News Release

A Tale of Two Retirements

USA Today reports: “The 100 largest U.S. CEO retirement packages are worth a combined $4.9 billion, equal to the entire retirement account savings of 41 percent of American families, according to the report by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute for Policy Studies watchdog groups.”

SCOTT KLINGER, sklinger at foreffectivegov.org, @scottklinger1
​Klinger is the director of revenue and spending policies at Center for Effective Government, which co-published the study titled “Tale of Two Retirements.”

He said today: “We examined the retirement assets of the Fortune 500 CEOs. … One CEO, David Novak from YUM Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC), has $234 million in his retirement account, yet hundreds of thousands of YUM’s low-wage restaurant workers have no retirement at all.

“All this happens when people are more reliant on Social Security than ever, and the government has just announced no cost-of-living increases for retirees next year.​ …

“The CEOs’ extraordinary nest eggs are not the result of extraordinary performance. They are the result of rules intentionally tipped to reward those already on the highest rungs of the ladder.”

The report revealed that “Fortune 500 CEOs have $3.2 billion in special tax-deferred compensation accounts that are exempt from the annual contribution limits imposed on ordinary 401(k)s. In 2014, these CEOs saved $78 million on their tax bills by putting $197 million more in these tax-deferred accounts than they could have if they were subject to the same rules as other workers. These special accounts grow tax-free until the executives retire and begin to withdraw the funds.

It also found that “the ten largest CEO retirement funds — all held by white males — add up to $1.4 billion, compared to $280 million for the 10 largest held by female CEOs, and $196 million for the 10 largest held by CEOs who are people of color. Among ordinary Americans, 62 percent of working age African-Americans and 69 percent of Latinos have no retirement savings, compared to just 37 percent of white workers.”