When you invest with the Bright Directions College Savings Program, you have the potential to benefit from multiple tax advantages that could help you accumulate more dollars for college. For additional information, visit our tax center and consult with your tax professional.

Illinois Income Tax Deduction
Each year, Illinois taxpayers can deduct contributions made to Illinois 529 plans up to:1

  • $10,000 per individual taxpayer
  • $20,000 for a married couple filing jointly

The Illinois tax deadline is December 31.

Tax-Deferred Growth
Contributions and any earnings grow in the plan with no federal or state income taxes deducted each year, providing the potential for additional investment growth.

Tax-Free Withdrawals
Withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses are free from federal tax.2 Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; certain room and board expenses incurred by students who are enrolled at least half-time; the purchase of computer or peripheral equipment, computer software, or Internet access and related services, if used primarily by the beneficiary during any of the years the beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution; and certain expenses for special needs services needed by a special needs beneficiary. Withdrawals for nonqualified expenses may be subject to state and federal taxes as well as an additional 10 percent federal tax penalty.

Gift and Estate Tax Treatment
Contributions to an account are considered a gift from the contributor to the designated beneficiary and are generally excludable from the account owner’s taxable estate. Amounts in an account at the death of the beneficiary are includable in the designated beneficiary’s estate.

An account owner’s contributions to an account are eligible for the annual gift tax exclusion, which is currently $14,000. 529 plans also allow for a special gift tax exclusion election. In general, this rule allows you to contribute up to $70,000 for each beneficiary in a single year without federal gift tax consequences—provided that you make no other gifts to the beneficiary in the same year or in any of the succeeding four calendar years. This election needs to be made on a federal gift tax return. Under this rule, your contributions are subject to being added back into your taxable estate in the event of your death within the five-year period. You should consult your tax advisor regarding your situation.

1An individual who files an individual Illinois state income tax return will be able to deduct up to $10,000 per tax year (up to $20,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint Illinois state income tax return) for their total, combined contributions to the Bright Directions College Savings Program, the Bright Start College Savings Program, and CollegeIllinois! during that tax year. The $10,000 (individual) and $20,000 (joint) limit on deductions will apply to total contributions made without regard to whether the contributions are made to a single account or more than one account. The amount of any deduction previously taken for Illinois income tax purposes is added back to Illinois taxable income in the event an Account Owner takes a Nonqualified Withdrawal from an Account or if such assets are rolled over to a non-Illinois 529 plan. If Illinois tax rates have increased since the original contribution, the additional tax liability may exceed the tax savings from the deduction.

2Withdrawals used to pay for Qualified Higher Education Costs are free from federal and Illinois state income tax. Qualified higher education expenses include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance; certain room and board expenses incurred by students who are enrolled at least half-time; the purchase of computer or peripheral equipment, computer software, or Internet access and related services, if used primarily by the beneficiary during any of the years the beneficiary is enrolled at an eligible educational institution; and certain expenses for special needs services needed by a special needs beneficiary.