President Obama is proposing a radical change to the 529 college savings plans held by millions of families, which would require those who use them to rethink their approach to college savings.
As part of his plan to simplify the tax code and help the middle class, one of the 529 plan’s most attractive benefits would be eliminated: Money could no longer be withdrawn tax-free. (The new rules would apply only to new contributions.)
The accounts, many of which are run by the states, allow people to make contributions that grow tax-free. The money can be withdrawn without the paying of capital gains taxes as long as the proceeds are used for education expenses. Many states provide state income tax deductions for contributions as well.
“I was very surprised by the Obama 529 proposal because in many ways it is anti-middle class for families trying to afford college,” said Joe Hurley, founder of the SavingforCollege.com website. “And so much of the emphasis in the Obama administration has been pro-middle class.”