Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Income Taxes

Income Taxes
6 Months Ended
Jul. 01, 2017
Income Tax Disclosure [Abstract]  
Income Taxes
Income Taxes
The effective income tax rate for the first half of 2017 was 21.0% compared to 19.1% in the first half of 2016. Discrete tax items had no net impact on the effective tax rate for the first six months of 2017, as a $4.9 million tax benefit related to stock compensation was fully offset by $3.0 million of net tax expense related to unrecognized tax benefits and interest, and $1.9 million of discrete tax expense related to the effects of tax rate changes. The first six months of 2016 included a net discrete tax benefit of $17.1 million, which included a $17.4 million tax benefit related to the early adoption of the accounting standards update on stock compensation, $3.8 million of net tax benefits related to the realization of previously unrecognized tax benefits and interest and $4.1 million of discrete tax expense related to the effects of tax rate changes. The $17.1 million net discrete tax benefit in 2016 reduced the effective income tax rate by 3.6%. Without discrete items, the effective income tax rate for the first half of 2017 decreased by 1.7% compared with the 2016 period primarily due to a higher percentage of income in lower tax rate jurisdictions and the impact of early adopting the accounting standards update regarding intra-entity asset transfers.
VF files a consolidated U.S. federal income tax return, as well as separate and combined income tax returns in numerous state and international jurisdictions. In the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) examinations for tax years through 2012 have been effectively settled. The examination of Timberland’s 2011 tax return is ongoing. The IRS has proposed material adjustments to Timberland’s 2011 tax return that would significantly impact the timing of cash tax payments and assessment of interest charges. The Company has formally disagreed with the proposed adjustments. During 2015, VF filed a petition to the U.S. Tax Court to begin the process of resolving this matter, but it has not yet reached a resolution. In addition, VF is currently subject to examination by various state and international tax authorities. Management regularly assesses the potential outcomes of both ongoing and future examinations for the current and prior years, and has concluded that VF’s provision for income taxes is adequate. The outcome of any one examination is not expected to have a material impact on VF’s consolidated financial statements. Management believes that some of these audits and negotiations will conclude during the next 12 months.
VF was granted a ruling which lowered the effective income tax rate on taxable earnings for years 2010 through 2014 under Belgium’s excess profit tax regime. In February 2015, the European Union Commission (“EU”) opened a state aid investigation into Belgium’s rulings. On January 11, 2016, the EU announced its decision that these rulings were illegal and ordered that tax benefits granted under these rulings should be collected from the affected companies, including VF. On March 22, 2016, the Belgium government filed an appeal seeking annulment of the EU decision. Additionally, on June 21, 2016, VF Europe BVBA filed its own application for annulment of the EU decision. Both of the listed requests for annulment remain open and unresolved.
On December 22, 2016, Belgium adopted a law which entitled the Belgium tax authorities to issue tax assessments, and demand timely payments from companies which benefited from the excess profits regime. On January 10, 2017, VF Europe BVBA received an assessment for €31.9 million tax and interest related to excess profits benefits received in prior years. VF Europe BVBA remitted €31.9 million ($33.9 million) on January 13, 2017, which was recorded as an income tax receivable based on the expected success of the aforementioned requests for annulment. If this matter is adversely resolved, these amounts will not be collected by VF.
During the first half of 2017, the amount of net unrecognized tax benefits and associated interest increased by $8.1 million to $158.7 million. Management believes that it is reasonably possible that the amount of unrecognized income tax benefits and interest may decrease during the next 12 months by approximately $28.1 million related to the completion of examinations and other settlements with tax authorities and the expiration of statutes of limitations, of which $25.1 million would reduce income tax expense.