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IRS Eases Investment Rules for 529 College Savings Plans

Todays Date: September 25, 2018

Saving for college is always difficult and is even more so during the current economic downturn. One of the most popular college savings plans are so called “529 plans.” The IRS recently announced that participants in 529 plans will be able to change their investments more often in 2009 than in past years. The IRS will allow a change in investment strategy twice in 2009. This is good news for 529 plan participants, especially those who may otherwise be locked into a mix of investments that has turned out to be more speculative than initially contemplated.

Tax-Free Distribution Options A 529 plan, a type of qualified tuition program, allowed taxpayers to contribute to an account established for paying a student’s educational expenses. Eligible educational expenses may include the costs of tuition, books, and fees at eligible institutions, such as colleges, vocational schools, and other ostsecondary institutions.

Contributions to 529 plans are not tax-deductible. However, earnings are tax-free, and distributions used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified education xpenses are tax-free.

Be aware that A 529 plan should not be confused with a Coverdell Educational Savings Account (Coverdell ESA). A Coverdell ESA is also a savings account for education expenses that offers tax-free distributions. The funds saved in a Coverdell ESA can be used for elementary and secondary school expenses as well as college costs.

Investment Decision For the most part, participants in 529 plans must select only from among broadbased investment strategies designed exclusively by the program. The IRS has also traditionally permitted a change in investment strategy only once a year.

In response to the economic slowdown and the turmoil in the financial markets, the IRS will allow investments in a 529 plan to be changed during 2009 on a more frequent basis. A 529 plan will not violate the investment restriction if it permits a change in the investment strategy twice in calendar year 2009, as well as upon a change in the designated beneficiary of the account.

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