How to Transfer Your 529 Plan to Another State
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By Mark Kantrowitz

September 11, 2020

You can transfer a 529 plan from one state to another through a direct rollover from the old 529 plan to the new 529 plan. You can also transfer the 529 plan through a distribution-contribution combination. But, there are a few pitfalls you will need to avoid.

Do You Really Need to Transfer Your 529 Plan?

Even if you’ve moved to a new state, you might not need to transfer your 529 plan to that state.

You can keep the money in the old state’s 529 plan. A 529 plan can be used to pay for college in any state.

If you want to take advantage of a state income tax deduction or tax credit on contributions to the new state’s 529 plan, you can open a new 529 plan in the new state and direct new contributions to the new state’s 529 plan.

Some states provide a state income tax break on contributions to any state’s 529 plan. These states include Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana and Pennsylvania.

Check for Penalties and Pitfalls before You Transfer 529 Plans

There are no federal income tax consequences to a rollover, but some states treat outbound rollovers as non-qualified distributions.

If so, you may have to pay state income tax on the earnings portion of the rollover. There may also be recapture of any state income tax breaks attributable to the distribution.

The states that penalize outbound rollovers include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington DC and Wisconsin.

You are limited to one rollover per beneficiary per 12-month period.

If you transfer the money by taking a distribution from the old 529 plan, you must contribute it to the new 529 plan within 60 days.

Look for State Income Tax Breaks on Inbound Rollover Contributions

Some states provide a state income tax deduction or tax credit on inbound rollover contributions.

These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of these states, Illinois, New Mexico, Vermont and Wisconsin provide the state income tax break on the principal portion of the rollover only.

Two Methods of Moving a 529 Plan

There are two methods of transferring a 529 plan to a new state.

One method of transferring 529 plans involves a direct rollover from the old 529 plan to the new 529 plan.

  • Open a 529 plan account in the new state if you don’t already have one.
  • Download a rollover form from the web site of the new state’s 529 plan.
  • Enter the account numbers for the old 529 plan and the new 529 plan.
  • You may need to get a Medallion Signature Guarantee on the form, depending on the 529 plans.
  • Attach a copy of the latest statement from the old 529 plan.
  • Mail the form and attachments to the new 529 plan.

The other method of transferring 529 plans involves taking a distribution from the old 529 plan and contributing the money to the new 529 plan.

  • The contribution must occur within 60 days of the distribution.
  • The new 529 plan will want to know how much of the distribution from the old 529 plan was principal and how much was earnings.
  • In most cases, you will need to provide the new 529 plan with a copy of the most recent statement from the old 529 plan.
  • If you aren’t careful, the transfer will be treated as a nonqualified distribution from the old 529 plan and as a new contribution to the new 529 plan, leading to income taxes, tax penalties and gift taxes.

A good place to start:

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