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PRC Perspectives Blog

Time to Fix a Fiscal Mistake

Posted by on April 14, 2009

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Roth alternative in the Thrift Savings Plan for government employees. Roths are the antithesis of sensible tax and budget policy. Rather than expanding them to federal employees, Congress should scrap them.

As most of us know, there are now two choices in both IRAs and 401(k)s. With a traditional IRA or 401(k), the contribution is not taxed when made, but distributions from the retirement plan are taxable. In both Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, the contribution is taxed in the year that it is made, but distributions are tax-free.

The advantage of either alternative is the same -- the elimination of tax on investment income. The difference is when the money is taxed.  This may seem like a minor difference, but the amount of money that you can accumulate tax-free can be greater in a Roth. More...

A company shows compassion

Posted by Nancy Hwa on April 09, 2009

These days, it's not often that we agree with the decisions companies make when it comes to pensions (take a look at our lists of companies that have frozen their pensions or that have cut their 401(k) matches), but an activist alerted us to one company that is actually doing the right thing. As reported in the Times of Northwest Indiana last week, steel giant ArcelorMittal is forgiving $960,000 in pension overpayments made to 79 widows of retired workers. Many of these women are in their 80s and 90s and have relied on their survivor's pension for decades. Having to pay back years of overpayments would have been a severe hardship for them. More...

News you can use

Posted by Rebecca Davis on April 07, 2009

With tax day approaching, Andrea Coombes of MarketWatch.com has written a helpful column about the Making Work Pay credit, a 2009 tax credit given to all working Americans with earnings under a certain amount. To implement this credit, the I.R.S. has issued new tax withholding tables. However, as she notes, implementing the tax credit through withholding tables are a  "blunt instrument", resulting in some workers having too much taken out of their paychecks or having too little withheld. More...

Recommended Reading

Posted by Nancy Hwa on April 01, 2009

In the uproar over the million-dollar bonuses given to AIG executives, AIG's defenders claimed that the company was forced to give out these bonuses because of contracts it signed with the executives.  In Sunday's St. Petersburg Times, columnist Robyn Blumner uses AIG and United Airlines to make a terrific point about the disgraceful inequities in bankruptcy laws that give rank-and-file workers' pensions the shaft, while executives can still walk away with millions.  Give it a read. More...

How does your 401(k) measure up (or fall short)?

Posted by Kyle Garrett on March 30, 2009

In the current economic climate, few of us want to open our 401(k) statements.  As we've written in the past, the faltering stock market, combined with employers eliminating their 401(k) matching contributions, has made retirement security quite a gamble.  But if you are one of the brave, a new tool can help you find out how your 401(k) measures up to 401(k) plans at other companies. More...

Stop scapegoating public workers

Posted by Rebecca Davis on March 25, 2009

Since the beginning of the economic downturn we've seen a lot of stories in the news about the decline in the funding status of pension plans.  Given that pension plans are heavily invested in the stock market, real estate and other assets that have lost significant value in the economic downturn, it would follow suit that the funding levels in these plans have also decreased. More...

The Office gets a 401(k) reality check

Posted by Joellen Leavelle on March 20, 2009

It isn't uncommon to hear people comparing NBC's hit television show, The Office, to their own workplaces.  Many of the events on the show mirror what happens in offices across the country.  But for many people last night's episode hit a little too close to home. More...

An Exciting Day for PRC

Posted by Rebecca Davis on March 12, 2009

The Pension Rights Center had a very exciting day on Tuesday as we joined with three other groups to unveil a new initiative called Retirement USA. Together with the Economic Policy Institute, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Service Employees International Union, we presented principles that would provide the basis for a new universal, secure, and adequate retirement system in addition to Social Security. More...

The Big 100: A somber milestone

Posted by Joellen Leavelle on February 26, 2009

Earlier this week, the Pension Rights Center's list of companies that have suspended their 401(k) matching contributions reached 100. More...

Retirement plan rules trump divorce decree

Posted by Rebecca Davis on February 20, 2009

The Supreme Court recently ruled that a retirement plan could follow its own rules even if they were inconsistent with the terms of a divorce decree. The decision is an important one, not just because of the legal precedent that it sets, but also because it serves as an important warning to anyone who has a retirement savings plan. More...

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