Americans age 45 and older with lower incomes worry more about rising taxes than those with higher incomes. But the over-45 group is also less likely to participate in a 401(k) or other retirement plans that could reduce their taxes or provide tax-free income, according to new research.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Simsbury, Conn., published this finding in a summary of results from a new report. The Hartford’s 2011 Taxes and Investment Study surveyed 750 Americans age 45 and older.

Rising taxes are cited as the biggest investment concern by 37% of respondents with annual incomes below $50,000, followed by inflation and market volatility. By comparison, only 28.5% of those with middle incomes (from $50,000 to $100,000) and 32% of those with high incomes (more than $100,000) were as worried about taxes.

Although those with higher incomes shared taxes as their No. 1 concern, they were almost equally concerned about market volatility, the survey says.

People with modest means were also considerably less likely to contribute to a 401(k) or similar retirement plan than higher-income Americans, the survey found. These individuals were similarly less likely to invest in equities or bonds typically found in IRAs, variable annuities or other retirement savings vehicles.

–Warren S. Hersch