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|Subject: Congress looking at cutting 401k tax deduction||Date: 9/17/2011 12:42 AM|
|Author: intercst||Number: 69598 of 76421|
The tax break for defined contribution retirement plans will cost the Treasury $212.2 billion between 2010 and 2014, according to the Joint Tax Committee. But the vast amount of that benefit - as much as 80 percent - goes to the top 20 percent of earners, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan, but liberal-leaning, think tank.
For example, a person in the 35 percent tax bracket saves $35 in taxes every time he puts $100 in his 401(k), for a net cost of $65. Someone in the 15 percent bracket pays $85, after tax, for the same $100 contribution. The Pension Rights Center, which has favored traditional defined benefit pensions and other programs aimed at lower-income retirees, advocates rolling back the current $16,500 annual 401(k) tax-deferred contribution limit to the $10,500 level it was at before the Bush tax cuts, its director, Karen Ferguson, has said.
One way to address both the cost and the disparity is to change the deduction into a credit. William Gale, of the Brookings Institution, will present a plan like that to the Senate committee on Thursday. His plan would eliminate the deduction entirely and replace it with a federal match that would be deposited directly into workers retirement accounts. A match of 30 percent would be revenue neutral, he says.
If lawmakers instead opted to approve an 18 percent match, it would leave low-bracket workers unharmed, but would raise $450 billion in tax revenues over 10 years.
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