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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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 0114.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0114

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Keywords: Saving and investment;

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 2004. "The Transition to Personal Accounts and Increasing Retirement Wealth: Macro- and Microevidence," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 17-80 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Richard Johnson, 2003. "Portfolio choice in tax-deferred and Roth-type savings accounts," Research Working Paper RWP 03-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  2. 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.

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