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Tax square on Monopoly board. (Credit: Philip Taylor PT via Flickr)

After falsely reporting on a UK tax, The Times of London must publish a correction on its front page, print regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation ruled.

The April 24 Times story, “Labour’s  £1,000 tax on families” claimed “Ed Miliband would saddle every working family with extra taxes equivalent to more than £1,000.”

But, the proposed tax was “primarily” for “companies and the richest individuals,” IPSO reported. “Many families would not be materially affected by the taxes at all.”

The Times admitted its error, explaining it was a “regrettable” misunderstanding of the proposal. “Staff had been reminded by  senior editor of the dangers of misinterpreting statistics,” IPSO reported the Times said.

The Times corrected its story with a May 2 correction in its correction column, but that wasn’t enough for IPSO.

The correction stated:

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“We said that ‘Ed Miliband would saddle every working family with extra taxes equivalent to more than £1,000’ (Labour’s £1,000 tax on families, April 24). This was inaccurate. The calculation assumes that the extra taxes are shared equally among what the Office of National Statistics defines as ‘working households’ (where all those over the age of 16 are working). In fact, as was explained elsewhere in our article, ‘the bulk of Labour’s tax rises will come from a raid on the richest pension pots, a ‘mansion tax’ on properties worth more than £2 million, the re-introduction of the 50p rate and additional levies on banks and tobacco firms’. Some of these taxes and levies will only apply to companies, and the others will affect a small minority of families, not ‘every working family’, as we reported.”

However, IPSO got a complaint over the lack of “prominence” of the correction, which was buried inside the newspaper, not on the front page where the original article appeared.

IPSO said normally it would be prominent enough for the newspaper to post the correction in a designated corrections column on the inside of the newspaper but “this was an exceptional case because of the nature of the inaccuracy and the timing: in the run-up to an election.”

IPSO required the Times to publish “a stand-alone correction ” on its website and homepage. The newspaper also has to publish the correction again in the print edition in its corrections column and include a “reference to the corrections on the front page.”

Hat Tip: Press Gazette

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Tax Error Needs Front-page Correction, UK Regulator Rules

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