state, and there are no income restrictions for the individual opening the account. Contributions, however, must be in cash and the total amount must not be more than is reasonably needed for higher education (as determined initially by the state). There may also be a minimum investment required to open the account, typically, $25 or $50.

Each 529 Plan has a Designated Beneficiary (the future student) and an Account Owner. The account owner may be a parent or another person and typically is the principal contributor to the program. The account owner is also entitled to choose (as well as change) the designated beneficiary.
 


Neither the account owner or beneficiary may direct investments, but the state may allow the owner to select a type of investment fund (e.g., fixed income securities), change the investment annually as well as when the beneficiary is changed. The account owner decides who gets the funds (can pick and change the beneficiary) and is legally allowed to withdraw funds at any time, subject to tax and penalties (more about this below).

Unlike some of the other tax-favored higher education programs such as the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits, federal tax law doesn't limit the benefit only to tuition. Room, board, lab fees, books, and supplies can be purchased with funds from your 529 Savings Account. Individual state programs could have a more narrow definition, however, so be sure to check with your particular state.

 



TAX-FREE DISTRIBUTIONS

Distributions from 529 plans are tax-free as long as they are used to pay qualified higher education expenses for a designated beneficiary. Distributions are tax-free even if the student is claiming the American Opportunity Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, or tax-free treatment for a Section 530 Coverdell distribution--provided the programs aren't covering the same specific expenses. Qualified expenses include tuition, required fees, books, supplies, equipment, and special needs services. For someone who is at least a half-time student, room and board also qualify. Also, starting in 2018, "qualified higher education expenses" include up to $10,000 in annual expenses for tuition in connection with enrollment or attendance at an elementary or secondary public, private, or religious school.

Note: Qualified expenses also include computers and related equipment used by a student while enrolled at an eligible educational institution; however, software designed for sports, games, or hobbies does not qualify unless it is predominantly educational in nature.


 


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Income Tax. Contributions made by the account owner or other contributor are not deductible for federal income tax purposes, but many states offer deductions or credits. Earnings on contributions grow tax-free while in the program. Distribution for a purpose other than qualified education is taxed to the one receiving the distribution.

 

In addition, a 10 percent penalty must be imposed on the taxable portion of the distribution, comparable to the 10 percent penalty in Section 530 Coverdell plans. Also, the account owner may change the beneficiary designation from one to another in the same family. Funds in the account roll over tax-free for the benefit of the new beneficiary.

Gift Tax. For gift tax purposes, contributions are treated as completed gifts even though the account owner has the right to withdraw them - thus they qualify for the up-to-$15,000 annual gift tax exclusion. One contributing more than $15,000 may elect to treat the gift as made in equal installments over that year and the following four years, so that up to $75,000 can be given tax-free in the first year.

Estate Tax. Funds in the account at the designated beneficiary's death are included in the beneficiary's estate - another odd result, since those funds may not be available to pay the tax. Funds in the account at the account owner's death are not included in the owner's estate, except for a portion thereof where the gift tax exclusion installment election is made for gifts over $15,000. For example, if the account owner made the election for a gift of $75,000 in 2018, a part of that gift is included in the estate if he or she dies within five years.




 

Tip: A Section 529 program can be an especially attractive estate-planning move for grandparents. There are no income limits, and the account owner giving up to $75,000 avoids gift tax and estate tax by living five years after the gift, yet has the power to change the beneficiary.

State Tax. State tax rules are all over the map. Some reflect the federal rules, some quite different rules. For specifics of each state's program, see http://www.collegesavings.org.

PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE

Considering the differences among state plans, the complexity of federal and state tax laws, and the dollar amounts at stake, please call the office and speak to a tax and accounting professional before opening a 529 plan.


QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions about saving for education and 529 plans, don't hesitate to call the office at 301-657-8080.

 

DID YOU KNOW that Sullivan & Company manages Pension Funds, Retirement Plans & Taxable Accounts through Archer Investment Corporation & Fidelity Investments for our clients.
Fidelity is the custodian for more retirement plans than any other custodian in the United States.


Let Sullivan & Company Analyze Your Asset Allocation & Risk Tolerance for FREE!
Call 301-657-8080 today!

 


 

 Wealth Management at Sullivan & Co. CPAs

Paul Sullivan leads our Wealth Management Group and is here to help you navigate your financial future.

 

As Investment Advisor Representatives, he and our Wealth Management team are able to provide an independent opinion on the investments you already own or are considering buying.

 

We can structure a portfolio based on your risk tolerance or we can help you decide how to invest in your company 401(k) plan.

 

We work with each client to identify their concerns and to provide solutions according to their situation.

Paul is also experienced in company retirement plans. If you own a business that does not have a plan; we can discuss your options and set up a plan that fits your company.

 

If your business already has a plan; we offer a free evaluation of the plan to ensure that it is up to date and working well for you and your employees.

Our goal is to provide personal, unbiased and independent advice to help you make well-informed decisions about your financial life and investments.

Contact Chris Bailey, CPA, MBA, IAR or Paul Sullivan, CPA, IAR to set up a free initial consultation (301) 657-8080.

And as always if you have any questions about accounting or investments and how they effect you or your business, please give us a call. We can help guide you in the right direction.

 


 

Remember you can call our offices if you have any questions about these or any other accounting, tax, financial planning or insurance related issues, at 301-657-8080. 

 

Regards, Paul Sullivan, CPA, IAR

President, Sullivan & Company

 

 

 

 

Sullivan & Company, CPAs | 4709 Montgomery Lane | Bethesda, MD 20814 www.eSullivan.net | email: pSullivan@eSullivan.net
Direct: 240-316-3531 | Main no.: 301-657-8080 Ext 102 | Fax: 301-657-9055