Americans Want to Preserve Tax Incentives of Retirement Plans

Nearly nine in 10 households oppose any action by the government taking away the tax advantages of DC retirement accounts.

A strong majority of U.S. households—including those with and those without retirement plan accounts—disagree with proposals to remove or reduce tax incentives for retirement savers using defined contribution (DC) accounts, according to new survey findings by the Investment Company Institute (ICI).

Eighty-eight percent of households disagreed with the notion that the government should take away the tax advantages of DC accounts, and 90% disagreed with reducing the amount that individuals can contribute to DC accounts. These percentages are up from 86% and 83%, respectively, one year ago.   

Even among households not owning DC accounts or individual retirement accounts (IRAs), more than eight in 10 rejected the idea of taking away or reducing the current tax treatment of DC accounts.

Eight in 10 households with DC accounts said the tax treatment of their retirement plans is a big incentive to contribute.

“Past budget and tax reform initiatives have proposed to limit the benefits of tax deferral on retirement plan contributions or cap the amount Americans can save in their 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts, and pensions,” says ICI President and CEO Paul Schott Stevens. “This ICI survey reaffirms our consistent finding that Americans strongly support current tax incentives for retirement saving and want those benefits to be preserved. All workers, regardless of income, benefit from the current tax treatment for retirement plan saving, and we urge policymakers, as they consider legislation in this area, not to curtail these important incentives to save for retirement.”

Nine in 10 DC account-owning households said they appreciate paycheck-by-paycheck saving, and nearly all DC account-owning households agreed that choice in, and control of, the investments in their retirement plan accounts is important. Among U.S. households, whether they owned retirement accounts or not, most generally expressed confidence in DC plans’ ability to help individuals meet their retirement goals. Eight in 10 households owning DC accounts or IRAs indicated such confidence. Even among households without a DC account or IRA, three in five reported having this measure of confidence.

ICI’s latest report, “American Views on Defined Contribution Plan Saving,” is based on survey results from more than 3,000 respondents in November and December 2014.