While claiming to make no tax increases to reduce the budget, President Reagan last night outlined a set of business tax changes designed to raise a total of $24 billion in fiscal 1983 and 1984.
Along with a reiterated call for the closing of a limited number of tax loopholes, the administration will propose a minimum corporate tax designed to raise $2.5 billion in 1983 and $4.5 billion in 1984, according to sources.
In addition, the administration is known to be on the verge of calling for mandated withholding of 5 percent of all interest and dividend income in an effort to bring into the Treasury in excess of $1 billion annually that escapes taxation. Details of the withholding plans are expected to be announced today.
"I will seek no tax increases this year, and I have no intention of retreating from our basic program of tax relief," the president said. He described the closing of the tax loopholes as "eliminating ineffective subsidies for business" and the expanded corporate minimum tax as a proposal to "strengthen the law which requires all large corporations to pay a minimum tax."
Left off the list, although it was not clear that it had been dropped, was an administration suggestion made last September to lower the level of income under which unemployed persons do not have to pay taxes on unemployment benefits and salary. These levels are currently $20,000 for a single person and $25,000 for a couple filing jointly.
The Treasury provided no details of the tax proposals, but they included the following:
A corporate minimum tax. Under this proposal, corporations, when calculating the tax liability, would be required to use both normal methods and a second system. Under the second system, the corporation would add back to its adjusted gross income certain tax preferences and then take specified exemptions. The corporation would then be required to pay under whichever method set a higher figure.
The key issue, which is as yet unresolved, is what tax preferences would be required to be added back in. Sources said these would include the benefits of corporate tax sales under the controversial leasing provisions of the 1981 tax bill, but would not include the benefits of the highly accelerated depreciation schedule. The Senate Finance Committee is considering an expansion of the minimum tax that would apply to wealthy individuals who currently avoid taxation as well as corporations.
* Restrictions on the "completed contract" rules under which a contractor does not owe taxes until work on the project is completed. The precise details of how this reform is to be achieved, along with the issue of retroactivity, will determine who the major loosers would be. The most likely are major weapons and aerospace contractors if, as some expect, some form of unit accounting for tax purposed is required.
* Restrictions on industrial development bonds. Sure to be opposed by industry and state and local governments, the most likely reform would be to make beneficiaries of the bonds choose between the tax benefits to the bond or the new depreciation schedule in the 1981 tax bill, instead of taking both in what tax lawyers call "double dipping."
* An end to a tax loophole under which life insurance companies, particularly mutual firms, lessen their tax burden by "co-insuring" clients with subsidiaries or other companies. The life insurance industry already plans to fight this with a counter proposal completely revising the tax code as it affects the industry.
* Elimination of all business energy tax credits.