Taxes on College Savings Accounts

Scarsdale accountant Paul Herman of Herman & Company CPA’s has all the answers to your personal finance questions!

In recent years, parents have lent an ear to a similar tune: Take the reins of any and every type of tax-advantaged savings account in order to save for your children’s enormous college bills. The message has resonated very clear. A majority of families are now saving for college using on average two types of college savings vehicles. Almost 16% of households are using three. College Savings and Taxes Tips from Scarsdale AccountantOften, this mix includes the more traditional accounts, such as Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA), as well as tax-deferred education programs like 529 Savings Plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Alternatively, other households are investing in a combination of aforementioned tax-advantaged plans, and taxable brokerage accounts.

There is a scary measure to this story: After spending several years trying to decipher UGMAs, ESAs, IRAs, and 529s to figure out the best path, parents face the equally confusing task of determining how to properly utilize these accounts under the tax code when their child is ready for college. Even for those parents with consolidated accounts, determining how to distribute these savings is not cut and dry. The decision could dictate financial aid grants, as well as affect the household’s tax rate.

Aid considerations are a big reason that planners suggest that parents holding traditional custodial accounts like UGMAs deplete those first to pay for initial college costs. The reasoning is that money saved in a custodial account is held in the child’s name to take advantage of his/her lower tax bracket. Furthermore, anything held in a child’s name considered “for college money” as opposed to monies held by parents (35 percent of the student’s assets are considered “tuition eligible” while only 5.6 percent of the parental assets are considered).

This is just one area in which choosing the correct 529 plan can diminish your tax liability. Please contact our Westchester CPA firm with any further questions about your secondary education questions and to receive your free personal finance consultation!

Herman and Company CPA’s proudly serves Scarsdale NY, Katonah NY, Mount Kisco NY, Rye NY, Bedford NY and beyond.

 Photo Credit: Tax Credits via Photopin cc

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Any U.S. tax advice contained in the body of this website is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by the recipient for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code or applicable state or local tax law provisions.