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Key GOP Senator Proposes New IRA Rules
By Curt Anderson  Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A new type of 401(k) plan allowing money to be withdrawn tax-free would be created and numerous major changes would be made to other individual retirement arrangements under legislation proposed by a key Republican senator.

Sen. William Roth, R-Del., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and sponsor of the popular Roth IRA, said Friday the Retirement Savings Opportunity Act would "address the issue of baby boomers and others not having enough savings" for retirement.

As Congress and President Clinton debate how to ensure Social Security remains solvent, lawmakers are examining dozens of options to enable more people to guarantee their own retirement incomes.

Foremost among the bill's provisions would be a so-called "Roth 401(k)" plan that would differ from regular 401(k) plans in a crucial way: the earnings on contributions — while made on an after-tax basis — would be tax-free when they are distributed, much like the Roth IRA.

The rules for a Roth IRA would also change. The income limit on people wishing to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth would rise from $100,000 to $1 million and all income limits would be eliminated for people wishing to make a full annual contribution.

The measure would make these other changes:

—The maximum IRA contribution limit would rise from $2,000 to $5,000 per year and go up annually in $100 increments. Workers 50 and older could contribute up to $7,500.

—The maximum pre-tax contribution to a regular 401(k) plan would increase from $10,000 to $15,000; those 50 and older could contribute as much as $22,500 a year.

—For people who are active in a workplace pension plan, the amount they can contribute to traditional IRAs is limited by the amount they earn. Roth's bill would end all income limits.

There are several other provisions dealing with matching contributions by employers and laws governing certain pension plans. Roth is expected to introduce the measure in the Senate in a few days.

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