WASHINGTON - The Senate Finance Committee is not likely to draft its version of the urban aid tax package until the end of July, a delay that makes some tax aides doubt Congress will complete action on that bill and on extensions of two popular bond programs before the fall.
Originally, Committee Chairman Lloyd Bentsen, D-Tex., said the panel would meet next week, immediately after returning from the Senate recess that began July 3. But a committee spokesman said yesterday that Sen. Bentsen will need more time to draft his urban aid proposal and will probably not bring the panel together until the week of July 27.
Losing week may be critical, because Congress is scheduled to adjourn for four weeks on Aug. 13, tax aides said. That would leave less than three weeks for the full Senate to act and for the bill to be reconciled with urban aid legislation passed by the House on July 3.
The House bill includes extensions of tax provisions that expired June 30 such as the tax exemptions for mortgage revenue bonds and small-issue industrial development bonds, and the low-income housing tax credit.
The bill also contains permanent extensions for those three tax breaks and an enterprise zone proposal that would ease current law governing tax-exempt qualified re-development bonds so they could be used in the zones.
In addition, the House bill includes a variety of tax simplification proposals that would ease the arbitrage rebate requirement and other tax law bond curbs. On the negative side for the municipal market, the measure includes a provision that would require securities firms to report for tax purposes the market value of municipal bonds and other securities they hold in their inventories.
The Senate Finance Committee has already approved a separate bill that would renew all the expired provisions and keep them alive through Dec. 31, 1993. But aides said that measure will probably be combined with the finance panel's urban aid bill, so the full Senate would vote on one package.
Sen. Bentsen has offered few details on what he would include in an urban aid measure. Both the Bush administration and the house have endorsed a variety of tax incentives, including changes in bond restrictions, that would entice businesses into blighted areas designated as "enterprise zones."
Sen. Bentsen, meanwhile, has said his proposal would focus more on aiding people who live in the zones, but he has not specified how he would do so. Lobbyists have said they expect Sen. Bentsen to include provisions that would ease tax curbs on municipal bonds, though it is not clear what form those provisions would take.