NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Universal Savings Accounts Could Improve Financial Planning

May 13, 2015

Canada and Britain have implemented universal savings vehicles, which have been a roaring success in Canada and Britain, and both countries have recently expanded them.

  • In Canada, the government's new budget increased the annual contribution limit on Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) from $5,500 to $10,000. 
  • In Britain, the annual contribution limit on Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) was recently increased to 15,240 pounds (about $23,000).

TFSAs and ISAs are impressive reforms—they are pro-growth, pro-family and pro-freedom.

America should create a version of these accounts. As with Roth IRAs, individuals would contribute to Universal Savings Accounts (USAs) with after-tax income, and then earnings and withdrawals would be tax-free. With USAs, withdrawals could be made at any time for any reason.

USAs, TFSAs and ISAs adopt the principle that saving for all reasons is important, not just reasons chosen by the government. When people can use such accounts for all types of saving and for any length of time, it increases simplicity, flexibility and liquidity.

In the United States, the government chooses which savings to favor, with the result that we have a mess of separate accounts with different rules for retirement, health care, and education. Everyone agrees that Americans do not save enough, and one reason is the complexity of savings accounts. The creation of large accounts for all types of saving would simplify personal financial planning and encourage more saving.

Source: Chris Edwards, "Universal Savings Accounts (USAs)," Cato Institute, May 11, 2015. 

 

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