Republicans In Congress Eye Retirement Account Tax Reforms

One retirement industry advocate says recent meetings on Capitol Hill have left him with the expectation that “we will start to see proposals soon that will have a number of provisions—good and bad—that alter the retirement system.”

By John Manganaro | March 28, 2017
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Will Hansen, senior vice president of retirement policy for the ERISA Industry Committee, is among the long list of Washington policy watchers who have pretty much given up making strong predictions about what may unfold in Congress over the coming years.

Hansen agrees with many others who have suggested in conversation with PLANADVISER that today’s political environment is equal parts fascinating and frustrating—infused with just about as much uncertainty as at any time in recent memory. After all, who would ever have predicted that House Republicans, after successfully voting to overturn Obamacare literally dozens of times while the Democrats still held the White House, would in fact fail to do so once a president from their own party took the reins?  

“Conventional political wisdom has all but broken down,” Hansen observes. “Unfortunately this is happening at a time when a big shift is going on in the way people work and in the way they save for retirement.”

Hansen participated in the 2016 PLANSPONSOR National Conference, where he gave a presentation with Tami Simon, of Buck Consultants, on the emerging “gig economy.” He agrees that this topic has actually moved to the backburner given more recent political developments.

“It may not be a hot topic of conversation for lawmakers, but the outlook for work and retirement is shifting in a broad way for Americans,” he continues. “Unfortunately it has really only been a quiet issue, when viewed from the legislative front. There is not enough conversation going on around the question, how do we alter our retirement policy to adapt to an independent contractor-dominated workforce? The natural legislative response should be moving towards open MEPs and that type of an approach, making it easier for those in this situation to be able to save. This has been pushed to the backburner at least in recent months.”

NEXT: Assessing the prospects for tax reform