Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) told home-state business leaders this week that he believes Congress could pass a tax overhaul package this year along the lines proposed by President Reagan.
Dole's remarks, confirmed by a spokesman, marked a change in attitude for the Senate leader, who has been negative about prospects for quick passage of Reagan's tax plan. Last week, before the budget accord, he warned that "there will be no tax reform this year" without a deficit-reduction package.
With the budget more or less resolved, however, Dole said Monday in Kansas City that a tax bill could pass the Senate this year if the House produces by early fall a "responsible" package largely free of concessions to special interests.
"Given the fact that the budget has at least been put together, if the House can put together a decent bill and get it over here quick enough, there's a good chance we can do something about it," a spokesman for Dole said.
Dole's reasoning relies on plans by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) to act quickly on a tax bill after the August recess.
The House panel is scheduled to meet Sept. 5, take a bipartisan, off-the-record retreat on tax issues that weekend and begin work on the bill Sept. 16.
Rostenkowski has endorsed the general outlines of Reagan's plan, but has not embraced the specifics. In an Aug. 1 letter to the committee, he flagged as the central issues for debate: the deductibility of state and local taxes, business write-offs for investment, taxation of employer-paid fringe benefits, a minimum tax for corporations and individuals and the need to approve a package that will not increase the federal deficit.
The Ways and Means chairman also has said he wants to be more generous to middle-income families than is Reagan's plan.