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The Predictable SurpriseUnraveling the U.S. Retirement System$
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Sylvester J. Schieber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199890958

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199890958.001.0001

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Tax Benefits and Benefit Taxes

Tax Benefits and Benefit Taxes

(p.279) 24 Tax Benefits and Benefit Taxes
The Predictable Surprise

Sylvester J. Schieber

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines issues regarding the distribution and costs of Social Security benefits. Since the passage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), much of the policy dialogue about employer-sponsored pension plans has focused on the “who” and the “how much” of the tax preferences. Policymakers’ concerns about high earners reaping too much subsidy from the tax deferral have led to repeated restrictions and reductions in pension contribution and benefit limits. Essentially the same concerns prompted policymakers to legislate widespread discrimination provisions and testing to ensure that retirement benefits were spread widely and fairly. The chapter considers policy issues of employer-sponsored retirement plans in relation to Social Security, along with payroll tax costs and benefits of Social Security participation. It presents data on the tax benefits of employer-sponsored retirement plans to show how the Social Security system interacts with private pensions. It also discusses the implications of Social Security spousal benefits and concludes by turning to the U.S. retirement policy.

Keywords:   retirement benefits, Social Security, Employee Retirement Income Security Act, employer-sponsored pension plans, tax preferences, tax benefits, retirement plans, private pensions, spousal benefits, retirement policy

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