February 24,1999


WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing to examine the current status, availability and effectiveness of tax-favored savings vehicles, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457 plans. The following is the opening statement of Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE):

"Today the Committee will hear testimony about the various types of tax-favored savings vehicles available to taxpayers and how well they are working. We will also hear testimony on how we can increase savings in these vehicles and how actual taxpayers and small businesses make decisions on how to save.

"One of the concerns of many Americans is will I have enough to live on when I retire. According to a study published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, about one third of Americans are not confident that they will have enough to live on in their retirement years. Social Security is an important component of an individual's retirement income, but savings -- whether through personal accounts or through employer-provided retirement plans -- will help provide for a better life at retirement. There must be ways to get more Americans interested in providing for their retirement years and I hope that today's witnesses will give us some answers.

"Our tax system provides for various tax incentives for savings. For savings through the workplace, there are 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and 457 plans, each that can be sponsored by different types of employers. For individual savings, there is either the traditional IRA or the Roth IRA. And all these different savings vehicles have different limits on how much individuals can save. Quite frankly, I believe that our current system can do more and that the limitations that we placed on retirement savings in times of budgetary restraints should be re-examined now.

"I should also note that issues relating to retirement are not only a concern of mine, but they are the concerns of many of the members of this Committee. The Administration also has ideas on how to increase retirement savings. I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis to providing needed improvements to this country's retirement system.

"While our current system for retirement savings has gotten more complicated over time, I am sure that our witnesses today can lead us through our system and tell us what works and what doesn't work. I look forward to their insights."

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