Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)


9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2018
Income Tax Disclosure [Abstract]  
Our effective tax rate decreased to 20.2% in the third quarter of 2018 from 35.0% in the same period of 2017 (20.8% year-to-date in 2018 compared to 33.9% in the same period of 2017). The decrease in our effective tax rate was primarily due to the impact of the Tax Act, discussed further below, which reduced the U.S. federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% effective January 1, 2018. In addition, the recognition of excess tax benefits related to share-based compensation in income tax reduced our effective rate by 0.8% year-to-date in 2018 compared to 1.1% in the same period of 2017 (there was not a significant impact in the third quarter of 2018 or 2017). Other factors that impacted our effective tax rate in the third quarter and year-to-date periods of 2018 compared with the same periods of 2017 include favorable resolutions of uncertain tax positions, favorable U.S. state and local tax law changes, favorable tax provisions enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and discrete tax credits associated with the filing of our 2017 U.S. federal income tax return.
As discussed in note 16, we recognized pre-tax transformation strategy costs of $97 million in the third quarter of 2018 ($360 million year-to-date). As a result, we recorded an additional income tax benefit of $24 million ($87 million year-to-date). This benefit was generated at a higher average tax rate than the 2018 U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to the effect of U.S. state and local taxes and foreign taxes.
As discussed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017, we have recognized liabilities for uncertain tax positions. We reevaluate these uncertain tax positions on a quarterly basis. A number of years may elapse before an uncertain tax position is audited and ultimately settled. It is difficult to predict the ultimate outcome or the timing of resolution for uncertain tax positions. It is reasonably possible that the amount of unrecognized tax benefits could significantly increase or decrease within the next twelve months. However, an estimate of the range of reasonably possible outcomes cannot be made. Items that may cause changes to unrecognized tax benefits include the timing of interest deductions and the allocation of income and expense between tax jurisdictions. These changes could result from the settlement of ongoing litigation, the completion of ongoing examinations, the expiration of the statute of limitations or other unforeseen circumstances.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
On December 22, 2017, the United States enacted into law the Tax Act. The Tax Act makes broad and complex changes to the U.S. tax code, including a permanent corporate rate reduction to 21% and a transition to a territorial international system effective in 2018. The Tax Act also includes provisions that affected 2017, including: (1) requiring a one-time transition tax on certain unrepatriated earnings of foreign subsidiaries ("Transition Tax") that is payable over eight years; (2) requiring a remeasurement of all U.S. deferred tax assets and liabilities to the newly enacted corporate tax rate of 21%; and (3) providing for additional first-year depreciation that allows full expensing of qualified property placed into service after September 27, 2017.
In late December 2017, the SEC staff issued Staff Accounting Bulletin ("SAB") 118, which provides guidance on accounting for the tax effects of the Tax Act. SAB 118 provides a measurement period that should not extend beyond one year from the Tax Act enactment date for companies to complete the related accounting under U.S. GAAP. If a company's accounting for certain income tax effects of the Tax Act is incomplete, but it is able to determine a reasonable estimate, it must record a provisional estimate in the financial statements. Accordingly, we recorded provisional estimates in the year ended December 31, 2017 related to our Transition Tax liability, our change in indefinite reinvestment assertion for certain foreign subsidiaries and the remeasurement of our U.S. net deferred tax liabilities.
To calculate the amount of Transition Tax, we must determine, in addition to other factors, the amount of post-1986 earnings and profits ("E&P") of the foreign subsidiaries as well as the amount of non-U.S. income taxes paid on such earnings. We were able to make a reasonable estimate of the Transition Tax and recorded a provisional liability of $310 million in the year ended December 31, 2017; however, there are certain factors that could impact our provisional estimate.
First, several of our foreign subsidiaries have a fiscal year-end other than December 31, and E&P for these subsidiaries cannot be precisely calculated until their fiscal years conclude during 2018. Second, we continue to gather additional information needed to precisely estimate the impact of the Transition Tax on our U.S. state and local tax liabilities given the complexity of the relevant state laws. Finally, we expect additional regulatory guidance and technical clarifications from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service that could change our provisional estimate of the Transition Tax.
As the U.S. has moved to a territorial system, we have changed our indefinite reinvestment assertion with respect to the earnings of certain foreign subsidiaries. As a result, we recorded a provisional deferred tax liability and corresponding increase to deferred tax expense of $24 million in the year ended December 31, 2017. There are certain factors, discussed above with regard to the Transition Tax, which could also impact our provisional estimate for the change in indefinite reinvestment assertion. For all other foreign subsidiaries, we continue to assert that these earnings are indefinitely reinvested. We will continue to evaluate our indefinite reinvestment assertion for all foreign subsidiaries in light of the Tax Act and our provisional estimate is subject to change.
For our net U.S. deferred tax liabilities, we recorded a provisional decrease of $606 million with a corresponding reduction to deferred tax expense of $606 million for the year ended December 31, 2017. While we are able to make a reasonable estimate of the impact of the reduction in corporate rate, it may be affected by other analysis related to the Tax Act, including, but not limited to, completing the analysis of our 2017 capital expenditures that qualify for full expensing and the state tax effect of adjustments made to federal temporary differences.
During the third quarter of 2018, guidance was issued clarifying certain provisions of the Tax Act, and we filed our 2017 U.S. federal income tax return. We have not identified or made any adjustments to our provisional estimates through the third quarter of 2018. During the fourth quarter, we expect the issuance of additional regulatory guidance on certain provisions of the Tax Act, and we will file our 2017 U.S. state and local and certain foreign tax returns. We expect to complete our accounting for our provisional estimates during the fourth quarter, which is within the prescribed measurement period.