NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 3, 2013

Administration wants your retirement plan to avert fiscal cliff

(Continued)

Another organization, the Insured Retirement Institute, echoed these concerns.

They announced (though the administration’s proposal) “does not explicitly call for changes in the tax status of annuities for all,” there are serious concerns “including the elimination of certain tax incentives for retirement savings and new limitations on deductions for retirement contributions.” IRI is urging policy makers “to protect incentives in place for Americans to attain financial security in retirement, particularly by maintaining the tax-deferred status of annuities for everyone.”

IRI’s “research has shown that the tax-deferred status of annuities has been pivotal in helping middle-income Americans utilize lifetime income strategies as part of their retirement savings plan,” said Cathy Weatherford, IRI’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Removing this incentive would not necessarily increase tax revenue, but certainly would add a new barrier that would prevent Americans from attaining lifetime income coverage. With today’s unprecedented retirement challenges, now more than ever, we need to protect the incentives available to help Americans attain a financially secure retirement.”

The references that Graff and Weatherford make stem from ongoing discussions that are now becoming more relevant with the looming crises and that also includes a well-stated goal of the administration’s budget plan to force employers to offer “mandated” retirement plans. This discussion has been going on for some time though.

In 2010 Sens. John Kerry, D-MA, and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., proposed ideas that have been circulating in discussions and public hearings at the Treasury and U.S. Labor Department since, which has been endorsed in the Obama administration’s 256-page Budget Proposal For Fiscal Year 2013. The centerpiece is an “Automatic IRA” in which employers are directed to allocate an amount that equals 3 percent of a participating employee’s salary into a social security-type retirement plan that invests in U.S. treasuries and in which the federal government guarantees a 3 percent return. Even though tax credits to businesses would be provided for this scheme, the concern is that this would add an additional cost burden on small businesses that would restrict job growth.

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