There are plenty of great deals on computers these days but nothing beats free. How would you like to buy your kids a new computer, compliments of Uncle Sam? Well you can, sort of. You just have to act soon.
There are two tax incentives that allow you to buy a computer with money from tax-favored 529 accounts and Cloverdell education savings accounts or ESAs. But both are going to expire December 31.
529 Plans are set up for college students and ESAs are for students from kindergarten through grad school.
Writing for Forbes magazine, Ashlea Eberling says that what 529s and ESAs have in common is that the money you put in them grows tax-free, and withdrawals aren't taxed if used for educational expenses. Therefore, you can take money out of these tax-favored accounts to buy any computer, or educational software with the exception of games.
For 529s, the computer provision came in as part of President Obama's early stimulus and is good for 2009 and 2010 only. For ESAs, the computer provision came in as part of the 2001 Bush tax cuts package, set to expire December. 31.
The caveat is that you have to have enough money in these accounts to have grown in value the amount you're going to pay for a computer. Even if it doesn't cover the entire cost, it's kind of like buying a computer on sale which is better than nothing.
How often does the government give you a gift like that?