Montana Code Annotated 2015

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     15-62-201. Program requirements -- application -- establishment of account -- qualified and nonqualified withdrawal -- penalties. (1) The program must be operated through use of accounts in the trust established by account owners. Payments to the trust for participation in the program must be made by account owners pursuant to participating trust agreements. A person who wishes to participate in the program and open an account into which funds will be deposited to pay the qualified higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary shall:
     (a) enter into a participating trust agreement pursuant to which an account will be established as a participating trust of the trust;
     (b) complete an application on the form prescribed by the board that includes:
     (i) the name, address, and social security number or employer identification number of the contributor;
     (ii) the name, address, and social security number of the account owner if the account owner is not the contributor;
     (iii) the name, address, and social security number of the designated beneficiary;
     (iv) the certification relating to no excess contributions adopted by the board pursuant to 20-25-902;
     (v) the designation of the financial institution with which the funds in the participating trust will be invested; and
     (vi) any other information required by the board;
     (c) pay the one-time application fee established by the board;
     (d) make the minimum contribution required by the board or by opening an account; and
     (e) designate the type of account to be opened if more than one type of account is offered.
     (2) A person shall make contributions to an opened account in cash.
     (3) An account owner may withdraw all or part of the balance from an account under rules prescribed by the board. The rules must be used to help the board or program manager to determine if a withdrawal is a nonqualified withdrawal or a qualified withdrawal to the extent that the board concludes that it is necessary for the board or program manager to make that determination. The rules may require that:
     (a) account owners seeking to make a qualified withdrawal or other withdrawal that is not a nonqualified withdrawal shall provide certifications, copies of bills for qualified higher education expenses, or other supporting material;
     (b) qualified withdrawals from an account be made only by a check payable jointly to the designated beneficiary and a higher education institution; and
     (c) withdrawals not meeting certain requirements be treated as nonqualified withdrawals by the program manager, and if these withdrawals are not nonqualified withdrawals, the account owner shall seek refunds of penalties directly from the board.
     (4) If the board determines that it is required to impose a penalty on nonqualified withdrawals for the program to qualify as a qualified state tuition program or a qualified tuition program under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 529, the board may impose a penalty in an amount equal to 10% of the portion of the proposed withdrawal that would constitute income as determined in accordance with section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 529. The penalty must be withheld and paid to the board for use in operating and marketing the program and for state student financial aid.
     (5) The board, by rule, shall increase the percentage of the penalty prescribed in subsection (4) or change the basis of this penalty if the board determines that the amount of the penalty must be increased to constitute a minimum penalty for purposes of qualifying the program as a qualified state tuition program or a qualified tuition program under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 529.
     (6) The board may decrease the percentage of the penalty prescribed in subsection (4) if:
     (a) the penalty is greater than is required to constitute a minimum penalty for purposes of qualifying the program as a qualified state tuition program or qualified tuition program under section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 529; or
     (b) the penalty, when combined with other revenue generated under this chapter, is producing more revenue than is required to cover the costs of operating and marketing the program and to recover any costs not previously recovered.
     (7) If an account owner makes a nonqualified withdrawal and a penalty imposed under subsection (4) is not withheld pursuant to subsection (4) or the amount withheld was less than the amount required to be withheld under that subsection for nonqualified withdrawals, the account owner shall pay:
     (a) the unpaid portion of the penalty to the board at the same time that the account owner files a federal and state income tax return for the taxable year of the withdrawal; or
     (b) if the account owner does not file a return, the unpaid portion of the penalty on the due date for federal and state income tax returns, including any authorized extensions.
     (8) Each account must be maintained separately from each other account under the program.
     (9) Separate records and accounting must be maintained for each account for each designated beneficiary.
     (10) A contributor to, account owner of, or designated beneficiary of an account may not direct the investment of any contributions to any account or the earnings generated by the account in violation of section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 529, and may not pledge the interest of an account or use an interest in an account as security for a loan.
     (11) If there is any distribution from an account to any person or for the benefit of any person during a calendar year, the distribution must be reported to the internal revenue service and the account owner or the designated beneficiary to the extent required by federal law.
     (12) The financial institution shall provide statements to each account owner whose participating trusts are invested with the institution at least once each year within 31 days after the 12-month period to which they relate. The statement must identify the contributions made during a preceding 12-month period, the total contributions made through the end of the period, the value of the account as of the end of this period, distributions made during this period, and any other matters that the board requires be reported to the account owner.
     (13) Statements and information returns relating to accounts must be prepared and filed to the extent required by federal or state tax law or by administrative rule.
     (14) A state or local government or organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), may, without designating a designated beneficiary, open and become the account owner of an account to fund scholarships for persons whose identity will be determined after an account is opened.

     History: En. Sec. 4, Ch. 540, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 468, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 566, L. 2003; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 549, L. 2005.

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