Senate Finance Panel Passes Reagan's Tuition-Credit Bill

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Washington--The Senate Finance Committee last week approved the Reagan Administration's tuition tax-credit proposal after rejecting a variety of attempts to amend the bill.

The measure was approved by the same committee last September--by the same vote, 11 to 7--but it was not called up on the Senate floor. The House took no action on the proposal last year and the House Ways and Means Committee has no plans to take up the bill this year, according to a spokesman.

The bill would permit parents of students in private elementary and secondary schools to deduct a portion of the tuition costs from their federal income taxes.

Half of Tuition Costs

The proposal would permit tax credits of up to $100 in 1983, $200 in 1984, and $300 thereafter. The credits could equal but not exceed one-half of tuition costs.

The Senate panel rejected two amendments proposed by Sen. John Danforth, Republican of Missouri, to contain the costs of the program.

One provision would have allowed the tax-credit plan to take effect only if the Congress increased taxes or made other spending cuts to cover its costs; another would have cut off funding for the program if its cost exceeded $1 million per year.

The panel accepted a proposal by Senator John H. Chaffee, Republican of Rhode Island, to make the credit available in the form of a tax refund to families whose income is too small to pay taxes.

However, the members agreed to bring up the "refundability" amendment on the floor of the Senate as a means to ensure that the bill reaches the floor quickly.

The "refundability" provision, if it had been included directly in the bill, would have required the bill to be approved by the Appropriations Committee.

Senator Chafee and Senator David L. Boren, Democrat of Oklahoma, failed in their attempt to amend the bill to require private schools to admit handicapped, disadvantaged, and non-English-speaking students before they could be eligible for the bill's benefits.

Both Senators oppose the principle of tuition tax credits.

Senator Boren also failed in his attempt to amend it to prohibit tax credits to schools whose policies had a discriminatory effect. The bill--as proposed by the Administration, and as passed by the committee--would deny credits to schools that intentionally discriminate on the basis of race.

Lower Maximum Income

The committee did agree, however, to lower the maximum income that families could earn and still be eligible for a partial tax credit, from the Administration's figure of $60,000 down to the figure of $50,000 proposed by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

Families earning no more than $40,000 per year would be eligible for the full tax credit.

Spokesmen for the committee said they were uncertain when the bill would be considered on the Senate floor.

Vol. 02, Issue 36

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