The New York Times issued an embarrassing correction after a report that attacked President Donald Trump’s recently passed tax plan got the numbers about as wrong as could be.
The lengthy Feb. 23 feature, headlined, “Get to Know the New Tax Code While Filling Out This Year's 1040,” sought to detail how Trump’s tax plan would hurt middle-class families. A hypothetical couple -- christened Sam and Felicity Taxpayer -- would see their tax bill rise by nearly $4,000, according to the story.
Then came the correction saying the family would actually see taxes go down.
The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman mocked the Times piece before the Old Gray Lady issued the correction.
“Even perennial tax-increase advocate Warren Buffett is now acknowledging the economic benefit of the Trump tax cuts, but The New York Times newsroom still won’t concede the point,” Freeman wrote on Feb. 27. “Will criticism from a liberal law professor persuade The Times to reconsider?”
Well, The Times did reconsider -- but it may still not be 100 percent accurate.
“An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the probable effect of the new tax law on a hypothetical couple’s 2018 tax bill. The TurboTax ‘What-If Worksheet’ that generated the projection for their 2018 taxes failed to indicate that the couple would probably be entitled to claim a sizable deduction for income earned from consulting. As a result of that deduction, the amount they would likely owe on taxes would decline by $43, not rise by $3,896,” the correction states.
The accounting error in The Times’ original piece is quite significant for the family, which reported a combined income of $183,911. Freeman wrote a followup piece, noting that “a liberal law professor says The Times still doesn’t have the story quite right.”
Freeman pointed to University of Chicago tax law professor Daniel Hemel, who said Times editors still don’t understand Trump’s tax cuts.
“Still don’t see why Samuel & Felicity aren’t claiming nonrefundable dependent credits of $500 for their children Luke & Heidi and their parent Sydney, for additional tax savings of $1,500 under the new law,” Hemel recently tweeted.
In addition to Hemel’s analysis, a spokesperson for TurboTax’s parent company issued a statement to The Journal explaining that The Times used a program for the misleading feature that was not yet updated with the latest tax laws.
As much of the mainstream media looks for reasons to attack the president on a regular basis, the misleading feature on taxes peovides some evidence that many Americans don’t understand the benefits of tax reform or don't acknowledge positives because of political reasons.
“The search continues for Americans who will not benefit from the
Trump tax cuts on individual and corporate income,” Freeman wrote.
The New York Times did not immediately respond when asked if it would issue another correction based on Hemel’s analysis.