ABLE account final rules provide wide-ranging guidance

By Alistair M. Nevius, J.D.

The IRS issued final regulations on Thursday providing guidance to eligible individuals with a disability who are the owners and designated beneficiaries of ABLE accounts on a wide variety of issues involving the requirements for Sec. 529A ABLE accounts (T.D. 9923). ABLE (achieving a better life experience) accounts are tax-favored savings accounts set up under state ABLE programs to which eligible individuals can make contributions to meet qualified disability expenses.

The final regulations provide guidance on the requirements a program established and maintained by a state (or agency or instrumentality of a state) must satisfy to be considered a qualified ABLE program under Sec. 529A. They also provide guidance on the recordkeeping and reporting requirements of a qualified ABLE program.

They also address the requirements for:

  • Establishing an ABLE account;
  • Qualifying as an eligible individual and thus as a qualified designated beneficiary of an ABLE account; and
  • Contributions to an ABLE account, including the limitations on the amount and investment of those contributions.

The final regulations provide rules regarding changes in an ABLE account’s designated beneficiary and rules on rollovers and program-to-program transfers from one ABLE account to another. The final regulations also provide guidance on the gift and generation-skipping transfer tax consequences of contributions to an ABLE account, and on the federal income, gift, and estate tax consequences of distributions from, and changes in the designated beneficiary of, an ABLE account.

Sec. 529A was enacted in 2014 as part of the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, P.L. 113-295, to help families with the financial burdens of raising children with disabilities and to recognize that individuals with disabilities generally have increased financial needs throughout their lives. Contributions to an ABLE account are subject to both an annual limit and a cumulative limit and, when made by a person other than the designated beneficiary, are treated as gifts to the designated beneficiary. Distributions from an ABLE account for the qualified disability expenses of the designated beneficiary are not included in the designated beneficiary’s gross income; however, the earnings portion of distributions from an ABLE account in excess of the qualified disability expenses generally is includible in the gross income of the designated beneficiary.

The final regulations will be effective on the date they are published in the Federal Register.

Alistair M. Nevius, J.D., (Alistair.Nevius@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editor in chief, tax.

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