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Giving people tax breaks on money that they save for their retirement would help ensure that more older Americans are able to meet their needs after leaving the workforce and would decrease the amount of money that otherwise will have to be spent on social programs aimed at assisting them.

A task force created by former Gov. Martin O'Malley issued a report this week warning about a "silver tsunami" that will hit as more people reach retirement age and don't have a cushion of savings built up.

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According to the report, "If Maryland doesn't act now, Maryland taxpayers will face higher costs for decades to come, as retirees are forced to turn to state assistance instead of living on their own savings."

The challenges facing us as Baby Boomers age out of the workforce isn't new. We've known for years that it was coming.

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Ccording to the report, more than a third of those who expect to retire within 10 years have saved less than $10,000. About 40 percent have no retirement plan.

U.S. Rep. Chris Van-Hollen, D-District 8, wants to let workers keep more of their money and has proposed a $1,000 per worker Paycheck Tax Credit which would phase out at an income of $100,000. He also wants to reward those who put away money for retirement by adding a $250 "Saver's Bonus" to every individual who applies at least $500 of that credit toward a tax-preferred savings plan.

According to the Maryland task force report, more than 1 million residents in the state have little or no retirement savings.

A bill in the state legislature would create a state non-profit retirement program so residents could invest their savings. It also would require small businesses to give employees the option of deducting retirement savings from their paycheck. Maryland doesn't have to blaze new trails in the area of offering workers easy ways to save. Other states have already taken up the issue and put programs in place.

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Clearly though, the rising number of retirement-age residents and the small number of those retirees who have saved enough is going to grow as an issue with each day that the state or federal government delays. Finding ways to encourage workers to save helps with their peace of mind as they near retirement age, and reducing the number of people who may have to rely more heavily on government help will decrease the chance of a fiscal crisis in future budget years.

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