Facebook in billion dollar dispute with the IRS related to transfers of intangibles to Ireland

In the annual report for 2018 Facebook Inc. has included the following statement on current tax disputes with the IRS.

“…The tax laws applicable to our business, including the laws of the United States and other jurisdictions, are subject to interpretation and certain jurisdictions are aggressively interpreting their laws in new ways in an effort to raise additional tax revenue from companies such as Facebook. The taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, which could increase our worldwide effective tax rate and harm our financial position, results of operations, and cash flows. For example, in 2016, the IRS issued us a formal assessment relating to transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries in conjunction with the examination of the 2010 tax year, and although we disagree with the IRS’s position and are contesting this issue, the ultimate resolution is uncertain and, if resolved in a manner unfavorable to us, may adversely affect our financial results.”

“We are subject to taxation in the United States and various other state and foreign jurisdictions. The material jurisdictions in which we are subject to potential examination include the United States and Ireland. We are under examination by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for our 2011 through 2013 tax years and Ireland for our 2012 through 2015 tax years. Our 2014 and subsequent years remain open to examination by the IRS. Our 2016 and subsequent years remain open to examination in Ireland.”

“In July 2016, we received a Statutory Notice of Deficiency (Notice) from the IRS related to transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries in conjunction with the examination of the 2010 tax year. While the Notice applies only to the 2010 tax year, the IRS states that it will also apply its position for tax years subsequent to 2010, which, if the IRS prevails in its position, could result in an additional federal tax liability of an estimated aggregate amount of approximately $3.0 billion to $5.0 billion in excess of the amounts in our originally filed U.S. return, plus interest and any penalties asserted. We do not agree with the position of the IRS and have filed a petition in the United States Tax Court challenging the Notice. We have previously accrued an estimated unrecognized tax benefit consistent with the guidance in ASC 740 that is lower than the potential additional federal tax liability of $3.0 billion to $5.0 billion in excess of the amounts in our originally filed U.S. return, plus interest and penalties. If the IRS prevails in the assessment of additional tax due based on its position, the assessed tax, interest and penalties, if any, could have a material adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations, and cash flows. As of December 31, 2017, we have not resolved this matter and proceedings continue in the United States Tax Court. We believe that adequate amounts have been reserved for any adjustments that may ultimately result from these examinations.”

“We believe that adequate amounts have been reserved for any adjustments to the provision for income taxes or other tax items that may ultimately result from these examinations. Although the timing of the resolution, settlement, and closure of any audits is highly uncertain, it is reasonably possible that the balance of gross unrecognized tax benefits could significantly change in the next 12 months. Given the number of years remaining that are subject to examination, we are unable to estimate the full range of possible adjustments to the balance of gross unrecognized tax benefits. However, we do not anticipate a significant impact to such amounts within the next 12 months.”

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