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  • Michael J. Conard, Jr. EA

Tax Planning for College Savings: How to Utilize 529 Plans and Other Education Savings Accounts

As a CPA firm based in De Pere, we understand the challenges many families face when saving for their children's college education. With the cost of higher education continually rising, it's more important than ever to start planning early. One effective way to prepare for these expenses is through 529 plans and other education savings accounts.

A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed specifically for education expenses. In De Pere, we have seen a growing interest in these plans as they offer significant tax benefits. Contributions to a 529 plan are not deductible on your federal tax return, but the investment grows tax-deferred, and distributions used for the beneficiary’s college costs are federally tax-free. This makes 529 plans an attractive option for many families in our community.

In the Green Bay area, including De Pere, the state offers additional tax incentives for 529 contributions. Wisconsin residents can deduct a portion of their 529 contributions from their state income taxes, further enhancing the tax benefits of these plans. It's important to note that while 529 plans are a popular choice, they are not the only option for college savings. Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), for instance, offer tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses, but have lower contribution limits compared to 529 plans.

When it comes to tax prep for college savings, it’s crucial to consider the impact on your overall financial plan. In De Pere and the wider Green Bay area, our firm advises clients on how to integrate college savings into their broader tax strategies. This includes understanding how your savings might affect financial aid eligibility and exploring other tax credits and deductions related to education expenses, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

A key aspect of effective tax prep is staying informed about changes in tax laws that may affect education savings. In Green Bay and its surrounding areas, state and federal tax laws can change, impacting the benefits of different savings strategies. As CPAs, we keep abreast of these changes to provide our clients with up-to-date advice. It’s also important to tailor your college savings plan to your specific financial situation and goals. Every family’s needs are unique, and what works for one household in De Pere may not be the best strategy for another in Green Bay.

In conclusion, saving for college is a significant financial goal for many families in De Pere, Green Bay, and beyond. Utilizing tax-advantaged savings accounts like 529 plans can make a substantial difference in your ability to meet this goal. As part of your tax prep strategy, it’s important to consider all your options and stay informed about the latest tax laws and benefits. By planning ahead and seeking professional advice, you can navigate the complexities of college savings and pave the way for a brighter educational future for your loved ones.

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