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In: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17

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  • Jagadeesh Gokhale
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Abstract

Thanks to recent changes in the tax law, people can contribute more to their tax-deductible and non-tax-deductible savings plans, including 401(k) and Roth IRAs. But should they? The myriad interacting provisions of the tax code make it difficult to predict who will gain from government savings incentives and by how much. This study examines how new legislation affects the lifetime tax gains (or losses) of low, middle, and high lifetime earners if they contribute the maximum to 401(k) accounts, traditional IRA accounts, and Roth IRA accounts. The study finds that the new legislation changes little for low- and middle-income earners, who paid higher lifetime taxes under the old tax law if they participated fully in tax-deferred plans and would still do so under the new law. If a new tax credit created by the legislation were extended and indexed to inflation, low earners would break even, but middle earners would still lose. In contrast, participating in a Roth IRA provides a guaranteed and nontrivial lifetime tax saving; however, one need not contribute the maximum to receive the full benefit.

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This chapter was published in:

  • James Poterba, 2003. "Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 17," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote03-1, July.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11536.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11536

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 2004. "The Transition to Personal Accounts and Increasing Retirement Wealth: Macro- and Microevidence," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 17-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Mark J. Warshawsky, 2001. "Life-Cycle Saving, Limits on Contributions to DC Pension Plans, and Lifetime Tax Benefits," NBER Working Papers 8170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Todd Neumann, 2001. "Does Participating in a 401(k) Raise Your Lifetime Taxes?," NBER Working Papers 8341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Katherine Grace Carman & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2003. "The Impact on Consumption and Saving of Current and Future Fiscal Policies," NBER Working Papers 10085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Richard Johnson, 2003. "Portfolio choice in tax-deferred and Roth-type savings accounts," Research Working Paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City RWP 03-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

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