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The swift advancement of aging populations combined with declining birth rates is increasingly highlighting the critical role of pensions. Growing skepticism about the long-term viability of public pension systems is fueling a shift toward reinforcing private pension schemes. This shift is notably evident in key nations including South Korea. A pivotal factor in bolstering private pensions is the structure of the pension tax system. Indeed, tax incentives are the primary motivators for private pension plans. The configuration of this tax system profoundly affects how individuals allocate their pension assets and can also influence the evolution of capital markets.

In South Korea, the pension framework is broadly categorized into public and private systems. The public pension system encompasses national pensions and occupational pensions, while private pensions comprise employer-based retirement plans such as Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) schemes, along with individual retirement plans like IRP and pension savings. The taxation approach for pensions predominantly adheres to the EET method. This method entails exemption (non-taxation) at the contribution phase, exemption on earnings at the management phase, and taxation at the pension income distribution phase.

Challenges within the domestic private pension tax system include a lack of diversity in tax-advantaged pension plans, insufficient tax incentives to encourage the pensionization of retirement benefits, and relatively low limits on income deductions (or tax credits) compared to overseas, with inflexible limit adjustments.

This study undertook a comparative examination of pension tax systems in key international jurisdictions to investigate the evolving trends in these systems. Through the analysis of pension tax systems in the United States, Japan, Australia, and Germany, it was confirmed that various tax incentives are being provided for the development of the private pension market. A critical observation from studying these international pension tax systems is the recognition that the essence of an effective pension tax system hinges on the strategic design of tax benefits for pensions. In the case of private pensions, while there are some retirement plans where enrollment is compulsory like retirement pensions, many retirement plans operate based on the voluntary will of the subscribers. The most powerful incentives to induce voluntary subscription of the participants are tax benefits.

This study of international pension systems suggests several key legislative measures to develop the domestic pension tax system. Firstly, bolstering private pensions requires increasing the limits on tax benefits. Legislative reforms should allow for periodic adjustments to these limits, using economic indicators like the growth rate, inflation, and average wage increases. Secondly, to discourage the trend of opting for lump-sum withdrawals of retirement contributions, there's a need to consider higher tax rates on such lump-sum withdrawals. This approach would promote the receipt of retirement income in the form of pensions. Thirdly, the mechanism for offering tax benefits on pension contributions should shift from a tax credit method to an income deduction method. Fourthly, a variety of methods for providing tax benefits ought to be allowed. Specifically, introducing a TEE pension system could offer a new framework, where contributions are taxed, but earnings and withdrawals are exempt. Lastly, it is recommended to consider implementing a refundable tax credit system or a matching subsidy scheme for pension contributions made by socially vulnerable groups, ensuring a more inclusive and equitable pension system.