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JD Supra - Business Advisor
By Nora Gieg Chatha

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 into law. The ABLE Act amended Section 529 of the IRC to enable the creation of state-specific tax free savings accounts to cover “qualified” expenses for individuals with disabilities for tax years beginning after December 31, 2014. Such “ABLE” accounts are designed to “supplement and not supplant” public benefits like Medicaid (Medical Assistance) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

ABLE accounts are allowed a tax exemption similar to a Qualified Tuition Program or Section 529 Plan, and amounts in an ABLE account are to accumulate on a tax-exempt or in some cases tax-deferred basis. Like Section 529 Plans ABLE programs will be state-run with options presumably varying from state to state, and designated beneficiaries may be changed so long as a newly designated beneficiary is likewise eligible under the program and a family member of the initially designated eligible beneficiary.

ABLE accounts are a work in progress. The Treasury Department is to draft regulations in 2015 to provide better guidance on their qualifying criteria. Agencies administering means-tested public benefits (primarily the Social Security Administration and State Medicaid Agencies) may also publish guidelines.

At this juncture qualified expenses are understood to include education, housing and transportation. Common examples of qualified expenses provided are medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, specialized housing and disability-related transportation.

Non-tax deductible contributions may be made to an ABLE account by any person (the disable account beneficiary, family or friends), and income earned is understood to be tax-exempt or in some instances tax-deferred.

At this juncture ABLE account limitations are understood to require that:

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Related Article - Obama Signs ABLE Act - Disability Scoop - December 22, 2014

It keeps e-books, online video, and more inaccessible to people with disabilities.


Published in Slate

Recently, the White House made about 114,000 new friends by agreeing that it should be legal to unlock your cellphone. In a response to a We the People petition, a White House adviser wrote that the Obama administration would work to address a recent decision by the librarian of Congress that made unlocking your cellphone illegal under the anti-circumvention measures of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The unlocking furor is just the latest example of popular opposition to the DMCA’s dreaded anti-circumvention measures. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently issued a report arguing that over the last 15 years, the DMCA has impeded scientific research, innovation, fair use, and more. But among the DMCA’s many flaws is a significant one of which most people aren’t aware: For more than a decade, the act has imposed a barrier to access for people with disabilities. It hinders access to books, movies, and television shows by making the development, distribution, and use of cutting-edge accessibility technology illegal.


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This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture.