Over the past decade, 529 college savings plans have been the dominant vehicle for those trying to save and invest for college. The combination of tax-free growth, high contribution limits, generally reasonable expenses, and more favorable financial aid treatment than outright gifting money to children through a UGMA/UTMA account, have all added to the appeal. While alternatives have been available - like Coverdell Education Savings Accounts - the appeal was limited, due both to the relatively small contribution limits, and the potential for some of the most favorable Coverdell rules to sunset at the end of 2012 with the fiscal cliff.
With the American Taxpayer Relief Act fiscal cliff legislation making Coverdell accounts permanent, though, it is perhaps time to give them a fresh look. Unfortunately, their contribution limits remain modest compared to both what can be contributed to 529 plans, and simply the cost of college itself, so Coverdell accounts may still only be part of the college savings picture for many clients in the foreseeable future - especially given that many states provide state tax deductions or credits for 529 plans but not Coverdell accounts. Nonetheless, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts represent one of the only opportunities to save tax-free for elementary and secondary school, and in some cases may even be lower cost than 529 plans due to their greater investment flexibility. As a result, it may be time to start considering them more proactively as a potential planning tool for certain client situations.Continue reading "Coverdell Education Savings ... »