FedEx CEO blasts New York Times report on tax bill, challenges editors to debate

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The top executive of shipping giant FedEx denounced a scathing New York Times report about the company’s tax status published over the weekend.

“FedEx invested billions in capital items eligible for accelerated depreciation and made large contributions to our employee pension plans,” FedEx CEO Frederick Smith said. “These factors have temporarily lowered our federal income tax, which was the law’s intention to help grow GDP, create jobs, and increase wages.”

The New York Times report, published Sunday, relayed how the company had reduced its yearly tax bill from more than $1 billion in 2017 to $0 the next year, in part largely to the newly-passed Republican tax code.

Smith dismissed the report and pointed instead to the New York Times Company’s own financial status.

“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,” he said. “Also in 2018, the New York Times cut their capital investments nearly in half to $57 million, which equates to a rounding error when compared to the $6 billion of capital that FedEx invested in the U.S. economy during that same year.”

Smith called the comparison “pertinent” and challenged the journalists responsible for the publishing of the story to a debate, the topic of which he did not mention.

“I hereby challenge A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times and the business section editor to a public debate in Washington, D.C., with me and the FedEx corporate vice president of tax,” the CEO said.

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