In a sharp blow to President Reagan's proposed tax overhaul, the 13 Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday joined in a statement objecting to numerous provisions of the Reagan plan.
The positions they laid out stand in total or partial opposition to such Reagan proposals as eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, doing away with the "marriage penalty" deduction for two-income couples and raising taxes on companies that have made heavy use of tax breaks for investment in recent years.
Although it endorsed such provisions as the reduction of income tax rates, the statement as a whole struck a discouraging note for the Reagan plan. Administration officials have hoped the president's power of persuasion would galvanize skeptical committee Republicans. The 23 Democrats on the panel are generally considered to be more amenable to overhauling the tax code than the GOP members.
The statement was released as the committee ended two months of hearings on the Reagan plan. It was intended in part, sources said, to ensure that Republicans on the Ways and Means panel didn't get left out of the tax-writing process as they have in the past.
Meanwhile, a Treasury Department report released yesterday may fuel the drive for tax revision. It said that more than 30,000 taxpayers with incomes greater than $250,000 paid little or no income tax in 1983, and more than 3,000 with incomes of $1 million or more paid virtually no tax. Most taxpayers used such shelters as partnership losses to drive down their tax bills.
The figures were much larger than previous studies have shown. The Treasury used a broader definition of income -- one more similar to what ordinary Americans think of as income -- than the narrow definition used by the Internal Revenue Service in calculating how many well-off taxpayers avoid paying taxes.
The study was released at the request of Rep. J.J. (Jake) Pickle (D-Tex.), who said, "If anybody had any doubt about the unfairness of our present tax code, these figures should convince them."
He called the report "clear evidence that we need to take a good hard look at the tax provisions that allow this to occur and that any tax-reform bill adopted by Congress must contain a strong and effective minimum tax provison that would require all wealthy taxpayers to pay a certain amount of tax."
The report found that 29,800 taxpayers with total income of $250,000 or more -- accounting for 11 percent of all taxpayers with that income -- paid less than 5 percent of their income in taxes. Almost 60,000 of the taxpayers in that income bracket paid less than 10 percent of their income in taxes.
Eleven percent of millionaire taxpayers, or 3,170 individuals or couples, paid less than 5 percent of their income in taxes. Nearly 1,500 taxpayers with income over $1 million paid less in taxes than the average amount paid by a family of four with income of $45,000: $6,272.
All these taxpayers were able to cut their tax bills principally by using business losses, especially from partnerships. The report said that those with incomes of $250,000 and greater who paid less than 5 percent used business losses to reduce their income by two-thirds, on average. About 1,900 taxpayers offset their taxable income completely through the use of partnership losses.
Other tools for reducing taxes included low effective rates on capital gains, the profits on the sale of an asset. Such "traditional" deductions as the ones for mortgage interest, state and local taxes and charitable contributions "were much less important in reducing taxes," the report said.
The Ways and Means Republicans, while not exactly opposing Reagan's proposal to wipe out the deduction for state and local taxes, called it "a negotiable item."
Administration officials have held out against compromising on the issue because the change would bring in $37 billion per year, money that is badly needed to offset the cost to the Treasury of reducing tax rates.
The GOP members said that provisions of the proposal that raise little revenue should be put aside and considered later, and they called for "generous transition rules" to make sure that business decisions and economic activity are not harmed by implementation of a new tax law.
They quibbled with the president slightly on rate reduction. Reagan has said any tax overhaul must cut the top personal tax rate to at least 35 percent from the current 50 percent.
The Republicans said that an "arbitrary target" for rates should not be set and that the amount of reduction should be based on the "recognition that certain tax incentives are socially necessary."
A Treasury Department spokesman said the administration "will take into consideration the concerns of the Ways and Means Committee and work with them to assure that there is a tax reform proposal."