Deficit-reduction bills passed by the House and Senate would cut taxes for many of the 70 million couples and individuals with incomes under $20,000 a year.
Although the aim of the bills is to raise taxes, the legislation would reduce the burden on that large class of taxpayers by boosting the earned-income credit for poor working families with children. The increase is designed to offset higher consumer taxes in both bills.The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the Senate bill would raise the tax burden on people in the $20,000-to-$50,000 income range by about 2.8 percent, three times as much as would the House bill.
People making between $50,000 and $75,000 would pay 1.9 percent more under the Senate bill and 1.4 percent more under the House bill. Those between $75,000 and $100,000 would see a 2.5 percent tax increase under the Senate measure and 1.5 percent in the House bill.
The Senate would boost the tax burden of people with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 by 3.5 percent - five times as much as would the House bill. The over-$200,000 group would pay 3.7 percent more in the Senate bill and 7.4 percent more under the House version.
Here is how the bills compare:
GASOLINE: The Senate would raise the 9-cent gasoline tax to 18 1/2 cents a gallon by 1992 and the 15-cent diesel tax to 24 1/2 cents. No increase in the House bill. Neither bill affects heating oil.
INDEXING: The House would forgo for one year the annual adjustments to income tax brackets and personal exemptions, which are designed to protect against inflation-caused tax increases known as bracket creep. As a result, all except the wealthiest people would pay higher taxes every year in the future. The Senate has no such provision.
ALCOHOL: The House would raise the $12.50-a-gallon tax on 100-proof liquor by $1, or 20 cents a fifth; double the beer tax to 32 cents a six-pack; and raise taxes on most wines, including, for example, table wine, which would go from 3 cents a 750-milliliter bottle to 25 cents. The Senate would raise liquor $1.20; double beer; and raise table wine to 21 cents.
TOBACCO: Both raise the 16-cent cigarette tax by 4 cents in 1991 and another 4 cents in 1993. Snuff, cigars and other tobacco would face 25 percent tax increases each year.
AIR TRAVEL: The 8 percent tax on airline tickets, scheduled to drop to 4 percent at year-end, would rise instead to 10 percent.
TELEPHONES: The Senate, but not the House, would make permanent the 3 percent tax on local and long-distance phone service, which is due to expire Dec. 31.
LUXURIES: Either would impose a 10 percent tax on the portion of the price of cars above $30,000; boats above $100,000; jewelry above $5,000; furs above $10,000 (House) or $5,000 (Senate), and private planes $100,000 (House) or $250,000 (Senate).
TAX RATES: The House bill would raise the top rate paid by the wealthiest people, now 28 percent, to 33 percent. It would impose a 10 percent surtax on those with taxable incomes over $1 million. The Senate bill would do neither.
ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS: The Senate would limit itemized deductions (except those for medical expense, casualty losses and investment interest) of people with adjusted gross income over $100,000. Only 95 percent of deductions would be allowed against the portion of income above $100,000.
CAPITAL GAINS: The House would allow a person to avoid tax on half of up to $200,000 of capital gains earned in a lifetime; the gains could come from most investments other than stocks or collectibles. A person with annual income under $100,000 could avoid tax on another $1,000 a year of gains, including those from the sale of stock. No capital gain would be taxed at a rate above 28 percent. The Senate bill has no capital gains provisions.
MEDICARE TAXES: The House would increase to $100,000 and the Senate to $89,000 the $51,300 maximum annual wage to which the 1.45 percent Medicare tax applies. The tax is withheld as part of the Social Security tax. The Senate would require all state and local government workers and their employers to pay the tax; the House would continue exempting workers hired before April 1, 1986.
MEDICARE PREMIUMS: House would raise the $28.60 monthly premium for Medicare Part B insurance to $46.20 by 1995. Senate: $47.
MEDICARE DEDUCTIBLE: House would raise to $100 through 1995 the present $75 deductible, which beneficiaries must pay before Medicare starts paying for doctor bills. Senate: $150.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Both would require all state and local government workers not covered by a public pension to pay Social Security taxes.
MEDICAL DEDUCTIONS: The Senate, but not the House, would deny a medical expense deduction for cosmetic surgery unless prescribed to repair damage from an accident or a birth defect.