The Treasury Department has sent Senate tax writers a broad list of revenue-raising options, including some the House rejected, to pay for tax benefits that some senators and President Reagan want to restore to the House tax-revision bill.
Meanwhile, Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) has developed his own laundry list of possible measures to keep his draft tax bill "revenue-neutral," including revenue from extension of the 16 cent-per-pack cigarette tax, which other senators had proposed applying to the federal deficit. Legislation to prevent the tax from dropping to 8 cents per pack expires in March.
Packwood plans to finish his first round of meetings with members of his committee, probably next week, before he begins drafting a tax proposal in an effort to gain the support of a majority of the panel's 22 members, aides said yesterday.
He needs to raise $100 billion to $130 billion in additional federal revenue over five years to pay for the changes favored by Reagan and many senators on the panel. Among them are a top individual tax rate of 35 percent, rather than the 38 percent in the House bill, and more generous writeoffs for business investment in equipment, machinery and buildings.
The Treasury list, described by department officials and committee aides as a collection of options rather than policy proposals, includes some powerful revenue-raisers.
Limiting interest deductions for individuals to interest paid on mortgages for no more than two homes and educational loans, plus $1,000, for example, would raise almost $40 billion over five years relative to the House bill. Limiting corporate interest deductions to 90 percent of interest paid would raise $53 billion. Although such a move is under serious consideration by the Finance Commitee staff, it would be likely to meet with strong business opposition.
A $4 per barrel tax on imported oil would bring in $42.4 billion over five years, while an across-the board energy tax of 6 percent would raise $102.2 billion and a 21-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline would raise $92 billion.
Reagan has said publicly he would consider a tax on imported oil if it were imposed to help the tax-overhaul bill bring in the same amount of revenue as the current system, rather than to increase overall taxes. But officials in recent days have indicated that opposition within the administration to such a fee has not disappeared.
One senior administration official said that Reagan promised to keep the door open to an oil import fee before being briefed on the economic advantages of falling oil prices. This official said there are other ways to bring in the needed tax revenue and mentioned a proposal by the Finance Committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.), to limit the deduction individuals may take for state and local taxes.
Rather than ending the deduction for sales and personal-property taxes, as Packwood has suggested, Long has expressed interest in setting a percentage limit on the deduction for all kinds of state and local taxes. That would be less harmful to Louisiana, which relies heavily on sales taxes, than would Packwood's proposal.
The documents indicate that permitting taxpayers to deduct those taxes only to the extent that they exceed 1 percent of adusted gross income would raise $10 billion. A broader limitation on all deductions, restricting them to 6.5 percent of adjusted gross income or less, would raise $28.9 billion. A stiffer limitation applying only to wealthy taxpayers would raise $30 billion.
An across-the-board limit on deductions was included in an alternative tax bill proposed last fall by House Republicans, but it was resoundingly defeated on the floor before the Democratic legislation was adopted.