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IRS.gov Website
Publication 970
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178414

Contributions(p43)

rule
Any individual (including the designated beneficiary) can contribute to a Coverdell ESA if the individual's MAGI (defined later under Contribution Limits) for the year is less than $110,000. For individuals filing joint returns, that amount is $220,000.
Organizations, such as corporations and trusts, can also contribute to Coverdell ESAs. There is no requirement that an organization's income be below a certain level.
Contributions must meet all of the following requirements.
  1. They must be in cash.
  2. They cannot be made after the beneficiary reaches age 18, unless the beneficiary is a special needs beneficiary.
  3. They must be made by the due date of the contributor's tax return (not including extensions).
Contributions can be made to one or several Coverdell ESAs for the same designated beneficiary provided that the total contributions are not more than the contribution limits (defined later) for a year.
Contributions can be made, without penalty, to both a Coverdell ESA and a QTP in the same year for the same beneficiary.
Table 7-2 summarizes many of the features of contributing to a Coverdell ESA.
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When contributions considered made.(p43)

rule
Contributions made to a Coverdell ESA for the preceding tax year are considered to have been made on the last day of the preceding year. They must be made by the due date (not including extensions) for filing your return for the preceding year.
For example, if you make a contribution to a Coverdell ESA in February 2013, and you designate it as a contribution for 2012, you are considered to have made that contribution on December 31, 2012.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178417

Contribution Limits(p43)

rule
There are two yearly limits:
  1. One on the total amount that can be contributed for each designated beneficiary in any year, and
  2. One on the amount that any individual can contribute for any one designated beneficiary for a year.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178418

Limit for each designated beneficiary.(p43)

rule
For 2012, the total of all contributions to all Coverdell ESAs set up for the benefit of any one designated beneficiary cannot be more than $2,000. This includes contributions (other than rollovers) to all the beneficiary's Coverdell ESAs from all sources. Rollovers are discussed under Rollovers and Other Transfers, later.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178421

Example.(p43)

When Maria Luna was born in 2011, three separate Coverdell ESAs were set up for her, one by her parents, one by her grandfather, and one by her aunt. In 2012, the total of all contributions to Maria's three Coverdell ESAs cannot be more than $2,000. For example, if her grandfather contributed $2,000 to one of her Coverdell ESAs, no one else could contribute to any of her three accounts. Or, if her parents contributed $1,000 and her aunt $600, her grandfather or someone else could contribute no more than $400. These contributions could be put into any of Maria's Coverdell ESA accounts.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178422

Limit for each contributor.(p43)

rule
Generally, you can contribute up to $2,000 for each designated beneficiary for 2012. This is the most you can contribute for the benefit of any one beneficiary for the year, regardless of the number of Coverdell ESAs set up for the beneficiary.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178423

Example.(p43)

The facts are the same as in the previous example except that Maria Luna's older brother, Edgar, also has a Coverdell ESA. If their grandfather contributed $2,000 to Maria's Coverdell ESA in 2012, he could also contribute $2,000 to Edgar's Coverdell ESA.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178424
Reduced limit.(p43)
Your contribution limit may be reduced. If your MAGI (defined on this page) is between $95,000 and $110,000 (between $190,000 and $220,000 if filing a joint return), the $2,000 limit for each designated beneficiary is gradually reduced (see Figuring the limit, later). If your MAGI is $110,000 or more ($220,000 or more if filing a joint return), you cannot contribute to anyone's Coverdell ESA.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000254186

Table 7-2. Coverdell ESA Contributions
at a Glance

Do not rely on this table alone. It provides only general highlights. See the text for more complete explanations.

QuestionAnswer
Are contributions deductible?No.
What is the annual contribution limit per designated beneficiary?$2,000 for each designated beneficiary.
What if more than one Coverdell ESA has been opened for the same designated beneficiary?The annual contribution limit is $2,000 for each beneficiary, no matter how many Coverdell ESAs are set up for that beneficiary.
What if more than one individual makes contributions for the same designated beneficiary?The annual contribution limit is $2,000 per beneficiary, no matter how many individuals contribute.
Can contributions other than cash be made to a Coverdell ESA?No.
When must contributions stop?No contributions can be made to a beneficiary's Coverdell ESA after he or she reaches age 18, unless the beneficiary is a special needs beneficiary.
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Modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).(p44)

rule
For most taxpayers, MAGI is adjusted gross income (AGI) as figured on their federal income tax return.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178427
MAGI when using Form 1040A.(p44)
If you file Form 1040A, your MAGI is the AGI on line 22 of that form.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178428
MAGI when using Form 1040.(p44)
If you file Form 1040, your MAGI is the AGI on line 38 of that form, modified by adding back any:
  1. Foreign earned income exclusion,
  2. Foreign housing exclusion,
  3. Foreign housing deduction,
  4. Exclusion of income by bona fide residents of American Samoa, and
  5. Exclusion of income by bona fide residents of Puerto Rico.
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MAGI when using Form 1040NR.(p44)
If you file Form 1040NR, your MAGI is the AGI on line 36 of that form.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178430
MAGI when using Form 1040NR-EZ.(p44)
If you file Form 1040NR-EZ, your MAGI is the AGI on line 10 of that form.
If you have any of these adjustments, you can use Worksheet 7-1. MAGI for a Coverdell ESA, later, to figure your MAGI for Form 1040.
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Worksheet 7-1. MAGI for a Coverdell ESA

1.Enter your adjusted gross income
(Form 1040, line 38)
 1.
2.Enter your foreign earned income exclusion and/or housing exclusion (Form 2555, line 45, or Form 2555-EZ, line 18) 2.  
3.Enter your foreign housing deduction (Form 2555, line 50) 3.   
4.Enter the amount of income from Puerto Rico you are excluding 4.  
5.Enter the amount of income from American Samoa you are excluding (Form 4563, line 15) 5.  
6.Add lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 6.
7.Add lines 1 and 6. This is your
modified adjusted gross income
 7.


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Figuring the limit.(p44)

rule
To figure the limit on the amount you can contribute for each designated beneficiary, multiply $2,000 by a fraction. The numerator (top number) is your MAGI minus $95,000 ($190,000 if filing a joint return). The denominator (bottom number) is $15,000 ($30,000 if filing a joint return). Subtract the result from $2,000. This is the amount you can contribute for each beneficiary. You can use Worksheet 7-2. Coverdell ESA Contribution Limit to figure the limit on contributions.
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Worksheet 7-2.  Coverdell ESA
Contribution Limit

1.Maximum contribution 1.$ 2,000
2.Enter your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for purposes of figuring the contribution limit to a Coverdell ESA (see definition or Worksheet 7-1, earlier)  2.
3.Enter $190,000 if married filing jointly; $95,000 for all other filers 3.
4.Subtract line 3 from line 2. If zero or less, enter -0- on line 4, skip lines 5 through 7, and enter $2,000 on line 8 4.
5.Enter $30,000 if married filing jointly; $15,000 for all other filers 5.
  Note. If the amount on line 4 is greater than or equal to the amount on line 5, stop here. You are not allowed to contribute to a Coverdell ESA for 2012.    
6.Divide line 4 by line 5 and enter the result as a decimal (rounded to at least 3 places) 6.  .
7.Multiply line 1 by line 6 7.
8.Subtract line 7 from line 1 8.
Note: The total Coverdell ESA contributions from all sources for the designated beneficiary during the tax year may not exceed $2,000.
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Example.(p44)

Paul, who is single, had a MAGI of $96,500 for 2012. Paul can contribute up to $1,800 in 2012 for each beneficiary, as shown in the illustrated Worksheet 7-2, Coverdell ESA Contribution Limit–Illustrated.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178437

Worksheet 7-2.  Coverdell ESA Contribution Limit—Illustrated

1.Maximum contribution 1.$ 2,000
2.Enter your modified adjusted gross
income (MAGI) for purposes of figuring the contribution limit to a Coverdell ESA (see definition or Worksheet 7-1, earlier)
 2.96,500
3.Enter $190,000 if married filing jointly; $95,000 for all other filers 3.95,000
4.Subtract line 3 from line 2. If zero or less, enter -0- on line 4, skip lines 5 through 7, and enter $2,000 on line 8 4.1,500
5.Enter $30,000 if married filing jointly; $15,000 for all other filers 5.15,000
  Note. If the amount on line 4 is greater than or equal to the amount on line 5,
stop here. You are not allowed to
contribute to a Coverdell ESA for 2012
.
   
6.Divide line 4 by line 5 and enter the result as a decimal (rounded to at least 3 places) 6.  .100
7.Multiply line 1 by line 6 7.200
8.Subtract line 7 from line 1 8.1,800
Note: The total Coverdell ESA contributions from all sources for the designated beneficiary during the tax year may not exceed $2,000.
taxmap/pubs/p970-029.htm#en_us_publink1000178439

Additional Tax on
Excess Contributions(p45)

rule
The beneficiary must pay a 6% excise tax each year on excess contributions that are in a Coverdell ESA at the end of the year. Excess contributions are the total of the following two amounts.
  1. Contributions to any designated beneficiary's Coverdell ESA for the year that are more than $2,000 (or, if less, the total of each contributor's limit for the year, as discussed earlier).
  2. Excess contributions for the preceding year, reduced by the total of the following two amounts:
    1. Distributions (other than those rolled over as discussed later) during the year, and
    2. The contribution limit for the current year minus the amount contributed for the current year.
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Exceptions.(p45)

rule
The excise tax does not apply if excess contributions made during 2012 (and any earnings on them) are distributed before the first day of the sixth month of the following tax year (June 1, 2013, for a calendar year taxpayer).
However, you must include the distributed earnings in gross income for the year in which the excess contribution was made. You should receive Form 1099-Q, Payments From Qualified Education Programs, from each institution from which excess contributions were distributed. Box 2 of that form will show the amount of earnings on your excess contributions. Code "2" or "3" entered in the blank box below boxes 5 and 6 indicate the year in which the earnings are taxable. See Instructions for Recipient on the back of copy B of your Form 1099-Q. Enter the amount of earnings on line 21 of Form 1040 (or Form 1040NR) for the applicable tax year. For more information, see Taxable Distributions, later.
The excise tax does not apply to any rollover contribution.
Note.Contributions made in one year for the preceding tax year are considered to have been made on the last day of the preceding year.
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Example.(p45)

In 2011, Greta's parents and grandparents contributed a total of $2,300 to Greta's Coverdell ESA— an excess contribution of $300. Because Greta did not withdraw the excess before June 1, 2012, she had to pay an additional tax of $18 (6% × $300) when she filed her 2011 tax return.
In 2012, excess contributions of $500 were made to Greta's account, however, she withdrew $250 from that account to use for qualified education expenses. Using the steps shown earlier under Additional Tax on Excess Contributions, Greta figures the excess contribution in her account at the end of 2012 as follows.
(1) $500 excess contributions made in 2012  
+  (2) $300 excess contributions in ESA at end of 2011  
− (2a) $250 distribution during 2012  
  $550 excess at end of 2012 × 6% = $33
     
If Greta limits 2013 contributions to $1,450 ($2,000 maximum allowed − $550 excess contributions from 2012), she will not owe any additional tax in 2013 for excess contributions.
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Figuring and reporting the additional tax.(p45)

rule
You figure this excise tax in Part V of Form 5329. Report the additional tax on Form 1040, line 58 (or Form 1040NR, line 56).