COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2019
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
|COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES||
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
As of December 31, 2019, we were contingently liable for guarantees of indebtedness owed by third parties of $621 million, of which $249 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 is individually significant. These amounts represent 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 of 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. The number of years subject to tax audits or 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 16.
On September 17, 2015, the Company received a Statutory Notice of Deficiency (the "Notice") from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") for the tax years 2007 through 2009 after a five-year audit. In the Notice, the IRS claimed that the Company's U.S. 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 certain foreign 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 (the "Closing Agreement") that applied back to 1987. The Closing Agreement provided prospective penalty protection conditioned on the Company's continued adherence to the prescribed methodology absent a change in material facts or circumstances or relevant federal tax law. Although the IRS subsequently asserted, without explanation, that material facts and circumstances and relevant federal tax law had changed, it has not asserted penalties. 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 Closing Agreement. The IRS designated the matter for litigation on October 15, 2015. Due to the fact that the matter remains designated, the Company is 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 is pursuing, and will continue to pursue, all available administrative and judicial remedies necessary to vigorously defend its position. 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.
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 U.S. Tax Court trial was held from March 8, 2018 through May 11, 2018. The Company and the IRS filed and exchanged final post-trial briefs in April 2019. It is not known how much time will elapse thereafter prior to the issuance of the court's opinion. In the interim, or subsequent to the court's opinion, the IRS may propose similar adjustments for years subsequent to the 2007-2009 litigation period. While the Company continues to strongly disagree with the IRS' position, there is no assurance that the court will rule in the Company's favor, and it is possible that all or some portion of the adjustment proposed by the Notice ultimately could be sustained. In that event, the Company may be subject to significant additional liabilities for the years at issue and potentially also for subsequent periods, which could have a material adverse impact on the Company's financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
The Company regularly assesses the likelihood of adverse outcomes resulting from tax disputes such as this and other examinations for all open years to determine the adequacy of its tax reserves. Any such adjustments related to years prior to 2018, either in the litigation period or later, may have an impact on the transition tax payable as part of the Tax Reform Act.
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 $301 million and $362 million as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
The entire disclosure for commitments, contingencies, and guarantees.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef