The bill authorizes the collegeinvest authority (authority) to establish an achieving a better life experience (ABLE) savings program that conforms to the federal "Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014", as that act creates section 529A of the "Internal Revenue Code of 1986" (section 529A). Individuals who were declared disabled, as defined under federal law, before reaching 26 years of age are eligible to open an ABLE savings account. Account earnings grow on a tax-free basis. Account distributions for qualified disability expenses are exempt from state income taxation.
ABLE savings accounts under section 529A are modeled after section 529 college savings accounts, but, unlike those accounts, ABLE savings accounts may be used to save for many expenses related to an individual's disability, without disqualifying the individual for certain federal benefits. Qualifying expenses may include, if permitted under federal law, expenses related to education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses, and other approved expenses.
The bill requires the authority to establish the ABLE savings program pursuant to the requirements of section 529A, to adopt guidelines and procedures for implementing the program, and to revise those guidelines and procedures, as necessary, to ensure that the program is a qualified ABLE savings program under federal law. The program is operated through the use of individual accounts and managed by a contract with a financial institution or institutions selected by the authority. The authority is permitted to invest amounts on deposit in the ABLE savings program with section 529 college savings accounts. The authority may also contract with a state that does not have a qualified ABLE savings program to manage accounts for that state's residents, and also contract with another state that has a qualified ABLE program to accept accounts from Colorado residents.
The bill specifies specific powers and duties related to the implementation of the ABLE savings program in addition to the authority's existing powers and duties. The bill includes provisions relating to contributions, withdrawals, and management of the accounts, as permitted under section 529A, and the deposit and withdrawal of fees established for the savings program through the collegeinvest fund.
The bill amends provisions of part 3 of article 3.1 of title 23, Colorado Revised Statutes, relating to limitations on personal liability, claims of creditors, confidentiality of records, policies for promoting programs, residency, and tax exemptions to ensure that those provisions include the ABLE savings program and conform with federal law.