BCSP and PCC Seek to Add Professional Certification to Internal Revenue Code of 1986

Bill S.379 Would Add Professional Certification to 529 Plans

September 25, 2019

On September 4, BCSP’s Tiera Robinson, Senior Specialist, Strategic Advancement, held meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to lobby in favor of expanding proposed Bill S.379 to include professional certifications.

As currently written, S.379 is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and would allow beneficiaries to use funds in 529 plans for expenses associated with post-secondary credentials including professional certificates or certifications.

The Internal Revenue Code of 1986  specifically 529 plans — is a program that allows people to establish tax-free savings accounts for certain educational expenses either through an education savings plan or a prepaid tuition plan. As currently constructed, these tax-free earning accounts can only be used for college or other post-secondary public, private, or religious schools. Bill S.379 would open this plan to include post-secondary credentials or licenses and treat them as qualified higher education expenses.

Additionally, the Professional Certification Coalition (PCC) is urging senate members to expand upon the introduced version of S.379 to include not only the cost of achieving a certification or license, but also the expenses necessary to obtain or maintain certifications or licenses. The PCC is asking that senate members include incurred costs such as examination fees, recertification examination fees, and/or continuing education costs – all of which would not be covered under S.379 as currently introduced.

The PCC is also suggesting that the term “program” be revised as currently defined in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include accredited institutions and online training programs or courses offered nationally, thus ensuring 529 beneficiaries have greater professional options.

S.379, and its proposed additions would ease the financial burden on individuals seeking to apply for, or maintain, certification in a wider array of occupations and professions. Additionally, amending these plans would have continued relevance and value to individuals who seek opportunities for career growth or career changes.

More information regarding 529 plans can be found on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s website, and more information about the PCC can be found at profcertcoalition.org.

The PCC was founded in July 2018 to address efforts of enacting state legislation that would undermine the recognition of certifications offered by non-governmental, private organizations. Organizations like the PCC, BCSP, ASSP, and many more, act on behalf of citizens to protect their right to hold privatized certification.