401(k) Tax Changes May Be On Fast Track

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(k) Tax Changes May Be On Fast TrackBy Joe Mont
As officials in Washington grapple with debt reduction and the need
for increased revenue, rethinking the tax structure of 401(k) and IRA
plans has come under consideration and could be included in deficit
reduction proposals due in December.
"All of the reforms I read about lately seem directed toward reducing
the amount of money that people may set aside in defined contribution
plans and IRAs," U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, ranking member of
the Senate Finance Committee, says in his remarks. "For example, the
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility recommended capping
pretax contributions at $20,000. The Congressional Budget Office
describes a proposal to reduce annual contributions to 401(k)-type
plans by $7,650 for older workers, largely by repealing the ability of
workers at age 50 to begin making catch-up contributions. IRA
contributions also would be cut by $1,500 for older individuals."
"Many of these proposals are offered in the name of greater
progressivity in the tax code, and helping lower-wage workers," he
added. "But this just doesn't make sense. Trying to help lower-wage
workers save for retirement by reducing the 401(k) and IRA
contribution limits is like trying to cure a headache with a
guillotine. The cure is worse than the disease. I am concerned that if
these proposals were adopted many employers will throw up their hands
in disgust and just drop their plans."
Currently, individuals can contribute up to $16,500 a year pretax, or
tax deferred. The total amount that can be contributed combining
employee and employer contributions is 100% of the worker's
compensation or $49,000, whichever is less. Tax-deferred contributions
to IRA accounts are limited to $5,000 a year.
One of the notable proposals pitched during the hearing would would
convert the current deduction to a flat tax credit.
I oppose these changes. Saving should be encouraged, not discouraged.
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