Top GOP senator presses for answers on ObamaCare tax error

Top GOP senator presses for answers on ObamaCare tax error

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah) is pressing the Obama administration for answers about why 800,000 people who signed up for ObamaCare received incorrect tax information. 

"These mistakes will impose an unnecessary burden on affected taxpayers," Hatch wrote Monday in a letter to the heads of the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "[T]his process will delay the processing of returns for 800,000 taxpayers, postpone expected tax refunds, and further add to what [IRS] Commissioner [John] Koskinen has called a 'miserable' tax filing season."

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The error, announced Friday, was a setback for the Obama administration, and Republicans have jumped on it amid existing concerns that the health law will complicate tax season.   

The problem stems from an error in a form sent to taxpayers on ObamaCare plans. The 2015 cost of a "benchmark" health plan was listed as part of a formula on some forms instead of the correct 2014 cost. That led to people receiving either too much or too little of a tax credit.  

"Because of an intermittent defect in the code that was used to create these forms, the premiums listed were for 2015," a federal health official said Monday. 

Hatch is asking how this error happened, and the names of contractors and agencies involved in the process. He also asks for emails related to the timing of the announcement, which came after the sign-up period for ObamaCare had already ended.

"Why did you decide to wait until the close of open enrollment to announce this mistake?" he asked.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee, similarly called for answers in a letter on Friday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell will be pressed on the issue at hearings this week.

"ObamaCare has consistently lived up to the warnings Republicans have raised: taxes, canceled plans, disruptions, higher costs, etc. Today’s double news dump is just another in a long line of ObamaCare consequences," Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAre Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report MORE (R-Ky.) said on Friday. 

The administration is contacting those affected and asking them to delay filing their taxes until a corrected form is sent early next month. About 50,000 people have already filed and the administration says it is working with them on a fix.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday sought to downplay the 800,000 number. "It's a small percentage of overall tax filers," he said. "You're talking about less than 1 percent of people who file taxes."

Sarah Ferris contributed.