FORTUNE -- Honorable men and women can disagree about whether a front page story in Thursday's New York Times, blamed Apple (AAPL) for the epidemic of cellphone thefts or merely accused the company of not doing all it could.
But there's no getting around the fatal problem with the sentence in Floyd Norris' Apple's Shuffle Keeps Profit Out of Reach of Taxes, posted Thursday afternoon in the Times' Business Day section, that begins:
"Starbucks could get away with paying no taxes in Britain, and Apple can get away with paying little in the United States [relative to the profits it makes] ..." [See UPDATE 1]
Let me quote from the New York Times itself, in a Jan. 3, 2013 piece by Charles Duhigg and David Kocieniewski titled Inquiry Into Tech Giants' Tax Strategies Nears End:
"In its statement, Apple said it paid 'an enormous amount of taxes' to local, state and federal governments. 'In fiscal 2012 we paid $6 billion in federal corporate income taxes, which is 1 out of every 40 dollars in corporate income taxes collected by the U.S. government.'" [See UPDATE 2]
If that doesn't make Apple the country's single largest corporate tax payer, it surely puts it near the top.
We all know Apple is an easy target. The New York Times has a Pulitzer to prove it. But if the Times is going to pick on the company, maybe it should check its facts against its own reporting.
UPDATE 1: The phrase in brackets -- "relative to the profits it makes" -- was added to Norris' column after this item appeared. While it may add to the sentence's truthiness quotient, I'm not certain it pushes it over the line.
UPDATE 2: Before it went to press for Friday's paper edition, Norris added this paragraph: "A company spokesman says the company paid $6 billion in federal income taxes last year, and 'several billion dollars in income taxes within the U.S. in 2011.'" That helps, although for the record, the $6 billion was paid in Apple's fiscal 2012, which isn't quite the same as "last year."
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