More U.S. workers could end up having no retirement savings at all if the government eliminated 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and other tax-deferred savings programs.

Fidelity Investments, Boston, makes that case in a commentary that draws on results from a recent survey of 1,000 retirement plan participants and former participants.

Some policymakers in Washington have suggested that Obama administration members and members of Congress who are trying to cut the federal budget deficit should consider reducing or eliminating retirement savings incentives. The incentives lower tax revenue, make the tax system more complicated, and tend to help relatively high-income taxpayers more than they help lower-income taxpayers, critics of the incentives say.

But about 55% of current participants in 401(k) plans and other workplace savings plans told pollsters that they would not be saving for retirement if not for their 401(k) plans, Fidelity says.

About 19% of workplace plan participants have no retirement savings outside the workplace plans, Fidelity says.

Other survey findings:

  • 37% of workers have IRAs, and 33% participate in employer-sponsored pension plans.
  • 28% of workers have bank savings accounts.
  • 28% of workers have investments in stocks or bonds.

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