FedEx CEO Invites NYT Publisher to Debate After the Paper Publishes Story on Federal Taxes

Flickr/Erik Leenaars

After The New York Times published a story on Sunday that stated FedEx did not pay any federal taxes in 2018, the company’s CEO Frederick Smith responded in a statement challenging the assertion and inviting the Times’ publisher and business section editor to a public tax policy debate.

In a story titled “How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0,” the Times reported that in the fiscal year of 2017, the company owed $1.5 billion in taxes, but after President Donald Trump signed his tax cuts into law, the company had a zero percent tax rate.

The story pointed out that Smith was a proponent of the 2017 tax cuts, adding that he vowed there would be a “renaissance of capital investment,” if Congress passed a new round of tax cuts.

However, the Times’ charges that Smith’s company not only paid no federal taxes in 2018, it also failed to participate in the “renaissance” of investment. 

On Sunday, Smith responded to the story in a statement, “The New York Times published a distorted and factually incorrect story on the front page of the Sunday, November 17 edition concerning FedEx and our billions of dollars of tax payments and billions of dollars of investments in the U.S. economy.”

Smith then took aim at the taxes the Times paid in 2017 and 2018, “unlike FedEx, the New York Times paid zero federal income tax in 2017 on earnings of $111 million, and only $30 million in 2018 – 18% of their pretax book income,” and claimed that the paper had cut its capital investments in 2018.

Additionally, he challenged the paper’s publisher and the editor of the paper’s business section to a public tax policy debate in Washington, D.C.

“I hereby challenge A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times and the business section editor to a public debate in Washington, DC with me and the FedEx corporate vice president of tax. The focus of the debate should be federal tax policy and the relative societal benefits of business investments and the enormous intended benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle-class wage earners.”

He added that he looks forward to the chance to “bring further public awareness of the facts related to these important issues.”

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