Close Close

Retirement Planning > Saving for Retirement

Savers Oppose Eliminating 401(k) Tax Incentives: ICI

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

As the nation anticipates President Donald Trump’s first budget, which will inevitably detail tax measures that will take a hit, new research by the Investment Company Institute finds that Americans value the current tax incentives for retirement saving and “overwhelmingly” oppose changing them.

ICI, a trade group for mutual funds and ETFs, reports that U.S. households favor preserving retirement account features and flexibility, with 89% of all US households disagreeing with the statement that the government should take away the tax advantages of defined contribution accounts, and 90% voting against the idea of reducing the amount that individuals can contribute to DC accounts.

The research, released Wednesday, “American Views on Defined Contribution Plan Saving, 2016,” also found that even among households that do not own DC accounts or individual retirement accounts, 82% reject the idea of taking away the tax treatment of DC accounts.

“As Congress moves forward in looking at tax reforms, we hope lawmakers will keep in mind that tax-favored savings are an extremely important underpinning of the successful 401(k) system,” said ICI president and CEO Paul Schott Stevens, in a statement announcing the report.

The study also found that investors value “investment control,” and resist suggestions to change such control in DC accounts.

According to the survey of 2,000 American adults:

  • Nine out of 10 respondents (92%) agree that retirees should be able to make their own decisions about how to manage retirement assets and income. 
  • Eight out of 10 (84%) disagree with investing all retirement accounts in an investment option selected by a government-appointed board of experts.
  • Nearly eight out of 10 households disagree that retirees should be required to trade a portion of their retirement accounts for a fair contract promising them income for life.

“Our survey demonstrates that DC plan participants appreciate the opportunity to save from every paycheck, as well as the tax treatment for their retirement nest egg that a 401(k) plan offers,” added Sarah Holden, ICI’s senior director for retirement and investor research. “DC plan participants’ overall support for maintaining investment control is strong, and they typically agree that their DC plans offer a good lineup of investment options.”

A separate study released by ICI the same day, “Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, First Three Quarters of 2016,” found that Americans continued to contribute to their plans during the first three quarters of 2016, with only 2.4% of DC plan participants discontinuing their contributions in those quarters.

The study tracks contributions, withdrawals and other activity, based on DC plan recordkeeper data covering more than 28 million participant accounts in employer-based DC plans.