|3 Months Ended
Mar. 31, 2012
|Income Tax Disclosure [Abstract]
Our effective tax rate remained at 34.5% in the first quarter of 2012, the same rate as in the first quarter of 2011.
We file income tax returns in the U.S. federal jurisdiction, most U.S. state and local jurisdictions and many non-U.S. jurisdictions. We have substantially resolved all U.S. federal income tax matters for tax years prior to 2005. During the fourth quarter of 2010, we received a refund of $139 million as a result of the resolution of tax years 2003 through 2004 with the IRS Appeals Office. We have filed all required U.S. state and local returns reporting the result of the resolution of the U.S. federal income tax audit of the tax years 2003 and 2004. A limited number of U.S. state and local matters are the subject of ongoing audits, administrative appeals or litigation.
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. 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. At this time, an estimate of the range of the reasonably possible change cannot be made.
In June 2011, we received IRS reports covering income taxes and excise taxes for tax years 2005 through 2007 and 2003 through 2007, respectively. The reports propose assessments related to amounts paid for software, research credit expenditures and deductibility of financing and post-acquisition integration costs as well as taxes on amounts paid for air transportation. Receipt of the reports represents only the conclusion of the examination process. We disagree with the proposed assessments related to these matters. Therefore, we have filed protests and protective tax refund claims. During the third quarter of 2011, the IRS responded to our protests and forwarded the cases to IRS Appeals. There are multiple factors that prevent us from being able to estimate the amount of loss, if any, that may result from these matters including: (1) we are vigorously defending these matters and believe that we have a number of meritorious legal defenses; (2) we have filed refund claims in excess of the proposed assessments; (3) there are unresolved questions of law and fact that could be of importance to the ultimate resolutions of these matters, including the calculation of any additional taxes and/or tax refunds; and (4) these matters are at the initial stage of a multi-level administrative appeals process that may ultimately be resolved by litigation. Accordingly, at this time, we are not able to estimate a possible loss or range of loss that may result from these matters or to determine whether such loss, if any, would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or liquidity.