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Taxing Retirement Income: Nonqualified Annuities and Distributions from Qualified Accounts

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  • Jeffrey R. Brown
  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • James M. Poterba
  • Mark J. Warshawsky

Abstract

This paper explores the current tax treatment of non-qualified immediate annuities and distributions from tax-qualified retirement plans in the United States. First, we describe how immediate annuities held outside retirement accounts are taxed. We conclude that the current income tax treatment of annuities does not substantially alter the incentive to purchase an annuity rather than a taxable bond. We nevertheless find differences across different individuals in the effective tax burden on annuity contracts. Second, we examine an alternative method of taxing annuities that would avoid changing the fraction of the annuity payment that is included in taxable income as the annuitant ages, but would still raise the same expected present discounted value of revenues as the current income tax rule. We find that a shift to a constant inclusion ratio increases the utility of annuitants, and that this increase is greater for more risk averse individuals. Third, we examine how payouts from qualified accounts are taxed, focusing on both annuity payouts and minimum distribution requirements that constrain the feasible time path of nonannuitized payouts. We describe briefly the origins and workings of the minimum distribution rules and we also provide evidence on the fraction of retirement assets potentially affected by these rules.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7268.

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Date of creation: Jul 1999
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Publication status: published as National Tax Journal, Vol. 52, no. 3 (September 1999): 563-592.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7268

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  1. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 1998. "Implications of Rising Personal Retirement Saving," NBER Chapters, in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 125-172 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Olivia S. Mitchell & Roderick Carr, . "State and Local Pension Plans," Pension Research Council Working Papers 95-13, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1995. "Lump-Sum Distributions from Retirement Saving Plans: Receipt and Utilization," NBER Working Papers 5298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba & Mark J. Warshawsky, 1997. "New Evidence on the Money's Worth of Individual Annuities," NBER Working Papers 6002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 1999. "The Role of Real Annuities and Indexed Bonds in an Individual Accounts Retirement Program," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 99-18, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. James F. Moore & Olivia S. Mitchell, . "Projected Retirement Wealth and Saving Adequacy," Pension Research Council Working Papers 98-1, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. James Poterba, 1997. "The Estate Tax and After-Tax Investment Returns," NBER Working Papers 6337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Friedberg, Leora & webb, anthony, 2000. "The Impact of 401(k) Plans on Retirement," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt2jr5w8b9, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  2. Leora Friedberg & Anthony Webb, 2003. "Retirement and the Evolution of Pension Structure," NBER Working Papers 9999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jingjing Chai & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell & Ralph Rogalla, 2011. "Lifecycle Impacts of the Financial and Economic Crisis on Household Optimal Consumption, Portfolio Choice, and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 17134, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ivica Dus & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Betting on Death and Capital Markets in Retirement: A Shortfall Risk Analysis of Life Annuities," NBER Working Papers 11271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Milevsky, Moshe Arye & Panyagometh, Kamphol, 2001. "Variable annuities versus mutual funds: a Monte-Carlo analysis of the options," Financial Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1-4), pages 145-161.
  6. Olivia S. Mitchell & David McCarthy, 2002. "Annuities for an Ageing World," NBER Working Papers 9092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Johann K. Brunner & Susanne Pech, 2006. "Optimum Taxation of Life Annuities," CESifo Working Paper Series 1642, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Dus, Ivica & Maurer, Raimond H. & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2004. "Betting on death and capital markets in retirement: A shortfall risk analysis of life annuities versus phased withdrawal plans," CFS Working Paper Series 2004/01, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  9. Jeffrey R. Brown & Olivia S. Mitchell & James M. Poterba, 2000. "Mortality Risk, Inflation Risk, and Annuity Products," NBER Working Papers 7812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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