Coverdell Education Savings Accounts Can Make Education Costs Less Taxing

The Coverdell Education Savings Account is an incentive to help parents and students save for education. Up to $2,000 may be contributed to a child’s Coverdell ESA each year; the limit was $500 before 2002. Earnings on contributions will be distributed tax free, provided that they are used to pay the beneficiary’s elementary or secondary school or college education expenses.

Any individual who meets adjusted gross income (AGI) requirements can make a non-deductible contribution on behalf of a child under the age of 18. The AGI requirements are $95,000 for single taxpayers and $190,000 for married taxpayers. The $2,000 annual contribution limit is phased out for single taxpayers with AGI of $95,000 to $110,000 and for joint filers with AGI of $190,000 to $220,000.

While a child may be the beneficiary of any number of Coverdell ESAs, the total contributions for the child during any tax year cannot exceed $2,000.

Contributions to a Coverdell ESA may be made until the due date of the contributor’s return, without extensions.

Distributions are tax-free as long as they are used for qualified education expenses, such as tuition, books, fees, etc. This income exclusion is not available for any expenses for which the Hope credit or the lifetime learning credit is claimed for that student. If the distribution exceeds education expenses, a portion will be taxable to the beneficiary and will be subject to a 10 percent tax penalty. Exceptions to the penalty include death, disability or if the beneficiary receives a qualified scholarship.

If there is a balance in the Coverdell ESA at the time the beneficiary reaches 30 years old, it must be distributed within 30 days. A portion representing earnings on the account will be taxable and subject to a 10 percent penalty. The beneficiary may avoid this tax and penalty by rolling over the full balance to another Coverdell ESA for another family member.

For more information, check out Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Higher Education. It’s available by calling toll free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).


This daily Tax Tip has been provided by the IRS

Note: These tips are provided to help trigger ideas on ways to minimize your tax burden, not as a substitute for professional advice. There is no "one-size-fits-all" answer - each taxpayer's situation is different. You should contact your tax preparer to determine together how this may affect your unique situation.

You may like these other stories...

Starting in October, the IRS will send warning letters to tax return preparers who appear not to be complying with Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) due diligence requirements.Section 6695(g) of the Internal Revenue Code...
BKD LLP adds Illinois accounting firm Wolf & Co.Springfield, Missouri-based CPA and advisory firm BKD LLP and Chicago-based accounting firm Wolf & Co. have agreed to merge, the firms announced on Monday. Wolf will...
A new government report on Monday found that the IRS may not be completing the required research steps in collecting delinquent taxes before considering the cases “not collectible.”The Treasury Inspector General...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 9In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards.
Oct 15This webinar presents the requirements of AU-C 600, Audits of Group Financial Statements (Including the Work of Component Auditors).
Oct 21Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience’s communication style.
Oct 23Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.