Washington’s Backward Retirement Policy: So Wrong, and Yet So Easy to Fix – James Kwak – The Atlantic

Washington’s Backward Retirement Policy: So Wrong, and Yet So Easy to Fix – James Kwak – The Atlantic.

Not too long ago I had a short “letter to the editor” published in the NY Times that was similar to this topic.  This author focuses on the fact that the tax breaks for retirement savings is primarily going to people who would have saved that money anyway, but my point is that this is another example of a prescriptive tax plan.  In many ways, the government uses tax breaks as incentives to change peoples’ behavior – in this case, they hoped that tax breaks would motivate people to save more.  In some ways, I’m sure it did – when I had the disposable income to put into savings, I did use the tax break as a reason to max out the savings account that would reduce my tax burden, but I didn’t put any more into savings than I would have without that tax break, just as this author pointed out.  So overall, this particular piece of tax policy just seems misguided.  My issue is with tax breaks for getting married, for buying a house, and for having children – the government has no legitimate reason to be creating incentives for that kind of behavior, other than, presumably, a desire to reinforce our heteronormative culture of consumption.  I have long been arguing that a large number of the problems in the current budget deficits could be cut if our tax policy was a little more ration with a lot fewer loopholes, such as this one for retirement savings or the tax break you get for getting married.

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