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I live in the Netherlands and before that I live in Israel/Palestine. I have a pretty good knowledge of the retirement(+severance) benefits system back home, and a mediocre knowledge of how it works here.

It's possible that I will be moving to the US (California) in a few months, accepting a forthcoming job offer. So far I've read the Wikipedia pages on 401(k) plans and IRA plans. But frankly, I don't have any context, I don't know the relevant legislation, don't know the customs, don't know what to expect... I'm just reading and thinking to myself "Wow, this sounds like a crappy benefits system; and the alternatives they offer you are all basically bad": No tax reduction, just deferment; money saved (which need to be invested for returns) instead of payment liability created; it being up to employers essentially to decide which plan you're offered (if at all?); no apparent protection of your savings against financial institution collapse (or is there?)

Now, I know the US is very cut-throat-Capitalist, so I suppose I should just assume that's what it's like; but maybe I have the wrong idea and I'm just missing some information?

So, the question is: How should I educate myself about the retirement and retirement-related benefits in the US (or specifically in California)?

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    Keep in mind that other than social security, retirement benefits are almost completely determined by your employer, which may be why you don't find any comprehensive information. People in the US are generally responsible for their own retirement savings over and above social security – D Stanley Jul 13 '17 at 20:21
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    That said, you'll need to be a bit more specific on what you seem to dislike about the system if you want any constructive answers. – D Stanley Jul 13 '17 at 20:22
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    There is SIPC to insure against a financial institution's collapse in the case of securities and FDIC protects deposited cash. I struggle to see how having control over your own assets via tax preferred savings in addition to a public pension is "cut-throat-capitalist" and/or worse than whatever Israel, Palestine or the Netherlands has in place. – quid Jul 13 '17 at 21:12
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    Re: "No tax reduction, just deferment" It's not a deferment of the tax, but a deferment of the taxable event of receiving the income. For many Americans (for tax purposes), this is an effective tax reduction, as they have a lower marginal tax rate at the time they withdraw from a 401(k) as compared to the years during which they contribute to the 401(k). – user4556274 Jul 13 '17 at 21:36
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    Your question was voted as "too broad." I suggest you look at the site and especially the questions tagged 401(k). It will take quite a few hours. If you have any question not addressed already, please ask as a separate question. – JoeTaxpayer Jul 13 '17 at 23:20

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