News & Politics

Correction of the Year? New York Times' Error Completely Reverses Conclusion

The New York Times really, really wants to prove the Republican tax plan is a bad idea. They tried to find people who were unhappy with it, but the most they could get was that people were less than ecstatic over receiving $30-$40. They weren’t unhappy, mind you, just not jumping up and down over it.

If that wasn’t enough, though, the same publication just had to correct a story featuring a fictional couple that was supposedly getting a hike in their taxes. The story from late February featured “Samuel and Felicity Taxpayer,” a pretend couple the Times invented. They made $183,911 a year with Samuel as a self-employed engineering consultant, and with Felicity is as an employee of a design company of some sort.

Now, if the Times invented them, it’s not hard to imagine they were intentionally designed to highlight any and all flaws in the tax deal. Tax software company TurboTax partnered with the paper on the story and found that the imaginary couple would have to pay an extra $3,896 in taxes under the GOP tax plan.

Except, well … they wouldn’t.

Unversity of Chicago law professor Daniel Hemel realized the article got a few things wrong:

As the Washington Free Beacon notes, then the signal got boosted. “Hemel’s tweets were highlighted by the Wall Street Journal‘s James Freeman, who wrote, ‘This must be some package of tax cuts, if even fictional characters invented by the New York Times are getting one!'”

Eventually, the Times issued a correction, noting, “As a result of that deduction, the amount they would likely owe on taxes would decline by $43, not rise by $3,896.”


For all the hate at the Times over the tax plan, the only legitimate complaint they seem to have been able to muster is that it could have been bigger. Frankly, I suspect a lot of people on the right would agree with that complaint.

However, I don’t think that’s the complaint the Times wanted to make in the least.