Individual Development Accounts – Connecticut

Date: 21 Nov 2008 | posted in: equity, From the Desk of David Morris, The Public Good | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Connecticut’s legislature authorized an IDA program in June 2000, through Public Act 00-192.  The state Department of Labor manages a reserve fund of both state funds and private sector contributions, and certifies publicly and privately financed programs. Corporations that contribute to the state fund receive tax credits from the state. Donations to IDAs operated by non-profits are tax deductible. Community organizations administer the programs. Financial institutions provide accounts with no minimum balance or monthly fees, at least a market rate of interest, and assistance with the financial education aspects of the programs.

Like many other programs, Connecticut’s permissible savings goals include a down payment on a home, education or job training, small business investments. The state also includes the purchase of an automobile for maintaining or obtaining employment, and a deposit on a rental unit.

More information is available from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

The regulations for Connecticut’s program are found below, or can be found here on the Connecticut Department of Labor’s site.

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Connecticut Statutes Chapter 557 – Employment Regulation

Sec. 31-51ww. Individual development account programs: Definitions. As used in this section and sections 31-51xx to 31-51eee, inclusive:
(1) “Account holder” means a participant in a certified state IDA program;
(2) “Department” means the Labor Department;
(3) “Approved plan” means a plan prepared jointly by the account holder and the community-based organization that defines savings goals, program requirements and permissible uses of the individual development account and its matching funds pursuant to sections 31-51xx to 31-51aaa, inclusive, and regulations adopted pursuant to section 31-51ddd. The approved plan shall be a contract between the account holder and the community-based organization;
(4) “Area median income” means area median household income as determined from time to time by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development;
(5) “Certified state IDA program” means a program of matched savings accounts that has been certified by the department in accordance with regulations adopted pursuant to section 31-51ddd;
(6) “Clearinghouse” means a service to provide organizations interested in establishing, or which have established, individual development account programs with literature on federal, state and other sources of funding, guidelines for best practices and program standards, and information regarding the establishment and maintenance of certified state IDA programs;
(7) “Community-based organization” means an organization exempt from taxation pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or any subsequent corresponding internal revenue code of the United States, as from time to time amended, which meets the requirements set forth in regulations pursuant to section 31-51ddd;
(8) “Education” means (A) a postsecondary program of instruction provided by a college, university, community college, area vocational-technical school, professional institution or specialized college or school legally authorized to grant degrees, or (B) any related educational program approved by the community-based organization and the department;
(9) “Entrepreneurial activity” means the purchase of or investment in a small business, as defined in subsection (a) of section 4-168a, in Connecticut in which, upon such purchase or investment, the account holder will be a principal;
(10) “Federal poverty level” means the most recent poverty income guidelines published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services;
(11) “Financial institution” means a “financial institution”, as defined in section 36a-330;
(12) “Household” means a household, as defined in the federal Assets for Independence Act, P.L. 105-235;
(13) “Individual development account” means a savings account, maintained in a program that is established pursuant to section 31-51xx that is held in a financial institution, for the sole purpose of holding the funds of the account holder for one of the purposes described in subsection (a) of section 31-51xx;
(14) “Individual Development Account Reserve Fund” means a nonlapsing fund administered by the department for the purposes of providing matching funds for individual development accounts in certified state IDA programs, and for funding costs incurred by community-based organizations in the operation and administration of such programs and department’s administrative costs for the Connecticut IDA Initiative;
(15) “Connecticut IDA Initiative” means the state-wide individual development account initiative established in section 31-51xx;
(16) “Job training” means a program for job entrance or skill development approved by the community-based organization and the department; and
(17) “Qualified disabled individual” means a disabled individual eligible for assistance to the disabled pursuant to chapter 319mm.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 1, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective January 1, 2001.

Sec. 31-51xx. Connecticut IDA Initiative established. Implementation.(a) There is hereby established the “Connecticut IDA Initiative”. The initiative shall be administered by the department. The initiative shall provide eligible individuals as provided in section 31-51yy with an opportunity, through a certified state IDA program, to establish an individual development account from which funds may be used by the account holder for one of the following purposes as specified in the approved plan: (1) The costs of education or job training; (2) the purchase of a home as a primary residence; (3) the participation in or development of a new or existing entrepreneurial activity; (4) the purchase of an automobile for the purpose of obtaining or maintaining employment; or (5) the making of a lease deposit on a primary residence.
(b) To implement the Connecticut IDA Initiative, the department shall, in accordance with regulations adopted pursuant to section 31-51ddd: (1) Establish an Individual Development Account Reserve Fund in accordance with section 31-51aaa; (2) establish and operate, directly or by contract with another entity, the clearinghouse; (3) solicit, review, accept or reject proposals from community-based organizations seeking to operate certified state IDA programs on a not-for-profit basis; and (4) perform such monitoring, evaluation and oversight functions as are appropriate for the administration of the Connecticut IDA Initiative.
(c) The department shall determine the maximum per cent of all funds received from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund that may be used by a community-based organization operating a certified state IDA program in providing training, counseling, case management and for administrative purposes.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 2, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective January 1, 2001

Sec. 31-51yy. Eligibility. Duties of community-based organizations and financial institutions. (a) An individual who has earned income, and who is a member of a household whose adjusted gross income is not in excess of eighty per cent of the area median household income for the area where such individual resides, is eligible to participate in a certified state IDA program for the purpose of accumulating and withdrawing moneys for purposes specified in subsection (a) of section 31-51xx; except that, if an individual does not have earned income solely due to a qualified disability, the earned income requirement shall not apply to such individual.
(b) Each community-based organization operating a certified state IDA program shall establish, through written governing instruments with a qualified financial institution: (1) A trust or custodial account on behalf of each account holder in its program into which the account holder shall deposit savings, which accounts shall conform to the requirements of the federal Assets for Independence Act, P.A. 105-285; and (2) a separate local reserve fund into which the department shall deposit funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund and into which the community-based organization shall deposit funds received from the certified state IDA program from any other source. The community-based organization shall certify to the department, on forms prescribed by the department and accompanied by any documentation required by the department, that such accounts have been established pursuant to the provisions of sections 31-51ww to 31-51eee, inclusive, and that deposits have been made to an account by or on behalf of the account holder.
(c) A financial institution establishing a trust or custodial account on behalf of an account holder shall: (1) Permit deposits to be made in the account by the account holder; and (2) pay a market rate of interest on the account.
(d) The community-based organization shall determine and monitor the earned income levels of all account holders in its certified state IDA program and shall use its best efforts to ensure that at least thirty per cent of such account holders have earned income at or below two hundred per cent of the federal poverty level.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 3, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective January 1, 2001.

Sec. 31-51zz. Individual Development Account Reserve Fund: Funds deposited in. All amounts appropriated by the state for the Connecticut IDA Initiative shall be deposited in the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund, which shall be administered by the department. In addition to all amounts appropriated by the state, the department shall deposit in the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund grants, donations, contributions and any other sources of revenue received for this purpose.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 4, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective May 26, 2000.

Sec. 31-51aaa. Individual Development Account Reserve Fund: Use and administration.(a) Funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund shall be used to provide grants to community-based organizations that are operating certified state IDA programs for the purpose of providing matching funds for the individual development accounts in their programs, to assist the organizations to provide training, counseling and case management for program participants and for program administration purposes. Funds may also be used to pay for the evaluation required pursuant to section 31-51ccc, the operation of the clearinghouse, and the department’s administrative expenses for the Connecticut IDA Initiative. The department shall determine what proportion of the funds in the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund shall be used for each of these purposes.
(b) The Individual Development Account Reserve Fund shall be administered as follows:
(1) No new grant shall be approved by the department unless there is sufficient funding in the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund, as determined by the department, to meet all existing funding obligations including the maximum amount of state matching funds that would be required if each account holder in these certified programs met the savings goal in such account holder’s approved plan.
(2) Any funds remaining in the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund at the end of each fiscal year, and the interest thereon, shall be retained in said fund and used in the next succeeding fiscal year for expenditures set forth in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) Grants received by the community-based organization from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund for matching funds shall be held in the organization’s local reserve fund. This fund shall be an account separate from account holders’ individual development accounts , and its funds shall be disbursed in accordance with subsections (e)and (f) of this section pursuant to regulations adopted pursuant to section 31- 51ddd. Grants from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund for matching funds to certified state IDA programs shall be made on behalf of each individual account holder in the maximum amount of two dollars for every one dollar deposited in the individual development account by the account holder, not to exceed one thousand dollars of such matching funds per account holder for any calendar year and three thousand dollars per account holder for the duration of the account holder’s participation in the program.
(d) The department and the community-based organizations, separately or cooperatively, may solicit grants and private contributions for the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund and for the local reserve funds of community-based organizations operating certified state IDA programs.
(e) If moneys are withdrawn from an individual development account by an account holder due to the account holder’s decision to leave the certified state IDA program, all matching funds designated for said moneys shall be forfeited by the account holder and not later than December thirty-first of each year, the matching funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund shall be returned by the community-based organization to the department for redeposit into the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund; except that, if the withdrawal is an emergency withdrawal, as defined in regulations adopted pursuant to section 31-51ddd, or is a withdrawal due to circumstances other than an account holder’s decision to leave the certified state IDA program, the community-based organization may retain the matching funds for the account holder in its local reserve fund until such account holder redeposits the withdrawn funds or leaves the certified state IDA program, in accordance with such regulations.
(f) When the account holder has made sufficient deposits to such account holder’s individual development account to achieve the savings goal set forth in such account holder’s approved plan, the community-based organization shall pay such sum together with the matching funds from the organization’s local reserve account that are attributed to this individual development account, directly to the person or entity providing the goods or services. Where matching funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund have not been paid out by the community-based organization for an eligible purpose within five years after the opening of an individual development account due to an account holder not making contributions as provided in the approved plan, the matching funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund shall be returned to the department for deposit in the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund, except that the community-based organization may grant a leave of absence or extension of time to an account holder for a period not to exceed two years, within such five-year period in accordance with regulations adopted pursuant to section 31-51ddd.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 5, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective January 1, 2001.

Sec. 31-51bbb. Account funds excluded in determination of eligibility for or benefit level of certain programs. Notwithstand ing any other provision of the general statutes, funds deposited into, held in, credited to, or withdrawn from an individual development account for a purpose consistent with the approved plan, including accrued interest, shall be excluded in the determination of eligibility for, or the benefit level of, any needs-based program using state or joint federal and state funding, consistent with applicable state and federal law.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 7, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective January 1, 2001.

Sec. 31-51ccc. Program evaluation. Report. The department shall evaluate the Connecticut IDA Initiative for each fiscal year ending June thirtieth. Based on such evaluation, the department shall provide a comprehensive report on the initiative to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate no later than February first of the year following the end of each fiscal year, beginning for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 8, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective January 1, 2001.

Sec. 31-51ddd. Regulations.(a) The Labor Commissioner, in consultation with the State Treasurer shall, in accordance with chapter 54, adopt regulations to implement the provisions of sections 31-51ww to 31-51eee, inclusive, and to administer the Connecticut IDA Initiative. Such regulations shall establish standards and guidelines, consistent with the provisions of sections 31-51ww to 31-51eee, inclusive, for certified state IDA programs, including, but not limited to: (1) Income eligibility requirements for account holders; (2) permissible savings goals for certified state IDA programs; (3) the services that each certified state IDA program shall provide to assist its account holders in meeting their savings goals including credit history assessments, assistance in credit repair and ongoing credit stability, general financial education and asset-specific training, ongoing case management and other support services; (4) procedures and timelines for establishment of savings accounts within financial institutions and for the deposit of funds into individual savings accounts, the department’s Individual Development Account Reserve Fund, and local reserve funds maintained by certified community- based organizations; (5) allowable uses of matching funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund and procedures for the making of grants from such fund; (6)procedures and permissible reasons for emergency withdrawals of funds from individual accounts and leaves of absence from the program; (7)accounting and financial reporting procedures required of all certified community-based organizations; (8) required content of and deadlines for all program and evaluation reports by community-based organizations to the department; (9) required components of the approved plan between the account holder and the community-based organization, including but not limited to, savings goals, matching rates, required participation in education and training, contingency plans if the account holder fails to meet projected savings goals or schedules, savings withdrawal procedures and limitations, procedures for withdrawing from the program, provision for the disposition of funds in the event of the account holder’s death, and provision for amendment of the plan with the concurrence of the account holder and the community-based organization; (10) the process of approval, certification, suspension and decertification of an individual development account program; and(11) the application and implementation of any restrictions on or requirements of funding expenditures as required under state or federal law.
(b) Such regulations shall specify the process by which the department shall solicit proposals from community-based organizations to operate certified state IDA programs, and the criteria and process that shall be used by the department in granting state certification and determining the number of individual development accounts eligible for matching funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund. Criteria that shall be used in granting state certification andin allocating funds from the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund to certified state IDA programs shall include, but not be limited to, the community-based organization’s level of competence in meeting all financial and programmatic requirements of a certified state IDA program and the fiscal capacity of the organization to meet all financial obligations of the program and, to the extent possible, the geographic location of the organization.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 9, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective May 26, 2000 (Revisor’s note: In Subsec.(a), “with” was inserted editorially by the Revisors before “chapter 54”, for proper form).

Sec. 31-51eee. Receipt of funds authorized. Nothing in sections 31-51ww to 31- 51ddd, inclusive, shall preclude a community-based organization or other entity from establishing an individual development account program and receiving matching funds from sources other than the Individual Development Account Reserve Fund.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 10, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective May 26, 2000.

Sec. 31-51fff. Restrictions on funding expenditures to apply. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 31-51ww to 31-51eee, inclusive, any restrictions on funding expenditures required under any state or federal law shall apply.
(P.A. 00-192, S. 12, 102.)
History: P.A. 00-192 effective May 26, 2000.