Sizable majorities of the American people favor changing the basis of federal corporate taxation to reward companies that meet standards which are socially desirable and to punsih corporation that flout these standards.

This new concept of gearing the taxes business pays to its fulfillment of some of the larger objectives of society has begun to gain favor with a number of economists and members of the House Ways and Means Committee which writes tax legislation.

In a recent Harris Survey of 1,510 adults nationwide:

At the top of the list, an 82-9 percent majority favors a new tax law under which "companies that are bad polluters of the air and water would have to pay higher taxes, and those cleaning up air and water pollution would pay lower taxes." Despite arguments by industry and organized labor that it is desirable to slow down the pace of cleaning up the environment in order to keep more people employed and to save more energy, the public consistently rejects such compromises. The commitment of the public to cleaning up air and water pollution is firm and deep. And a 9-1 majority would like to see such a value judgment reflected in the corporate tax structure.

Moreover, a substantial 81-8 percent majority favors a new tax law under which "companies wasting energy are taxed more and those conserving energy are taxed less." Clearly, the public thinks that such tax incentives on energy would lead to less waste at the industry level.

By 77-11 percent, a majority would like to see a tax policy under which "companies not taking proper safety precautions for their employes are taxed more, and those making working conditions for their employes safer are taxed less." The public's concern for the problem of employe safety has risen sharply in recent years.