Committees in both the House and Senate continued work yesterday on their tax cut bills, with the House until approving a new tax-exempt savings certificate designed to lure deposits back to savings and loan associations and the Senate Finance Committee rejecting a scaled-down tuition tax credit. a
The savings certificate approved by the House Ways and Means Committee is similar to one already endorsed by Senate Finance, virtually assuring it will survive in the bill Congress finally passes.
The House committee also approved a provision to reduce the so-called marriage penalty under which many working couples pay higher taxesfiling jointly than they would if single. The Finance Committee has also approved this in somewhat different form; the Ways and Means version would permit a deduction of 10 percent of the lower-paid spouse's income, up to a maximum deduction of $5,000 a year. The Senate plan phased in the 10 percent deduction over two years, to a $3,000 maximum.
On the savings certificate, the House bill, like its Senate counterpart, would free single individuals from taxes on up to $1,000 in interest, and couples on up to $2,000. The certificates would pay interest of 70 percent of the one-year Treasury bill rate.
But the Ways and Means Committee insisted that the certificates could be issued only by mortgage lending institutions, and not commercial banks that don't provide mortgages to the housing market.
The new savings certificate has been avidly sought by the housing and thrift industries, which have impressed the tax committees with their financial plight.
One dissenter was Rep. Sam M. Gibbons (D-Fla.), who headed the Democratic task force that drafted savings provisions for the new tax bill.
He called the certificates "a new way to subsidize high income taxpayers," warning colleagues that once the certificates take effect, Congress will be obliged to make them permanent at a continuing loss to the Treasury.
"This has to be one of the worst pieces of legislation" he had ever encountered, Gibbons said.
The House members also extended a helping hand to public utilities, some of which also are in financial distress. They approved a proposal to allow utility shareholders to receive stock instead of cash as dividends and permitting them to exclude up to $1,500 annually ($3,000 for a joint return) of such stock from taxable income.
The Ways and Means Committee joined the Finance Committee in opening up the individual retirement account (IRA) program to employes covered by company-sponsored retirement plans to make tax-deductible investments in their own IRA plans.
As the House commttee finished the key savings issues, leaving personal income tax cuts and estate and gift taxes to deal with, the Finance Committee became bogged down in special interest tax legislation like the tuition tax credit idea.
Finance Committee Chairman Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) pleaded throughout the day for restraint, noting that President Reagan had called the committees' republicans "to the woodshed" for a stern lecture on the need to keep tax cuts within the limits set by the adminsitration.
The results of the president's jawboning were mixed.
The Finance Committee did vote to restrict use of commodity tax straddles, a complex futures trading arrangement that has been increasingly used by wealthy investors to reduce taxes on unrelated income.
"Can somebody tell me what is the abuse we're trying to correct with this?" asked Sen. Spark M. Matsunaga (D-Hawaii).
"It's people making lots of money and paying not taxes," replied Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.).
And the committee also turned down the proposal of Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.) to provide a tax credit of up to $500 per family for tuition payments to non-public elementary and secondary schools.
Tuition tax credits had been a prominent part of the Republican campaign platform last year, which promised to "assist, not sabotage" enactment of such a tax.
But even the modified tuition plan, omitting credits for college tuition payments, would have cost the Treasury $2 billion in the 1984 fiscal year. John E. Chapoton, assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy, said the administration couldn't accept that cost, even if it still backs the principle. a
The vote against Moynihan was 10 to 3.
Long, the former Finance Committee chariman who stood with the administration on several votes, saw one of his pet projects expanded by the panel which agreed to increase tax credits for companies that establish employe stock ownership plans.
The committee approved tax breaks for fuel companies (other than refiners) who add storage capacity for gasoline and other petroleum products, for trucking companies whose Interstate Commerce Commission operating certificates have lost economic value because of the trucking deregulation approved by Congress last year and for hog and chicken farmers, whose pens (referred to as "single-purpose agricultural structures") were classified as equipment rather than buildings, making them eligible for faster tax depreciation.