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H.R. 529 (115th): 529 and ABLE Account Improvement Act of 2017

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 13, 2017.

529 and ABLE Account Improvement Act of 2017

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to modify the tax treatment of qualified tuition programs (known as 529 plans) and ABLE accounts. (Tax-favored ABLE [Achieving a Better Life Experience] accounts are designed to enable individuals with disabilities to save for and pay for disability-related expenses.)

The bill excludes from gross income a fringe benefit consisting of up to $100 per year (adjusted for inflation after 2017) of employer contributions to an employee's 529 or ABLE account. The employer contribution must be made: (1) to an account for which the designated beneficiary is the employee or a member of the employee's family, and (2) in connection with a payroll deduction contribution program established by the employer.

The bill also: (1) expands the tax credit for small employer pension plan startup costs to include the costs of establishing a payroll deduction contribution program for 529 plans and ABLE accounts,(2) permits 529 funds to be used for education loan payments or charitable contributions without being subject to the additional tax for distributions that are not used for qualified higher education expenses, and (3) permits tax-free rollovers of funds between 529 and ABLE accounts for the benefit of the same beneficiary or a family member of the beneficiary.

For the purpose of current law restrictions on the frequency of investment directions that a beneficiary or contributor may provide for a 529 or ABLE account, rebalancing investments among broad-based investment strategies established under the program is not an investment direction unless the beneficiary or contributor directs the specific investments within the strategies.