- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 30, 2017

Senate Republicans’ tax bill already includes a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate — and a few GOP senators want to take things a step further by refunding some of the mandate-associated penalties people have already paid.

Sen. Steve Daines, Montana Republican, has offered an amendment to the bill that would direct the Treasury secretary to set up a refund program for mandate-associated penalties people paid in tax years 2014 and 2015.

He was joined in the effort by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican.

Mr. Daines said his amendment would return $4.7 billion over 10 years “to the pockets of Americans who were fined because of Obamacare.”

“The individual mandate is a tax on the poor,” Mr. Daines said in a statement to The Washington Times. “Individuals making $25,000 to $50,000 paid the highest share of the tax. American families should not be fined for not being able to afford insurance because of Obamacare.”

Mr. Daines’ office estimated that the federal government collected more than $5 billion in fines from people who didn’t buy health insurance in 2014 and 2015.

“The poverty tax must be paid back to the hardworking folks who paid them,” Mr. Daines said when he introduced similar legislation in September.

The law currently says that most Americans must carry health insurance or pay a fine. For 2017, the fine is either $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of qualified household income.

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