FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith has challenged A.G. Sulzberger, publisher and business editor of The New York Times, to a public debate over federal tax policy, after the paper published an article critical of the company's use of tax breaks.
On 17th November, the Times claimed that FedEx did not increase investment in new equipment or other assets in the fiscal year following President Trump’s decision to sign a $1.5 trillion corporate tax cut into law, despite proponents of the tax cuts—including Smith and UPS CEO, David Abney—suggesting that the cuts would serve as a stimulus for investment.
The article suggested that FedEx’s effective tax rate was “less than zero” in fiscal year 2018.
In a press release, FedEx described the article as “a deliberate distortion of our company’s actions before and after tax reform” and listed its capital investments since the reform. Smith accused The New York Times of not paying its own federal income tax and of halving its own capital investments in 2018.
“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,” Smith said.
“The focus of the debate should be on 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.”
A spokesperson for the Times said that FedEx’s response “does not challenge a single fact in our story. We’re confident in the accuracy of our reporting.”