WASHINGTON - It's not quite the fresh start the thrift industry wanted. Still, the Thrift Charter Conversion Tax Act of 1995, unveiled last week by Chairman Bill Archer of the House Ways and Means Committee, would free thrifts from paying back taxes on most, if not all, of the bad-debt reserves they have accumulated over the past 42 years.

The proposal, scheduled to be the subject of a Ways and Means Committee hearing on Thursday, assumes that Congress' broader plan to rescue the undercapitalized Savings Association Insurance Fund will force federal savings banks and savings and loans to convert to commercial bank charters.

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