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For decades, the U.S. tax code has provided preferential tax treatment to employer-provided pensions, 401(k)-type plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) relative to other forms of savings. The effectiveness of this system of subsidies remains a subject of controversy. Despite the accumulation of vast amounts of wealth in pension accounts, concerns persist about the ability of the pension system to raise private and national savings, and in particular to improve savings among those households most in danger of inadequately preparing for retirement.
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