529 plan contribution deadlines to keep in mind

529 plan contribution deadlines to keep in mind
Key takeaways
May reduce state income taxes

Don’t miss out on state tax benefits. Make sure to contribute to a 529 plan by December 31.

Check state rules

Know your state’s rules for tax breaks for contributions. If you have multiple 529 plans from different states, check those too.

Give the gift of education

Open or contribute to a 529 plan to get a gift tax exclusion and as part of an estate planning strategy.

The end of the year is near. Along with holiday festivities are some important deadlines for contributions to a 529 college savings plan. There isn’t a yearly deadline for contributing to one, and you can make a contribution whenever you want. If your state does offer state tax benefits, then you may want to make contributions by December 31st to get it for that specific year.

Potentially reduce state income taxes

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia currently offer a state income tax deduction or tax credit for contributions to a 529 plan. (Contributions are not federally tax deductible.) In most states that offer tax benefits, anyone who contributes to the in-state 529 plan can get a state income tax deduction. They don’t need to be the plan account owner. Nine states give the tax benefit for contributions to any 529 plan, and it doesn’t need to be sponsored by the state. For example, if you live in Arizona but contribute to a New York-sponsored 529 plan where your grandchild lives, you can claim your contributions on your Arizona state tax return. In 10 states, however, only the plan account owner can claim a tax benefit. See your state tax benefits.

The contribution deadline to get the current year's state income tax breaks for most states that offer one is December 31. Six states have contribution deadlines the following April, the same as the state and IRS tax-filing deadlines. Check with your plan to confirm the state tax deadline.

Most states that offer tax benefits limit the 529 plan contribution amount that’s eligible for a state income tax break. Some states allow taxpayers to carry forward excess contributions or unused tax deductions or credits and claim them in future tax years. This is good for those who don’t contribute the full state tax-advantaged amount in the year.

Give the gift of an education

You don’t need to be a parent or other relative to save for and contribute to a child’s education. Anyone can open a 529 college savings plan for a child. Contributions are considered gifts for tax purposes and may qualify for the annual gift-tax exclusion. For 2023, individuals may gift up to $17,000 ($34,000 if married) per beneficiary without incurring gift taxes or affecting their lifetime gift tax exemption amount, which is $12.92 million in 2023. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends looking to reduce exposure to estate tax use 529 plan contributions as part of an estate planning strategy. By taking advantage of these tax benefits, anyone may help ensure their loved ones are financially prepared for college. To qualify for the 2023 gift-tax exclusion, the 529 plan contribution must be made by December 31.

A special provision allows a person to use accelerated gifting, making five years of contributions (the current year plus four future years) in a single year.1 So, a person can contribute $85,000 and a married couple $170,000 to a 529 plan in 2023. You can gift to as many people as you want in a year, so you can superfund a 529 college savings plan for as many children as you want. Again, this must be done by December 31 to get the credit for 2023.

Easy way to gift

If people are asking about gift ideas this holiday season, consider suggesting contributing to a 529 savings plan for a child. Friends, family members, employers, and anyone else who wants to can contribute to a CollegeBound 529 plan using Ugift®. For each beneficiary, 529 plan owners receive a unique Ugift® code. They can share this code with others who wish to contribute to the account at Ugift® has an easy solution for those who may be uncomfortable asking for a contribution. Polite requests can be made via Ugift’s email or with a Facebook or Twitter account.

Learn more about Ugift®.

Know your tax benefits

Don’t miss out on potential tax benefits. Keep the December 31 deadline in mind, and be sure to make contributions before then. If you have tax-related questions about a 529 plan, consult a tax or financial professional.

Learn more about how to contribute to a child’s education with and give the gift of education this holiday season. 


  • 1

    The gift-tax exclusion applies, provided the 529 account owner makes no other gifts to the beneficiary during a five-year period. Contributions between $17,000 and $85,000 ($34,000 and $170,000 for married couples filing jointly) made in one year may be prorated over a five-year period without subjecting the donor(s) to federal gift tax or reducing his/her federal unified estate and gift tax credit. If an individual contributes less than the $85,000 maximum ($170,000 for married couples filing jointly), additional contributions may be made without subjecting the donor to federal gift tax up to a prorated level of $17,000 ($34,000 for married couples filing jointly) per year. Gift taxation may result if a contribution exceeds the available annual gift tax exclusion amount remaining for a given beneficiary in the year of contribution. If the account owner dies before the end of the five-year period, a prorated portion of contributions between $17,000 and $85,000 ($34,000 and $170,000 for married couples filing jointly) made in one year may be included in his or her estate for estate tax purposes. Please consult your tax and/or legal advisor for further guidance.

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