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Nevada senators on opposite sides of federal tax bill

Republicans tweaked a $1.4 trillion tax-cut package to win over holdout GOP senators Friday and passed the first sweeping reform of the nation’s tax code in 30 years with a 51-49 Senate vote.

The Senate bill also eliminates the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which requires people to purchase health care plans or face an IRS penalty.

U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, took opposite positions.

“One of the most important parts of our tax plan is repealing Obamacare’s Individual Mandate,” U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, said on his Facebook page. “This is a major victory across the board. After all, it was working families who were paying the price.”

“The proof is in the numbers: Of those who paid the individual mandate penalty, 42 percent were families making less than $25,000 a year—and 82 percent made less than $50,000 a year,” Heller said.

“The IRS should have never been involved with health care in the first place,” he also said.

Cortez Masto said the cost of the “GOP tax scam” would be “too high for the 13 million Americans” who will become uninsured if they lose life-saving health coverage.

A CBO analysis of the provision, however, said the Senate bill would increase premiums purchased on public exchanges by 10 percent and leave 13 million more Americans without insurance by 2027.

Repeal of the ACA individual mandate is not included in a version of the bill passed by the House on Nov. 16.

That bill, which passed along party lines, would eliminate federal deductions for medical expenses and student loan interest and cap the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000, down from $1 million currently.

Differences in the two bills would be ironed out in a House-Senate conference committee.

Small-business opposition includes Pahrump man

The Main Street Alliance, a national group that represents small businesses, including 10 from Nevada, opposed the bill because it does not improve communities through affordable health care, well-funded schools and maintained roads.

Small business owners, like Dee Holden in Las Vegas and retired broker Gil Vogel of Liberty Realty in Pahrump, signed a letter sent to the House and Senate that said the tax-cut plans would “ultimately slash programs that are vital for small business owners like me.”

But the National Federation of Independent Business, an association representing small businesses, reversed its initial opposition to the Senate bill after GOP lawmakers improved cuts for mom-and-pop shops.

For individuals, the bill would double the standard deduction on federal forms to $12,000 and $24,000 for couples.

Heller was instrumental in increasing the child tax credit, which he said would help Nevada families living “paycheck to paycheck.”

This story was compiled from Las Vegas Review-Journal and Pahrump Valley Times reports.

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