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Building Your Child's Financial Future: Using Minor Roth IRAs & 529 Plans

Are you looking for smart ways to set your child up for financial success in the future, all while being tax-efficient? Two powerful options to consider are the Minor Roth IRA (or Custodial IRA) and the 529 Plan. These accounts offer tax-efficient ways to invest for your child's retirement or higher education. Let's delve into each of these options to understand how they can benefit your family's financial planning.





Minor Roth IRA: Investing in Your Child's Retirement

The Minor Roth IRA is designed to serve as a retirement account for your child, despite its "individual retirement account" designation. Setting up a Minor Roth IRA for your child requires one crucial factor: earned income. This means your child needs to have a part-time job or some form of earned income.


Once your child has earned income, you, as the parent, can open and manage the Minor Roth IRA as the custodian. The contribution limit for a Minor Roth IRA is either 100% of the child's earned income or the annual limit set by the IRS, whichever is smaller. For 2024, the contribution limit stands at $7,000, $500 more than allowed for last year.


For instance, let's say your child earned $12,000 from their part-time job last year. Unfortunately, they cannot contribute the full $12,000 to their Minor Roth IRA. Again, the limit would be $7,000, or 100% of their earnings, whichever is lower.


Additional Benefits and Strategies

Parents can get creative with a Minor Roth IRA. For instance, if you own a small business, you might be able to pay your child a legitimate income for work done, allowing them to contribute to the IRA. Parents should ensure that any income paid to their child from a small business for work done is legitimate and corresponds to fair market value. Giving your child an exorbitant amount of pay for sweeping floors would definitely raise some red flags with the IRS.


When your child reaches the age of majority, typically between 18 to 21 depending on the state, the Minor Roth IRA transitions into a regular Roth IRA. This means your child gains control over the account and its investments.


One often overlooked advantage of a Roth IRA is its flexibility. Contributions (but not earnings) can be withdrawn penalty-free if the account has been open for at least five years. This can be incredibly valuable for your child, offering them financial flexibility in emergencies or for other life events, such as qualified educational expenses and first-time home purchases. Learn more about those qualified withdrawals here.


529 Plan: Tax-Free Growth for Education Expenses

On the other hand, the 529 Plan is specifically tailored for educational expenses. It offers tax-free growth for qualified education expenses, including not just tuition but also living expenses and other educational needs like laptops or meal plans. Here are the more specific details of the qualified expenses.


One major update to the 529 Plan, thanks to the Secure Act 2.0, is the ability to roll over unused funds into a Roth IRA. This is a significant benefit, especially if your child decides not to pursue higher education or if there are remaining funds after they graduate. So if things don't quite go to plan, your money isn't forever stuck in the 529 account.


State Tax Benefits and Considerations

Another enticing aspect of the 529 Plan is the potential for state tax deductions. While contributions to a 529 Plan won't lower your federal taxes, many states offer tax incentives. For example, in Idaho (our state), single filers can reduce their state income tax liability by up to $6,000 by contributing to a 529 Plan. For married couples, this benefit doubles, allowing for even greater tax savings. Make sure to look at your state's specific rules on deductions!


Conclusion: Building a Financially Secure Future for Your Child

In conclusion, both the Minor Roth IRA and the 529 Plan present excellent opportunities to secure your child's financial future. Whether you're focused on retirement savings or preparing for educational expenses, these tax-efficient accounts offer valuable benefits.


Remember, the key is to start early. The sooner you open these accounts for your child, the more time their investments have to grow. Consult with a financial advisor to understand the specific rules and benefits based on your state and financial situation.


By taking advantage of these powerful tools, you can give your child a significant head start on their path to financial success. Start planning today for a brighter tomorrow!

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