April 20, 2012
By Nevin Adams, EBRI
Last week, EBRI Research Director Jack VanDerhei(1) testified before the House Ways & Means Committee on the subject of “Tax Reform and Tax-Favored Retirement Accounts”, a hearing described as considering “…the current menu of options for retirement savings—both with respect to employer-based defined contribution plans and with respect to IRAs.” According to Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI), the hearing was to “…explore whether, as part of comprehensive tax reform, various reform options could achieve the three goals of simplification, efficiency, and increasing retirement and financial security for American families.”
That hearing preceded by just a day Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) unveiling of his Fiscal Commission Budget Plan (see link here). That plan(2) referenced the original Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission’s “Illustrative” Tax Reform option under which the exclusion for employment-based health insurance would be eliminated, capping its value for five years and then phasing it out over 20 years, while retirement savings accounts would be consolidated, with a cap on tax-preferred contributions.(3)
While the prospects for actual legislation ahead of the November election seem unlikely, it is clear that concerns about the nation’s budget deficit will keep tax reform—and the tax status of workplace benefit programs—front-and-center in the weeks and months to come.
Appropriately enough, next month EBRI will host its 70th policy forum, titled “’After’ Math: The Impact and Influence of Incentives on Benefit Policy.” At this semi-annual policy forum, panels of experts will deal with a variety of pertinent and timely issues, including the potential impact of changes to current tax incentives for employee benefits, and the “true cost” of tax deferrals.
We’ll also talk about what 401(k)/defined contribution plans are delivering, and what individuals actually do after retirement with respect to their retirement savings, as well as optimal approaches on retirement income designs for defined contribution plans. We’ll even look around the globe for some potential lessons to be drawn from international comparisons.
It’s a day of information, interaction, and networking that you won’t want to miss.
However, seats are limited—reserve your place today. You can’t afford not to.
A copy of the full policy forum agenda, and registration information is online here.
1) A copy of Jack VanDerhei’s written testimony for the House Ways & Means Committee is available online here.
Video of the testimony is available in two sections, online here.
Additional information regarding the Ways & Means hearing is available online here.
2) See page 11, online here.
3) Last year an EBRI Notes article (July 2011, online here) analyzed the potential impact of those kind of changes on retirement savings.