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Retirement Theft in 4 Despicable Steps

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page and our Politics and Democracy page.

The fear of running out of money in retirement is America's  greatest financial concern. It's a fear greater than  death.

But the American workers who have paid all their lives for retirement security are being cheated by wealthy individuals and corporations who refuse to meet their tax obligations, and who have found other ways to keep expanding their wealth at the expense of the middle class.

1. Federal Tax Avoidance is the Biggest Threat to Social Security

Conservatives say that Social Security is too expensive, and that  cutbacks and a later  retirement age are necessary. But they refuse to acknowledge the facts about missing revenue. Annual  tax avoidance by wealthy individuals and corporations is in the trillions of dollars, over double the cost of Social Security.

Big corporations are the worst offenders. The numbers are startling. For every dollar they paid relative to payroll tax in the 1950s, they  now pay ten cents. In just the past ten years they've cut their tax rate  in half.

The sum total of tax underpayments, tax haven losses, corporate tax avoidance, and tax expenditures (most of which benefit the very rich) is  over $2 trillion. Although Social Security costs  less than half of that, Congress is targeting Americans who have paid into it at the highest rate, while tax avoiders are left undisturbed.

From whom does Congress propose to take retirement benefits? From people whose average retirement account is under $30,000, and for whom Social Security is the  largest source of retirement income. From those who have already experienced  Social Security cuts through delayed cost-of-living adjustments and higher taxes. From the half of the middle class whose food budget, by one  estimate, will be $5 a day in their retirement years.     


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