The Senate Finance Committee yesterday voted a create a new kind of tax-exempt savings certificate intended to shore up the threatened savings and loan industry.
The committee added to the pending tax-cut bill a provision under which single taxpayers would be allowed up to $1,000 and married couples up to $2,000 in tax-free interest from the certificates, which could be issued by banks, credit unions and savings and loan institutions during a one-year period ending sept. 30, 1982.
To help offset the cost, the committee voted to repeal an exclusion under which single taxpayers this year can have up to $200 in dividend and interest income tax free, and couples up to $400. Beginning next year, this would be cut to $100 for individuals and $200 for couples, and would apply to dividend income only, not interest.
Pressing to complete work on the tax bill, the committee also voted to reduce the maximum tax rate on all investment income from 70 to 50 percent, as congressional Democrats and President Reagan have both proposed, and to eliminate taxes on 97.7 percent of all estates in this country.
All three of provisions approved yesterday by the Republican-controlled committee would, in the name of stimulating investment, mainly help taxpayers in the upper-income brackets.
The tax votes came as the full Senate last night trip from its version of the huge spending-cut bill a series of non-budgetary provisions committees had inserted. [Details on Page A5].
Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which resumes work on the bill tommorrow, said his committee would complete its version by the "second or third week in July."
Speaking to a meeting here of American Stock Exchange officials and brokers, Rostenkowski rejected administration charges that House Democrats are dragging their feet on the tax bill.
"I am going to move my committee as prudently and as fast as possible," he declared, noting that the administration's bill was still being changed less than two weeks ago.
Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Donald T. Reagan told the same group that if passage of the tax bill were delayed until Oct. 1, as Rostenkowski suggested Sunday that it might be, "it would be a disgrace."
Reagan said the Ways and Means Committee "seems to be working about a three-hour day [and] a three-day week," and that if the Democrats were not deliberately stalling on the bill they "certaintly are achieving that end by not working faster and longer hours."
In the Senate committee, Chairman Robert J. Dole (R.-Kan.) pushed through a series of party-line votes on the new savings certificates, hoping to complete work on his version of the tax bill this week.
The changes in estate and gift taxes were approved unanimously, but only after several Democratic members suggested the Republicans were being far too generous.
"I wonder if we could have some discussion about why we are doing this?" asked Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.).
"People are tired of giving their estates to the government," responded Sen. Steven D. Symms (R-Idaho).
Dole said the estate and gift tax changes were promised by Reagan during the 1980 campaign, and the Senate Republicans are "hard to restrain" on this issue.
When fully effective, after a five-year phase-in period, the proposed new estate-tax credit would eliminate taxes on gifts or bequests of up to $600,000. There would be no tax on estates left to a surviving spouse.
Treasury officials estimated that the changes would end taxes on all but the largest 6,700 estates a year, instead of the 57,000 under current law.
Finance Committee Democrats tried unsuccessfully to target the benefits of the new savings certificates directly at savings and loan institutuions and the depressed housing industry.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) said that permitting banks to share in the proposed program would divert savings from the thift institutions, which depend on a steady turnover in home mortgages to remain strong financially. Several hundred of them are facing potential bankruptcy, committee members warned.
But Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) said that Bentsen's proposal would cost too much, endangering administration hopes for a balanced budget in the 1984 fiscal year.
The administration passed word to Congress that it was prepared to accept inclusion of the new savings certificate in the tax bill but only if it were accompanied by reduction of the current interest and dividend exclusion. But officials stressed the administration was not enthusiatic about the certificate idea, which the savings and loan industry has actively sought.
Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said he had "seen no convincing evidence one way or the other" that the new certificate would lead to any increase in personal saving.
At the White House, deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said Rostenkowski's end-of-September prediction for final passage was "contrary to what the [House] leadership has told the president from day one.
"The House and Senate set a schedule that promised the president and the American people that the president would have a tax bill on his dest by Aug. 1," Speakes declared. "We think they have made a promise, and we think if Congress delays past the five-week August recess that it will delay passage so far down the road this year that it will have minimal effect for the American people."