IRS to Publish New Proposed Regulations for 529 Plans

The IRS has announced that it will soon propose new regulations governing 529 College Savings Plans, which will (I) contain an anti-abuse rule (to prevent using 529 Plans to skirt gift tax rules); (II) determine the estate, gift and GST tax results of contributions, transfers and withdrawals; and (III) create rules for making the 5 year election, address certain income tax issues, and create new record keeping requirements.

Here’s the example the IRS gives as an abuse – quite a clever technique!:

Grandparents want to gift $1 million to a child without using any of their $1 million lifetime exclusion. So, the grandparents establish 529 Plan accounts for each of their 10 grandchildren, placing $120,000 in each (the $12,000 annual exclusion, times 2 for 2 grandparents, times 5 to use the 5 year averaging rule) times the number of grandchildren, and naming the child as the account owner. After the 5 years, the child designates a new beneficiary for each account, naming himself. Since Section 529 provides that no gift occurs if the new beneficiary is in the same family and at the same or a higher generational level, the grandparents have succeeded in giving the child $1.2 million without using any of their applicable exclusion.

The child would have to pay income tax and a penalty on any growth when withdrawals are used for non-educational expenses, but overall it would save the family a lot of tax.

Source: North Carolina Estate Planning Blog and IRS’ new proposed regulations governing 529 College Savings Plans