Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Loopholes"

Kevin Williamson on what is and what isn't a loophole:

While “new revenue” has triumphed as a euphemism for “tax hikes,” “loophole” has triumphed as a dysphemism for “intentional tax policy.”

Our tax code is not really all that riddled with loopholes. Loopholes, properly understood, are unintentional ambiguities in a system that can be exploited to undercut the intent of the system’s designers. What we’re talking about in the tax code is not, for the most part, a collection of loopholes. The mortgage-interest deduction is not a loophole; it is the product of intentionally (and stupidly) constructed public policy, an attempt at social engineering through the tax code. Likewise, most of what Democrats dishonestly describe as special breaks for oil companies are in fact tax subsidies designed to encourage domestic manufacturing, and available to any firm that engages in anything that can be defined under the law as manufacturing. This is not an accident, either: The geniuses in Washington think that they can politick good manufacturing jobs into existence.

Jack Shafer explained why journalists shouldn't use the term "loophole" in 2007.