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How To Save Money This Back To School Season

August has arrived! The time to mark your calendars for your “back to school sales tax holidays!” This sales tax holiday has provided a couple days for shoppers to ravish the malls and department stores for clothing and school supplies. Here, in South Florida, your tax breaks will cover the standard clothing and school supplies, as well as computers and tablets (priced up to $750).

Florida state Rep., Larry Ahern, stated “[w]e are trying to take some of the burden off Florida families as they prepare for their children going back to school in August.” Speaking of burden’s – if you are participating in back-to-school tax savings, your child’s college years are probably just around the corner! While you can shop ‘til you drop every year, there are other tax-planning techniques that can be used to save for your child’s college expenses, while avoiding those pesky taxes.

The 529 Plan is a tax shelter for college savings. It allows you (or really, anyone) to contribute to an account to save for a designated person’s college education (it can be anyone, including yourself), and is not subject to federal taxation. The money in the plan can be used for any qualified expenses associated with college, including room & board, books, fees, computer, internet, etc. There is no age limit for when the plan can be used, and it can roll over to another family member (if little Jimmy Jr. decides not to go to college, sister Sally can use it). You can maintain control, and appoint a guardian/trustee to manage it upon death. So not only do you avoid tax on withdrawals, but any capital gains are taxfree as well. There is no federal income tax on money in the 529-college savings plan (plus, no income tax in Florida). NOTE: you have to keep in mind that any amount that you put in the 529-plan can be considered a “gift” for transfer tax purposes. However, the “annual exclusion” for the year 2016 (this amount changes every year), allows anyone to can make up to $14,000 in gifts that are excluded from transfer taxes (which are collected upon death, and subject to an exemption that is currently in the amount of $5,450,000).

So while you are stretching your legs for the mall-marathon that will be taking place each August, take a moment to consider the significant tax-free benefits of planning ahead for your child’s college education!