COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2017
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES||
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
As of December 31, 2017, we were contingently liable for guarantees of indebtedness owed by third parties of $609 million, of which $256 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 an 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. Refer to Note 2.
The Company is involved in various tax matters, with respect to some of which the outcome is uncertain. We establish reserves to remove some or all of the tax benefit of any of our tax positions at the time we determine that it becomes uncertain based upon one of the following conditions: (1) the tax position is not "more likely than not" to be sustained, (2) the tax position is "more likely than not" to be sustained, but for a lesser amount, or (3) the tax position is "more likely than not" to be sustained, but not in the financial period in which the tax position was originally taken. For purposes of evaluating whether or not a tax position is uncertain, (1) we presume the tax position will be examined by the relevant taxing authority that has full knowledge of all relevant information; (2) the technical merits of a tax position are derived from authorities such as legislation and statutes, legislative intent, regulations, rulings and case law and their applicability to the facts and circumstances of the tax position; and (3) each tax position is evaluated without consideration of the possibility of offset or aggregation with other tax positions taken. A number of years may elapse before a particular uncertain tax position is audited and finally resolved or when a tax assessment is raised. The number of years subject to tax assessments varies depending on the tax jurisdiction. The tax benefit that has been previously reserved because of a failure to meet the "more likely than not" recognition threshold would be recognized in our income tax expense in the first interim period when the uncertainty disappears under any one of the following conditions: (1) the tax position is "more likely than not" to be sustained, (2) the tax position, amount, and/or timing is ultimately settled through negotiation or litigation, or (3) the statute of limitations for the tax position has expired. 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. 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.
During the 2007-2009 audit period, the Company followed the same transfer pricing methodology for these licenses that had consistently been followed since the methodology was agreed with the IRS in a 1996 closing agreement that applied back to 1987. The closing agreement provided prospective penalty protection as long as the Company followed 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 had determined that material facts and circumstances and relevant federal tax law had changed permitting it to 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. To the extent the matter remains designated, 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, and the IRS filed its answer on February 12, 2016. On October 4, 2017, the IRS filed an amended answer to the Company's petition in which it increased its transfer pricing adjustment by $385 million resulting in an additional tax adjustment of $135 million. A trial date has been set for March 5, 2018. The Company intends to vigorously defend its position and is confident in its ability to prevail on the merits.
On June 20, 2017, the Company filed a motion for summary judgment on the portion of the IRS' adjustments related to our licensee in Mexico. On December 14, 2017, the U.S. Tax Court issued a decision on the summary judgment motion in favor of the Company. This decision effectively reduced the IRS' potential tax adjustment by approximately $138 million.
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. However, the ultimate outcome of disputes of this nature is uncertain, and if the IRS were to prevail in any material respect 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 and 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 using actuarial methods and assumptions of the insurance industry, adjusted for our specific expectations based on our claim history. Our self-insurance reserves totaled $480 million and $527 million as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
We refer to our employees as "associates." As of December 31, 2017, our Company had approximately 61,800 associates, of which approximately 12,400 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, 2017, approximately 3,700 associates, excluding seasonal hires, in North America were covered by collective bargaining agreements. These agreements typically have terms of three years to five years 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, 2017 (in millions):
The entire disclosure for commitments, contingencies, and guarantees.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef