Press And Tax Illiteracy

The Donald’s administration had to act on tax illiteracy as reported in the WSJ.  First, the administration said correctly:

When he was asked about tax incentives for retirement, Mr. Spicer said that the only deductions protected from repeal in a tax code overhaul were those for mortgage interest and charitable contributions.

But some tax illiterate reporters thought that this would endanger the tax status of 401-k plans.  So they needed to reiterate:

The administration clarified Mr. Spicer’s comments after the briefing, making clear no changes to 401(k)s and similar retirement accounts were proposed as part of Wednesday’s announcement. The breaks for 401(k)s aren’t technically deductions; contributions are excluded from the income-tax base. [Emphasis added]

Nope, they didn’t clarify Mr. Spicer’s comments.  They might have reiterated or explained them but there was nothing unclear about the first briefing.  The technically we bolded is simply an admission of error.  The sentence is more accurate without it.  We expect that the misunderstanding on the part of reporters is more likely to be foolishness rather than nastiness.

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