Why is it that the government gets to tell me when I can spend my money?
That’s a question I have asked myself many times. The “you can’t touch it until you’re 60” rule is proof of why it is not the business of government to get involved in what private citizens do with their money (within the bounds of the law). I remember hearing a story from the Romney campaign about Mitt Romney sitting down with his sons at dinner and asking them about their savings. He was surprised to learn that none of them had any savings in the form of 401K or IRA accounts. Their reasoning was that they could not afford to lock up money in that kind of long term plan because they would not be prepared if they had any financial emergency. I remember thinking “I can relate to that.” For Mitt Romney the result was that he now proposes a Tax Free Savings Policy:
Governor Romney Will Make Middle Class Savings Tax Free. Governor Romney’s plan will allow middle class Americans to save tax free by changing the tax rate on interest, capital gains and dividends to absolutely 0%. By helping more Americans save and invest, we can meet the challenges of an aging population and ensure the financial security of America.
– Governor Romney’s Plan Will Allow Over 95% Of American Families To Save And Invest Tax-Free. Any taxpayer with Adjusted Gross Income of under $200,000 would pay a tax rate of absolutely 0% on all of the income they earn from their savings, capital gains and dividends.
My experience has been that I got a job and could not contribute to the 401K plan at the company for 6 months – of course that was when I was technically working as a contractor from a temp agency. At the end of the 6 months my job status changed to being a direct employee of the company and the clock restarted on their waiting period before I could contribute to their 401K plan. I had hardly begun contributing to that 401K plan after their waiting period before the company started downsizing and I was out of a job. I now work for a very small company that does not offer a 401K so I have to roll over my pittance from the other plan into a personal IRA, but I can’t actually invest the money until I have many time more money than I would be rolling over. My current company offers a 403B but there is no guarantee of their matching anything I contribute so the incentive is absent.
As I was contemplating that predicament I also started to consider the implications of contributing to either a 401K, a 403B, or an IRA – anything I might put in any of those would be locked away. What if I had a need, or what if I wanted to retire early? If I put my savings in any of those I would have to have a separate means of savings to fund an early retirement. Essentially the government is locking me into working for at least 30 years unless I have a very lucrative career.
From my perspective the tax-free savings policy sounds like a good thing. I hope it gets enacted. Maybe our current lame-duck president could start pushing for it. If he did I can guarantee that I would view him more favorably at the end of his term than I currently view him.