Money

3 ways the Trump administration seems to be making it harder to save for retirement

President Donald Trump
Nicholas Kamm | Getty Images
President Donald Trump

In general, retirement prospects for Americans are bleak. Most families have little or nothing stashed away.

And, depending on your situation, preparing for retirement may become even more difficult, as the Trump administration makes moves on tax reform and other priorities.

Here are three changes the administration has already implemented, or is considering implementing, that could affect your savings.

1. Eliminating myRA retirement accounts

In late July, the Treasury Department ended the Obama-era myRA program, which was designed to help those who didn't have access to a 401(k) or other retirement plan at work. There was not enough demand for the accounts to justify the expense, United States Treasurer Jovita Carranza said in a statement.

While the program encouraged saving for retirement, it had its limitations and not everyone thought it was a good idea. Still, since its launch in November 2015, 30,000 participants had contributed a total of $34 million to myRA plans.

"Any time you limit or eliminate a tool in the consumer's tool kit, you take away an opportunity for someone to prepare and plan ahead," certified financial planner and author Mark Baird tells CNBC Make It. "All-in-all, [it was] not an optimal product, but for those that participated, it at least got them going in the right direction."

2. Delaying implementation of the fiduciary rule

"Just this week, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposal to delay full implementation of the fiduciary rule for another 18 months," reports the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The Trump administration already delayed implementation of the rule once earlier this year.

The fiduciary rule, which was one of the Labor Department's achievements under former President Barack Obama, requires financial advisors to act in the best interests of clients when it comes to overseeing retirement accounts.

The Obama administration had estimated that it would save retirement investors about $17 billion a year in hidden fees and lost earning potential.

"Implementing the fiduciary rule sooner rather than later benefits consumers," certified financial planner at Personal Capital Michelle Brownstein tells CNBC Make It, "because it legally requires financial advisors to give advice in the best interest of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. I don't know anyone who would choose to go to a doctor that hasn't taken the Hippocratic oath to 'do no harm,' so taking financial advice from someone who does not have to act as a fiduciary to you is something I would not condone."

Opponents of the rule argue that it will limit customers' investment options and increase costs for the financial advisory industry.

If the delay is approved, financial firms would have until July 2019 to make tweaks.

3. Changing the rules governing 401(k)s

One "idea quietly being discussed" among lawmakers as part of tax reform, Politico reports, is to tax the money employees contribute to their 401(k) plans up front.

Currently, any money you send to a 401(k) is tax-deferred. You'll pay taxes on your contributions and investment gains only when you withdraw the money, which you can do starting at age 59½.

The change would affect the amount you owe in taxes and when you would have to pay. Taxing 401(k) contributions up front "benefits investors who are in a lower tax bracket now and will be in a higher one in retirement, and it harms those in a higher bracket today than they will be in the future," says Brownstein.

The added cost of paying taxes up front also could reduce the amount many Americans are able to contribute, and retirement savings are already dangerously low.

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