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529 Plan Contribution Limits 2014

Updated on December 16, 2014

What Is A 529 Plan?

A 529 plan is a college saving plan used to help parents pay for the ever increasing cost of college tuition. Unlike other college savings strategies, there is no insurance to buy and there are no income limitations for either parents or children.

The 529 savings plan works a lot like a 401(k) plan. Money gets contributed into the 529 account where it can be invested in various financial securities including mutual funds and index funds. Funds invested in a 529 plan grow without taxes. That is all money invested into a 529 savings account grows tax-deferred. Money can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for college expenses.

The main difference between a 401(k) and a 529 plan is that 401k plans offer a way to make pre-tax contributions, which means that no taxes are paid on money invested into a 401k retirement plan. There is no such federal income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions available. However, many states offer residents who use the home state 529 plan a state income tax deduction.

You can have a 401k plan and a 529 plan because they are not related, just like you can invest in an IRA and 401k both at the same time.

529 Can Help Pay for College

Invest In 529 College Savings Plan

Every one of the 50 U.S. states have at least one 529 plan available. Many states have multiple 529 plan offerings.

The quality of 529 plans varies widely from state to state with some states having done a much better job creating a low-cost college savings plan than others. The website offers ratings from one graduation cap to five graduation caps for each 529 plan offered.

If you can figure out how to open a 529 plan account and setup an automatic investment or one-time investment yourself, be sure to avoid the advisor-sold 529 plans which have much higher fees and commissions that can eat into your college investment account returns.

There is no requirement to use the plan from your home state. Anyone can use any state plan and any state plan can be used to pay for expenses at any college. If your home plan is not a good one and there is no tax deduction offered, then use a better 529 plan from another state. If your state does offer a tax deduction for contributions, then your home plan is often the best option for you. Check and see how your fees and fund expenses stack up against other plans though, just to be sure.

2014 529 Plan Contribution Limits

Up to $14,000 can be contributed to a 529 plan without triggering any gift taxes. However, there is a special rule that allows you to front-load up to five years worth of contributions all at once. So, you could contribute $70,000 at once. However, that uses up your next five years of gift tax allowance. In other words, you would not be allowed to contribute again until year six.

Otherwise, the contributions are limited only by the maximums set by each plan. Most plans allow something in the the neighborhood of $250,000-ish as the maximum balance allowed in the plan. No 529 plan contributions are allowed after the maximum balance is reached. However, you do not have to withdraw money to stay under the maximum amount.

Remember that married couples can each contribute $14,000, so two spouses could contribute $28,000 altogether into a each child's 529 college plan.

Income limits for 529 plan contributions

Unlike many tax advantaged savings accounts, there are no income limits for contributing to a 529 plan. The only limit on contributions is how much can be invested without triggering estate taxes. Even then, if you are willing to deal with those consequences you can contribute as much as you would like.


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