This is one of the things that keeps coming up and coming up. From the NYPost:
Uncle Sam, in a desperate attempt to fix its $16 trillion-plus deficit, is leering over Americans’ retirement nest egg as its new bailout fund.
Capitol Hill politicians are assessing tax changes that could let the Internal Revenue Service lay claim to a portion of the $18 trillion sitting in 401(k) accounts and other tax breaks used by middle-class workers, including cutting the mortgage tax deduction.
A commission looking for ways to close the deficit, and, noting the extent of 401(k) tax breaks, recommends an examination of the system as one way to prevent government bankruptcy.
It's a little murky on details. Who exactly is doing this out-of-the-box thinking?
Another proposal being discussed in Congress says all tax deductions on 401(k)s and IRAs to be replaced with an 18 percent credit. The credit, according to a proposal that has been endorsed by economist William Gale, would be placed directly in a person’s retirement account.
“Unlike the current system,” Gale told Congress, “workers’ and firms’ contributions to employer-based 401(k) accounts would no longer be excluded from income and would be subject to taxation, contributions to IRAs would no longer be tax-deductible and any contributions to a 401(k) plan would be treated as taxable income.”
In other words, the employee and employer would no longer get a deduction under the Gale plan, they would qualify for a credit. And the credit would “increase [government] revenues by about $458 billion,” Gale says.
It's unlikely anything like this is going to pass. But it does have a disquieting effect, doesn't it? All the more reason, I think, why November is a very important month.