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529 plans, other tax breaks help cover education expenses, even during a pandemic

Remote learning_girl at laptop with pencil paper_august-de-richelieu-4260478_pexels
The fall 2020 semester is starting remotely in most parts of the country. (Photo by August de Richelieu via Pexels)

School is back in session. Sort of.

In most places, both at the K-12 and college levels, students and their families are dealing with hybrid education modes.

Some classes are meeting in person, albeit dramatically altered to meet COVID-19 safe distancing policies. The rest of the time, the students are learning online.

It's not ideal, but it's something.

The price of learning: But one thing remains the same even when we're dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Classes, at all levels, are going to cost you.

In pre-college cases, many families have had to shell out for new electronic devices or add or upgrade their internet connections to make remote learning possible.

When young people headed off to university, the costs increase. Even where the schools are using hybrid methods of meeting, college kids — or their parents — must pay the many higher education expenses.

This week's Weekly Tax Tip looks at ways the tax code can help students and families cover a variety of educational costs at all learning levels.

And this week's Saturday Shout Out offers Tips on Spending the Money in College Savings Accounts, those popular educational cost payment options we know as 529 plans.

Ann Carrns, in her article for The New York Times, notes that 529 plan money grows tax free and can be withdrawn tax free if it's spent on eligible education expenses. She walks us through the tax fine print governing those tax-favored withdrawals.

Worthwhile tax homework: I know you probably didn't plan on spending your weekend doing homework, especially if you're like me and finished your formal schooling many years ago.

But these tax lessons could really pay off, not only in helping your son or daughter (or you if you're still going to school or going back), but in reducing your tax bills, too.

You also might find these items of interest:

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