The House voted yesterday to postpone for a second time the tougher tax treatment of Americans living abroad that Congress enacted last fall - a move designed to buy time for officials to work out a compromise on the issue.
The action came in passage of a routine tax bill that also would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from expanding the number of employee fringe benefits that are taxable as regular income.
The vote in the House was an overwhelming 411 to 5. The tax measure now goes to the Senate, where it is scheduled to be taken up on Friday by the Senate Finance Committee.
The proposal affecting Americans abroad would put off the effective date of last year's toughening action until next January 1. Congress had intended the changes to apply to 1976 income, but postponed that last spring to 1977.
The Senate Finance Committee has approved a similar second year's delay, linked to a plan by Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff (DConn.) that would replace the 1976 provision with a new, somewhat milder compromise.
However, most observers believe the Ribicoff provision ultimately will be scrapped in favor of a simple postponement of the 1976 changes to January, 1978. The Ribicoff proposal is opposed by some key lobbying groups.
The overseas Americans issue has turned into a controversy as U.S. firms have realized it is cutting into recruitment for overseas posts. Construction companies have complained many U.S. workers are going home.
At the same time, however, a new Treasury analysis shows the cost of the present tax breaks for Americans living abroad is substantially greater than originally estimated - bolstering the case for some tightening.
The new estimates show that toughening the pre-1976 provisions would bring in $228 million in added revenues, rather than $40 million, as projected originally. The Ribicoff bill would cut that gain to $145.