The Pros and Cons of the Coverdell ESA for College
As you're setting up investment plans for your child's college, it's smart to be aware of the pros and cons of the Coverdell ESA for College. This educational savings account is a very attractive savings plan for many people. Let's take a look at some of the negatives and positives of this program and so you can see if it's a fit for you.
Pro- The Coverdell Education Savings Account can be self-directed with a wider array of investment products available than a 529 plan. The account can be placed in almost any sort of investment. Typically, stocks, bonds, bank CDs, mutual funds and unit investment trusts. No part of trust assets may be invested in life insurance contracts.
Pro- The Coverdell funds are available to finance elementary and secondary school, not just college. This includes items such as tuition, fees, tutoring, books, supplies, room and board, uniforms, transportation and computers.
Pro- Earnings accumulate tax-free. Qualified distributions are exempt from federal income tax. Please note that contributions are not deductible on federal or state income tax.
Pro- Corporations may contribute. This even includes tax-exempt organizations. Regardless of income level, corporations may contribute to an individuals Coverdell account.
Pro- People can contribute to both a Coverdell account and a section 529 plan in the same year. Note that there may a gift tax implication if you give more that ,000 per beneficiary.
Con- Contributions to the Coverdell ESA are limited to 00 per beneficiary per year. Here's an example, you have a son and a daughter that you want to contribute 00 into Coverdell accounts for. You deposit 00 to your son's account and 00 into your daughter's. Their grandmother wishes to add another 00 but she is only allowed to put 0 into your daughters account as the 00 limit has been reached. At 00 a year, it would be tough to have this be your entire college savings plan.
Con- Contributions can only be made until the beneficiary reaches age 18. This may be a non-issue with some families but a 529 plan would allow you greater flexibility. There are no age restrictions for special needs beneficiaries.
Con- The money must be used by the time the child reaches the age of 30. If the funds are not used, the earnings will be taxed as ordinary income plus a 10% penalty.
Con- There is less flexibility in changing beneficiaries in a Coverdell ESA. Coverdell plans are considered permanent gifts. You cannot open up an account for your child and take back the money for your own use. Typically, the parents are responsible for the account until the child reaches 18. Then, the beneficiary usually takes control of the account. There is some ability to change beneficiaries.
Con- The Coverdell ESA is not eligible for the state tax deductions available for some 529 plans. The available 529 state tax deductions vary from state to state. Of course, a tax deduction is not the only reason to select an investment.
Con- The contribution limit is phased out for contributors with an adjusted gross income between ,000 and 0,000 for single people and between 0,000 and 0, 000 for joint filers. A clever way around this con if you're in this income bracket is to give the money to your child and let her open a Coverdell for herself.
After looking at the pros and cons of the Coverdell education savings fund, you can see if this is a wise investment for your child. The items that have been identified as cons are non-issues for many people. Coverdell is a good investment overall for most families. Talk with your tax profession and see if it's right for you.