The Treasury Department yesterday issued rules for implementing its tax reform proposal that spelled out the new tax treatment for items ranging from property depreciation to housing allowances for clergy and military personnel.
Many businesses as well as individual taxpayers have waited since last week for the 408-page document before calculating whether they will be a winner or loser if the Treasury plan is put into effect.
The Treasury has said that 80 percent of individual taxpayers would have no increase in taxes, and that many businesses would have little change in their tax payments. However, the new proposal is designed to shift the burden of taxation from individuals to corporations, whose contributions to federal revenue have declined over the years.
The Treasury seeks to include more income into the tax base by eliminating or limiting deductions and exemptions while lowering marginal rates.
According to the specifics released yesterday, the Treasury proposal would end deductions for business seminars aboard cruise ships and tickets to the National Symphony and to Redskins games. It also would eliminate tax-free housing allowances for the military and ministers living in parsonages and tax other benefits the military have enjoyed.
Under the guidelines for the proposal issued yesterday, many of the benefits afforded the military will be abolished to treat them as ordinary civilians. The Treasury said that it expected Congress to increase military pay and allowances to offset the repeal of its tax-free benefits.
The tax-free cash allowance for living quarters and subsistence given to military personnel and members of other uniformed services would be repealed. Exempted would be meals provided "at the convenience of the employer," meaning in emergencies or if personnel are on call.
The Treasury would also repeal the current complete forgiveness of income tax for military and civilians who die as a result of wounds or injury in a terroristic or military attack outside the United States.
They would also be taxed on compensation while serving in a combat zone or while hospitalized for combat-related injuries. However, the Treasury would allow disability income to be eligible for the new credit for the elderly, blind and disabled.
The items affecting the military would become effective Jan. 1, 1987.
The Treasury proposal also would repeal the tax-free parsonage allowances for about 140,000 ministers and others who receive part of their compensation in housing. They would be required to include in their gross income any cash housing allowance they receive.
In addition, the fair market rental value of housing provided to ministers and others would be taxed unless they are required to live near their job by their employer. This proposal would be effective beginning Jan. 1, 1987.
"The average minister's compensation is low compared to other professions, but not compared to taxpayers in general," the Treasury study said.
In the expense account area, the Treasury proposal would "completely eliminate deductions for entertainment expenses such as tickets to professional sporting events, tickets to the theater, the costs of fishing trips and country club dues." About one-third of all baseball tickets and more than one-half of all hockey tickets are purchased by businesses, Treasury said.
Tickets valued at less than $25 bought by businesses as gifts to employes would still be deductible.
Deductions for business meals would be limited per person to $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch and $25 for dinner, including taxes and tips. The business expense changes would become effective on Jan. 1, 1986. However, a deduction would be allowed for half of the cost of business meals over the meal limit if they occurred in the taxable years beginning on or before Jan. 1, 1987.
When traveling away from home for less than 30 days, the taxpayer would be limited to 200 percent of the maximum federal daily reimbursement rate for that city for meals, hotels and incidental travel costs.
For example, the Treasury said the deduction for a person on business in Baltimore for 30 days or less would be limited to $150 a day.
Deductions for meals and lodging for people away from home on business for more than 30 days in one city would be limited to 150 percent of the federal per diem rate for that city, and no deductions would be allowed for incidental travel expenses such as laundry and taxi fares, Treasury said.
The Treasury would allow no deductions for travel assignments in which a person is away from home for more than one year in one city.
Travel expenses that are not reimbursed by employers could be deducted if together with other miscellaneous itemized deductions they are greater than one percent of the employe's adjusted gross income. As part of tax simplification, employe business expenses that under current law are itemized would be consolidated into one category together with the deduction for state and local taxes other than income taxes.
These expenses together would have to exceed one percent of the employe's adjusted gross income to be deducted. A taxpayer would not have to itemize to receive the deduction. The travel allowances would begin Jan. 1, 1986.
In the fringe benefit area, the Treasury proposal would modify the provision allowing taxpayers to receive tax-free health plan benefits by requiring them to pay taxes on those benefits exceeding $70 a month for individuals and $175 a month for family coverage. These monthly dollar limits would be adjusted each year using the Consumer Price Index, Treasury said.
"As a result, the proposal would help contain escalating medical costs by spurring interest in health maintenance organizations, private cost review programs, co-payments and other market-oriented cost containment approaches," Treasury said.
The health plan exclusion would become effective generally for contributions made affecting payroll periods beginning Jan. 1, 1987.
Other fringe benefits that now are excluded but which would be subject to tax include:
* Employer-provided group term life insurance. This would become effective if the insurance is provided on or after Jan. 1, 1987.
* Employer-provided care of a dependent, such as those under the age of 15, or of a dependent or spouse who is physically or mentally incapable of caring for himself, effective Jan. 1, 1986.
* Employer-provided cafeteria plans, also effective Jan. 1, 1986.
Exclusions for the above would continue, however, if they are covered under a binding contract entered into before the legislation is introduced. It will be grandfathered until the contract expires or Jan. 1, 1989, whichever comes first.