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I think you know this, but don't confuse the marginal tax rate with your effective tax rate in figuring the advantages or disadvantages of the tax-deferral. Here are the 2014 brackets:

Generally while working, in higher brackets you are saving at the marginal tax rate by adding to a traditional 401k or TIRA. In many examples this is 25%. When withdrawing from those funds in retirement you most likely are paying tax through each bracket.

Even if being taxed on 85% of your social security payments AND tax-deferred accounts to the 25% marginal rate or 100% of your old earnings, your overall effective tax rate is more likely something like 15%. That's a pretty good reason for higher income individuals to take the TIRA or traditional 401k.

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