529 Plans

College-Savings Plans Make It Easy to Give a Child the Gift of Tuition

Relatives can contribute to a child's 529 college-savings plan, and in many cases they can get a tax deduction on their gift.

Question: A few of my family members would like to contribute money to my son's 529 college-savings account as a gift. How do they do this, and will they be able to get a state income tax deduction?

Answer: Many 529 administrators are making it easier for people to contribute to 529s as gifts. T. Rowe Price, for example, recently introduced a GoTuition gifting portal for its 529 accounts. An account holder can create a profile page online, then share a custom URL for family and friends to make a direct deposit from their bank into the 529 account. Several plans (such as the Colorado CollegeInvest 529, the DC College Savings Plan, College Savings Iowa and Missouri's 529 College Savings Plan) participate in the Ugift program. The program lets you sign up for a code that you can share with family and friends to enable them to contribute to the account online; they don't need to be related to the beneficiary. Go to your plan's website to find out whether it participates in the Ugift program or offers other steps that relatives and friends can take to contribute.

Tax rules vary by state. About two-thirds of states offer an income tax deduction for 529-plan contributions. You generally need to contribute to your own state's plan to get a state income tax break. But a few states, such as Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Montana and Pennsylvania, let you deduct contributions to any state's 529 plan. Most states let you deduct a contribution you make to someone else's account, but a few, such as New York, let only the account owners deduct contributions. You can find out more about your state's rules at SavingForCollege.com.

If you live in a state that offers a tax break only to account owners, see if you can qualify for the deduction by opening a separate 529 account. You may need to open the account in your own state to qualify for the tax break, unless you live in one of the states that lets you deduct contributions to any state's plan. There's no limit to the number of accounts that can name a child as a beneficiary. If the child doesn't go to college or doesn't need the money, you can switch the beneficiary to another eligible relative of the child, such as a parent, sibling or cousin. See the “Qualified Tuition Program” section of IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, for more information about 529s, as well as a full list of eligible relatives of the beneficiary and other rules.

Most Popular

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs
Coronavirus and Your Money

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs

People have lots of questions about the new $3,000 or $3,600 child tax credit and the advance payments that the IRS will send to most families in 2021…
May 4, 2021
Are You Still Chasing the Almighty Dollar, Even Though You Have Plenty to Retire?
retirement

Are You Still Chasing the Almighty Dollar, Even Though You Have Plenty to Retire?

In our experience, many have saved enough money to retire comfortably. Yet too many worry about their money running out and want more. Maybe it’s tim…
May 6, 2021
9 Tax Deadlines for May 17 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

9 Tax Deadlines for May 17 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for extension requests, IRA or HSA contributions, and other deadlines, there's more to do by May 17 than just filing your federal in…
May 4, 2021

Recommended

What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans
529 Plans

What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans

Do you know how much you’re able to contribute or what the funds could be used to pay for? How about how contributing affects your taxes? Check out th…
April 14, 2021
How to Pay Off $130,000 in Parent PLUS Loans for Just $33,000
Paying for College

How to Pay Off $130,000 in Parent PLUS Loans for Just $33,000

Meet Nate. He took out $130,000 in Parent PLUS loans for his kids. The standard repayment plan will cost him over $170,000. But some smart strategizin…
April 12, 2021
Brandon Copeland: Should Student Athletes Be Paid to Play?
Brandon Copeland

Brandon Copeland: Should Student Athletes Be Paid to Play?

During the height of March Madness, Kiplinger.com contributing editor and NFL linebacker Brandon Copeland and Casey Schwab, founder and CEO of Altius…
March 29, 2021
When Choosing Funds for Your College 529 Plan, Don’t Make This Mistake
529 Plans

When Choosing Funds for Your College 529 Plan, Don’t Make This Mistake

Age-based funds make sense for some retirement savers, but they rarely make sense for college savers, in my opinion. Here’s why. This article is part …
March 13, 2021