The tax treatment of funded pensions
This report makes an international comparison of the tax treatment of funded pensions and finds that the expenditure-tax system is the best way of taxing pensions because it does not distort the decision whether to consume now or save and consume in the future, unlike the comprehensive income tax; rather it taxes pensions once: either when contributions are made or when benefits are withdrawn. Moreover, it is easy to administer and the tax burden does not vary arbitrarily with inflation. The report also finds that in the context of the design and implementation of a pension reform, it is important to take the cost of tax relief, measured by tax expenditures, into account. The report is structured as follows: Section 1 considers a number of different ways to tax pensions. Section 2 describes the tax treatment of pensions in a range of countries. Section 3 extends the analysis to compute a summary measure of the generosity of tax incentives. Section 4 considers the link between the taxation of pension funds and the tax treatment of the underlying assets in which they invest. Section 5 examines the deductibility of contributions. Sections 6 and 7 look at the importance of pension funds and associated tax incentives in the aggregate. Section 8 assesses the objectives for taxing pensions, the options, and the arguments while section 9 concludes.
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