Actuaries Seek to “Save” 401(k) Plans from Tax Reform

As tax-reform talks heat up in Washington, one group is urging Congress to leave the benefits of 401(k) plans off the table.

The American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries launched a “Save My 401(k)” campaign earlier this week to “defend more than 60 million American workers’ 401(k) plans from congressional budget cuts.”

Last time Congress took up tax reform in 1986, employees’ 401(k) plans were cut by 70 percent, resulting in a mass termination of plans.

ASPPA is concerned that tax benefits for retirement plans could be on the chopping block as lawmakers and the Obama administration look for ways to raise revenue through tax reform in an effort to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

“Last time Congress took up tax reform in 1986, employees’ 401(k) plans were cut by 70 percent, resulting in a mass termination of plans,” said Brian Graff, ASPPA’s executive director and CEO.

Associations “have a particularly unique situation, because not only do they have a 401(k) limit, they also have a 457 limit,” said Graff, referring to another form of tax-advantaged deferred-compensation plan available to some nonprofits. “So if there’s a cut to one, there’ll be a cut to both, and that could be very devastating to the retirement security of folks who work at associations.”

Graff recently told Reuters that ASPPA hopes to raise awareness among employers and employees that they may be in danger of losing some of the tax breaks surrounding their retirement plans. “If 401(k) plans lose some tax advantages, small businesses may terminate their plans because the costs will outweigh the benefits,” he said.

“We understand Congress needs to reduce the debt and raise revenue, but raiding the tax incentives for 401(k) plans will put American workers’ retirement security at risk,” Graff said. “Tens of millions of Americans participate in these retirement plans, and 80 percent of them earn less than $100,000 per year.”

The group’s website contains videos, a game, and infographics that detail the importance of maintaining these tax benefits. Users can email Congress with their concerns directly from the site.

“More and more associations, like private employers, are freezing or eliminating their defined-benefit [pension] plans and converting over to 401(k)-style plans,” said Graff. “Given the evolution toward more employees being covered by 401(k)-style plans, it’s critically important that those incentives stay in place so those employees have a meaningful opportunity to prepare for retirement.”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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