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Section 529 Plans

Section 529 plans are a popular education-funding tool because of tax and other benefits. Two types are available: 1) prepaid tuition plans, and 2) savings plans. And one of these plans got even better under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA).

Enjoy valuable benefits

529 plans provide a tax-advantaged way to help pay for qualifying education expenses.

The 2018 gift tax return deadline is almost here

Did you make large gifts to your children, grandchildren or other heirs last year? If so, it’s important to determine whether you’re required to file a 2018 gift tax return — or whether filing one would be beneficial even if it isn’t required.

Filing requirements

Generally, you must file a gift tax return for 2018 if, during the tax year, you made gifts:

That exceeded the $15,000-per-recipient gift tax annual exclusion (other than to your U.S. citizen spouse),
That you wish to split with your spouse to take advantage of your combined $30,000 annual exclusion,
That exceeded the $152,000 annual exclusion for gifts to a noncitizen spouse,
To a Section 529 college savings plan and wish to accelerate up to five years’ worth of annual exclusions ($75,000) into 2018,
Of future interests — such as remainder interests in a trust — regardless of the amount, or
Of jointly held or community property.

Sudden impact: When a spouse unexpectedly dies

What if the unthinkable happens and your spouse dies unexpectedly? As the surviving spouse, there are several steps you need to take during this difficult time. For example, secure copies of the death certificate and inform life insurance companies and the Social Security Administration of the death.

You may be able to save more for retirement in 2019

Retirement plan contribution limits are indexed for inflation, and many have gone up for 2019, giving you opportunities to increase your retirement savings:

Elective deferrals to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans: $19,000 (up from $18,500)
Contributions to defined contribution plans: $56,000 (up from $55,000)
Contributions to SIMPLEs: $13,000 (up from $12,500)
Contributions to IRAs: $6,000 (up from $5,500)

One exception is catch-up contributions for taxpayers age 50 or older, which remain at the same levels as for 2018:

Catch-up contributions to 401(k), 403(b), 457(b)(2) and 457(c)(1) plans: $6,000
Catch-up contributions to SIMPLEs: $3,000
Catch-up contributions to IRAs: $1,000

Keep in mind that additional factors may affect how much you’re allowed to contribute (or how much your employer can contribute on your behalf). For example, income-based limits may reduce or eliminate your ability to make Roth IRA contributions or to make deductible traditional IRA contributions.

What will your marginal income tax rate be?

While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) generally reduced individual tax rates for 2018 through 2025, some taxpayers could see their taxes go up due to reductions or eliminations of certain tax breaks — and, in some cases, due to their filing status. But some may see additional tax savings due to their filing status.

Check deductibility before making year-end charitable gifts

 

As the holidays approach and the year draws to a close, many taxpayers make charitable gifts — both in the spirit of the season and as a year-end tax planning strategy. But with the tax law changes that go into effect in 2018 and the many rules that apply to the charitable deduction, it’s a good idea to check deductibility before making any year-end donations.