COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2015
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
As of December 31, 2015, we were contingently liable for guarantees of indebtedness owed by third parties of $572 million, of which $263 million was related to VIEs. Refer to Note 1 for additional information related to the Company's maximum exposure to loss due to our involvement with VIEs. Our guarantees are primarily related to third-party customers, bottlers, vendors and container manufacturing operations and have arisen through the normal course of business. These guarantees have various terms, and none of these guarantees was individually significant. The amount represents the maximum potential future payments that we could be required to make under the guarantees; however, we do not consider it probable that we will be required to satisfy these guarantees.
We believe our exposure to concentrations of credit risk is limited due to the diverse geographic areas covered by our operations.
The Company is involved in various legal proceedings. We establish reserves for specific legal proceedings when we determine that the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome is probable and the amount of loss can be reasonably estimated. Management has also identified certain other legal matters where we believe an unfavorable outcome is reasonably possible and/or for which no estimate of possible losses can be made. Management believes that the total liabilities to the Company that may arise as a result of currently pending legal proceedings will not have a material adverse effect on the Company taken as a whole.
At the time we acquire or divest our interest in an entity, we sometimes agree to indemnify the seller or buyer for specific contingent liabilities. Management believes that any liability to the Company that may arise as a result of any such indemnification agreements will not have a material adverse effect on the Company taken as a whole.
The Company is involved in various tax matters, with respect to some of which the outcome is uncertain. These audits may result in the assessment of additional taxes that are subsequently resolved with authorities or potentially through the courts. Refer to Note 14.
On September 17, 2015, the Company received a Statutory Notice of Deficiency ("Notice") from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") for the tax years 2007 through 2009, after a five-year audit. In the Notice, the IRS claims that the Company's United States taxable income should be increased by an amount that creates a potential additional federal income tax liability of approximately $3.3 billion for the period, plus interest. No penalties were asserted in the Notice; however, the IRS has since taken the position that it is not precluded from asserting penalties and notified the Company that it may do so. The disputed amounts largely relate to a transfer pricing matter involving the appropriate amount of taxable income the Company should report in the United States in connection with its licensing of intangible property to certain related foreign licensees regarding the manufacturing, distribution, sale, marketing and promotion of products in overseas markets.
The Company has followed the same transfer pricing methodology for these licenses since the methodology was agreed with the IRS in a 1996 closing agreement that applied back to 1987. The closing agreement provides prospective penalty protection as long as the Company follows the prescribed methodology and material facts and circumstances and relevant Federal tax law have not changed. On February 11, 2016, the IRS notified the Company, without further explanation, that the IRS has determined that material facts and circumstances and relevant Federal tax law have changed and that it may assert penalties. The Company does not agree with this determination. The Company's compliance with the closing agreement was audited and confirmed by the IRS in five successive audit cycles covering the subsequent 11 years through 2006, with the last audit concluding as recently as 2009.
The Notice represents a repudiation of the methodology previously adopted in the 1996 closing agreement. The IRS designated the matter for litigation on October 15, 2015. Therefore, the Company will be prevented from pursuing any administrative settlement at IRS Appeals or under the IRS Advance Pricing and Mutual Agreement Program.
The Company firmly believes that the IRS' claims are without merit and plans to pursue all available administrative and judicial remedies necessary to resolve this matter. To that end, the Company filed a petition in the U.S. Tax Court on December 14, 2015. The Company intends to vigorously defend its position and is confident in its ability to prevail on the merits. The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from examinations such as this to determine the adequacy of its tax reserves. The Company believes that the final adjudication of this matter will not have a material impact on its consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows and that it has adequate tax reserves for all tax matters. However, the ultimate outcome of disputes of this nature is uncertain, and if the IRS were to prevail on its assertions, the additional tax, interest, and any potential penalties could have a material adverse impact on the Company's financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Risk Management Programs
The Company has numerous global insurance programs in place to help protect the Company from the risk of loss. In general, we are self-insured for large portions of many different types of claims; however, we do use commercial insurance above our self-insured retentions to reduce the Company's risk of catastrophic loss. Our reserves for the Company's self-insured losses are estimated through actuarial procedures of the insurance industry and by using industry assumptions, adjusted for our specific expectations based on our claim history. The Company's self-insurance reserves totaled $560 million and $530 million as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.
We refer to our employees as "associates." As of December 31, 2015, our Company had approximately 123,200 associates, of which approximately 60,900 associates were located in the United States. Our Company, through its divisions and subsidiaries, is a party to numerous collective bargaining agreements. As of December 31, 2015, approximately 17,500 associates, excluding seasonal hires, in North America were covered by collective bargaining agreements. These agreements typically have terms of three years to five years. We currently expect that we will be able to renegotiate such agreements on satisfactory terms when they expire. The Company believes that its relations with its associates are generally satisfactory.
The following table summarizes our minimum lease payments under noncancelable operating leases with initial or remaining lease terms in excess of one year as of December 31, 2015 (in millions):