President Carter huddled with some of his finance and tax advisers for more than three hours yesterday, going over various options for changing the tax system he has described as a "disgrace."
Treasury Secretary W, Michael Blumenthal said afterward that no decisions had been made, and he refused to say specifically what options the dozen and a half participants discussed. A white House spokesman said the review is in its "initial" stages.
Blumenthal did say he thinks there's a "real possibility" that a comprehensive tax reform package might be sent to Congress before Carter's Sept. 30 deadline.
Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has said he doubts that Congress will have time to work on the tax reform this year.
Asked about a Carter campaign suggetions that mortage interest and property tax deductions be eliminated, Blumenthal said homeowners would not suffer under whatever the President winds up proposing.
Carter has been on both sides of that issue, saying in February, 1976, that he favored doing away with the mortage interest deduction, and then saying in October that he would continue it.
In addition Carter and Blumenthal, Vice President Mondale attended the meeting, along with Office of Management and Budget Director Bert Lance, domestic policy adviser Stuart Eizenstat and three members of his staff, Laurence Woodworth, assistant Tresyrt secretary for tax policy, Council of Economic Advisers Chariman Charles Schultze, presidential counsel Robert Lipshutz, presidential speechwriter James Fallows, and others.
Blumenthal called the meeting one in a series "to go over the whole tax code and the whole tax system." It was the only item on the President's public weekend schedule, except for Sunday School and church today.
The study, released by the Senate Budget Committee, said employers paid $426 per employee in Social Security taxes and unemployment compensation payroll taxes in 1970 and $1,021 in 1976.
That was an increase from 21 cents an hour per employee to 51 cents.
The study report estimated the figures would be $1,460 or 73 cents per hout, in 1980.
"Where business sets prices by a fixed percentage markup over costs," the report said," a rise in payroll taxes will rise the prices of goods and services.
"Since the rise in prices reduces consumer real income, total consumer demand will decline . . . and this will reduce production and employment."
The reports also contains staff recommendations, but those that have not been endorsed by the committee.
The staff said increases in payroll taxes are not the answer to avoiding deficits in the Social Security and unemployemnt compensation trust funds.
Instead, the staff suggested a system of tax credits of employers to lessen the economic drain caused by payroll taxes, and a temporary shift of money from general taxes to the social insurance trust funds.