FedEx CEO dares New York Times publisher to debate $0 tax bill story

FedEx CEO called The New York Times story "distorted and factually incorrect."

The CEO of FedEx challenged The New York Times' publisher A.G. Sulzberger to a debate after the paper ran a story titled "How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0" on Sunday.

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"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," FedEx CEO Frederick Smith said in a statement Sunday.

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"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," Smith said.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha told FOX Business that Smith's invitation to Sulzberger is "clearly a stunt and an effort to distract from the findings of our story."

The Times is "confident in the accuracy of our reporting" and "FedEx's colorful response does not actually challenge a single fact in our story," Ha said.

FedEx owed more than $1.5 billion in taxes in its 2017 fiscal year before President Trump's tax overhaul and owed nothing the year following the tax cut, according to the Times.

Smith, the corporation's founder, lobbied big time for the tax plan, even presenting a proposal of FedEx's own. Trump signed into law the $1.5 trillion tax cut that became a signature legislative achievement.

"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 said.

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"Pertinent to this outrageous distortion of the truth is the fact that 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," he continued.

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FOX Business' Ken Martin contributed to this report.