One way for Nebraskans to put an income tax refund to good use is to invest it in a college savings account for a child or grandchild through the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST), Nebraska’s state-sponsored 529 college savings program, State Treasurer Don Stenberg said today.
Stenberg, who is Trustee of NEST, suggested that Nebraskans who already own NEST college savings accounts consider using their tax refunds to increase the value of those accounts. And for Nebraska taxpayers who haven’t yet established college savings accounts for children or grandchildren, he said now is a good time to get started.
“Investing your tax refund in a state-sponsored 529 college savings plan is an investment in the future for you and your family,” Stenberg said. “It will give you peace of mind to know that you are putting this so-called extra money to good use. You can easily put your refund to work quickly by investing in a NEST account.”
In addition to the tax-free growth that a NEST account enjoys, Nebraska taxpayers also receive significant state tax benefits – up to a $10,000 deduction for an individual or a couple filing jointly – for investing in a NEST account.
Information about the four plans in the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust can be found at the Treasurer’s website, http://www.treasurer.org/csp/. Information about how to open a NEST Direct account online and an enrollment form can be found at www.nest529direct.com. An enrollment kit can be requested by calling the customer service center toll-free at 1-888-993-3756 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Central Time.
Stenberg said the process to use a tax refund for a NEST account also is easy. If the refund check is made payable to the NEST account owner, the owner can endorse the check over to the NEST Direct Plan and include a contribution coupon or write the NEST account number on the check. If the refund is received electronically, the NEST account owner is asked to send a personal check or log on to his or her account and send an Electronic Funds Transfer directly from his or her bank account
The College Savings Plans Network, an affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers, points out that a recent survey by the financial firm Edward Jones indicates that only 8 percent of respondents said they planned to invest their tax refunds. With the average refund exceeding $3,000, the College Savings Plans Network said an investor could make a significant impact on his or her college savings by putting some, if not all, of the tax refund in a 529 college savings account.
Even for Nebraskans not expecting tax refunds, this is a good time to begin thinking about increasing their contributions to their existing 529 college savings accounts through the NEST Automatic Investment Plan (AIP), Stenberg said. AIP is a savings option that allows an account owner to systematically contribute to a NEST account directly from a personal checking or bank savings account. An AIP can be set up online or by mail.
Stenberg added that by using an Automatic Investment Plan (AIP), saving becomes part of the account owner’s routine, making it easy to meet savings goals on the owner’s schedule. If an account owner is already taking advantage of automatic investing, he or she might consider increasing the contribution, he said.
To set up an AIP online, go to the NEST website at www.nest529direct.com, log on to your account, and click on Asset Management link. Then click on Setup AIP and fill in the online form. An account owner may also request a printed paper form in the mail by calling the customer service number at 888-993-3746 (toll free).
NEST is a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan and provides four plans to help make saving for college simple and affordable: NEST Direct College Savings Plan, the NEST Advisor College Savings Plan, the TD Ameritrade 529 College Savings Plan, and the State Farm College Savings Plan. The Nebraska State Treasurer serves as Program Trustee. First National Bank of Omaha serves as Program Manager, and all investments are approved by the Nebraska Investment Council. Families nationwide are saving for college using Nebraska’s 529 College Savings Plans, which have more than 261,000 accounts, including 84,000 in Nebraska. Visit NEST529.com and treasurer.nebraska.gov for more information.