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Should the Government be Paying Investment Fees on $3 Trillion of Tax-Deferred Retirement Assets?

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  • Mattia Landoni
  • Stephen P. Zeldes

Abstract

Under standard assumptions, both individuals and the government are indifferent between traditional tax-deferred retirement accounts and “front-loaded” (Roth) accounts. When we add investment fees to this benchmark, individuals are still indifferent but the government is not. We estimate that tax deferral increases demand for asset management services by $3 trillion, causing the government to pay $20.7 billion in corresponding annual fees. In a general equilibrium model with asset management services as differentiated products, we examine the incidence and welfare implications of the added demand. Tax deferral in our model produces a larger asset management industry, higher taxes, and lower social welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Mattia Landoni & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2020. "Should the Government be Paying Investment Fees on $3 Trillion of Tax-Deferred Retirement Assets?," NBER Working Papers 26700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26700
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G51 - Financial Economics - - Household Finance - - - Household Savings, Borrowing, Debt, and Wealth
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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