NONRECURRING ITEMS IN THE INCOME TAX NOTE




Income tax notes are among the more challenging of the disclosures found in annual reports. They can, however, be a rich source of information on nonrecurring items. Fortunately, our emphasis on the persistence of earnings requires a focus on a single key schedule found in the standard income tax note. The goal is simply to identify nonrecurring tax increases and decreases in this schedule.

The key source of information on nonrecurring increases and decreases in income taxes is a schedule that reconciles the actual tax expense or tax benefit with the amount that would have resulted if all pretax results had been taxed at the statutory federal rate. This disclosure for Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is presented in Exhibit 2.18.

Notice that ADM’s effective tax rate is reduced in 2000 by 17 percentage points as a result of redetermining taxes in prior years. This percentage reduction

NONRECURRING ITEMS IN THE INCOME TAX NOTE

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is expressed in terms of the relationship of the tax reduction to income from continuing operations before taxes. ADM’s 2000 pretax income from continuing operations is $353,237,000 and its total tax provision was $52,334,000. The 2000 effective tax rate, disclosed in Exhibit 2.18, is derived by dividing the total tax provision by income from continuing operations before taxes: $52,334,000 divided by $353,237,000 equals 14.8%.

The dollar, as opposed to percentage tax savings, is found by multiplying 17% times the 2000 pretax earnings: $353,237,000 × 0.17 = $60 million. ADM explained that “The decrease in income taxes for 2000 resulted primarily from a $60 million tax credit related to a redetermination of foreign sales corporation benefits and the resolution of various other tax issues.” ADM had a dispute with tax authorities over taxes for previous years, and it won. While there may be some ongoing benefit from this outcome, the $60 million should be viewed as nonrecurring in evaluating ADM’s earnings performance. Ongoing tax savings from its foreign sales corporations will continue to be realized and will be reflected in the reduced level of the ADM effective tax rate.

ADM’s 1998 effective tax rate was also increased by 1.4 percentage points as a result of fines and litigation settlements being deducted in arriving at pretax earnings. For income tax purposes, however, these amounts are not deductible, which means that unlike most other expenses these fines and settlements reduce after-tax earnings by the full amount of the expenses. There are no associated income tax savings, and the 1.4-percentage-point increase in the effective tax rate for 1998 is due to the nondeductible character of the litigation settlements and fines. The nonrecurring item in this case is simply the total of the fines and settlements. The tax benefit not realized because of the non-deductibility of the fines and settlements is not a separate nonrecurring item.

ADM’s net income increased from about $266 million in 1999 to about $301 million in 2000. Without the $60 million nonrecurring tax benefit, ADM’s 2000 net income would have declined to $241 million: $301 million − $60 million = $241 million. Identifying and adjusting 2000 earnings for this nonrecurring tax benefit results in a far different message: a decline in earnings in contrast to the reported increase.

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The benefit from the tax redetermination is clearly a nonrecurring item. The tax reductions due to the foreign sales corporation feature of the tax law may or may not be sustainable. Any profit component that relies on a specific feature of the current tax law should be viewed as somewhat vulnerable. That is, its continuance requires that (1) this feature of the tax law be preserved and (2) that ADM continues to take the actions necessary to earn these tax benefits.

The ADM disclosures provide one example of a nonrecurring tax benefit plus at least one example of a benefit that may be somewhat more vulnerable than other sources of operating profit. Exhibit 2.19 provides a sampling of other nonrecurring tax benefits and tax charges that were found in recent company tax notes.

The tax benefits of both Biogen and Dana result from utilizing loss carryforwards whose benefits had not previously been recognized. The losses that produced the tax savings originated in earlier periods. Because the likelihood of their realization was not sufficiently high, the potential tax savings of the losses were not recognized in the income statements in the years in which these losses were incurred. The subsequent realization of these benefits occurs when the operating and capital loss carryforwards are used to shield operating earnings and capital gains, respectively, from taxation. These benefits should be treated as nonrecurring in analyzing earnings performance for the year in which the benefits are realized.

Gerber Scientific’s effective tax rate was reduced as a result of its recognizing benefits from research and development tax credits. This feature of the tax law is designed to encourage R&D spending. As with all other tax credits, continuation of this source of tax reduction requires that the feature continue to be part of the tax law and that Gerber make the R&D expenditures necessary to earn future benefits.

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The nonrecurring items of First Aviation Services and Micron Technology both result from adjustments of their tax valuation allowances. The allowance balances represent the portion of tax benefits that have been judged unlikely to be realized. Increasing this balance will create a nonrecurring tax

NONRECURRING ITEMS IN THE INCOME TAX NOTE

charge; decreasing it, a benefit. The prospects for realization of the tax benefit must have declined for Micron Technology but improved for First Aviation Services.

Both the Fairchild Corporation and M.A. Hanna Company tax benefits were the result of reducing previously recorded tax obligations. Subsequent information indicated that the liabilities where overstated. The liability reduction was offset by a comparable reduction in the tax provision. This benefit should also be viewed as nonrecurring.

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Pall Corporation has a tax reduction that is associated with operations located in Puerto Rico. In fact, most firms with operations in other countries produce such tax benefits. Foreign states offer these benefits to encourage companies, typically manufacturing companies, to locate within their borders. In many cases these benefits are for a limited period of time, though renewals are sometimes possible. As a result, while the benefits are real, there remains a possibility that they will cease at some point. In fact, Pall Corporation disclosed just such a change in its income tax note:

The Company has two Puerto Rico subsidiaries that are organized as “possessions corporations” as defined in Section 936 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 repealed Section 936 of the Internal Revenue Code, which provided a tax credit for U.S. companies with operations in certain U.S. possessions, including Puerto Rico. For companies with existing qualifying Puerto Rico operations, such as Pall, Section 936 will be phased out over a period of several years, with a decreasing credit being available through the last taxable year beginning before January 1, 2006.

This change in U.S. tax law means that previous tax benefits from the operations in Puerto Rico are not sustainable. When a company reports tax benefits because of operations in other countries, the possibility that the benefits might end or be reduced should be considered.



Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: The carrying values of inventories maintained under the LIFO method are sometimes significantly understated in relationship to their replacement cost. For public companies, the difference between the LIFO carrying value and replacement cost (frequently approximated by FIFO) is a required disclosure under SEC regulations. An example of a substantial difference between LIFO and current replacement value is found in a summary of the inventory disclosures of Handy and Harman Inc. in Exhibit 2.17. view more..
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Ans: After the income statement, the operating activities section of the statement of cash flows is an excellent secondary source to use in locating nonrecurring items (step 2 in the search sequence in Exhibit 2.3). The diagnostic value of this section of the statement of cash flows results from two factors. First, gains and losses on the sale of investments and fixed assets must be removed from net income in arriving at cash flow from operating activities. Second, noncash items of revenue or gain and expense or loss must also be removed from net income. view more..
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Ans: An examination of the income statement, the first step in the search sequence, requires an understanding of the design and content of contemporary income statements. This knowledge will aid in the location and analysis of nonrecurring view more..
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Ans: Income tax notes are among the more challenging of the disclosures found in annual reports. They can, however, be a rich source of information on nonrecurring items. Fortunately, our emphasis on the persistence of earnings requires a focus on a single key schedule found in the standard income tax note. The goal is simply to identify nonrecurring tax increases and decreases in this schedule. view more..
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Ans: An “other income (expense), net,” or equivalent line item is commonly found in both the single- and multistep income statement. In the case of the multistep format, the composition of other income and expenses is sometimes detailed on the face of the income statement. In both the multi- and single-step formats, the most typical presentation is a single line item with a supporting note. Even though a note detailing the contents of other income and expense may exist, companies typically do not specify its location. Other income and expense notes tend to be listed close to the end of the notes to the financial statements view more..
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Ans: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) is an annual and a quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission reporting requirement. Provisions of this regulation have a direct bearing on the goal of locating nonrecurring items. As part of the MD&A, the SEC requires registrants to: view more..
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Ans: Typically, most material nonrecurring items will have been located by proceeding through the first six steps of the search sequence in Exhibit 2.3. However, some additional nonrecurring items may be located in other notes. Nonrecurring items can surface in virtually any note to the financial statements. We will now discuss three selected notes that frequently contain other nonrecurring items: notes on foreign exchange, restructuring, and quarterly and segment financial data. Recall that inventory, income tax, and other income and expense notes have already been discussed in steps 3 to 5. view more..
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Ans: The last section in the AK Steel Holdings income statement in Exhibit 2.9 is devoted to the reporting of other comprehensive income. This is a relatively new feature of the income statement and was introduced with the issuance by the FASB of SFAS No. 130, Reporting Comprehensive Income.44 The goal of the standard is to expand the concept of income to included selected items of nonrecurring revenue, gain, expense and loss. Under the new standard, traditional net income is combined with a new component, “other comprehensive income,” to produce a new bottom line, “comprehensive income.” view more..
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Ans: The work to this point has laid out important background but is not complete. Still required is a device to assist in summarizing information discovered on nonrecurring items so that new measures of sustainable earnings can be developed. We devote the balance of this chapter to introducing a worksheet specially designed to summarize nonrecurring items and illustrating its development and interpretation in a case study. view more..
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Ans: The sustainable earnings worksheet is shown in Exhibit 2.26. Detailed instructions on completing the worksheet follow: 1. Net income or loss is recorded on the top line of the worksheet. 2. All identified items of nonrecurring expense or loss, which were included in the income statement on a pretax basis, are recorded on the “add” lines provided. view more..
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Ans: The sustainable earnings base provides earnings information from which the distorting effects of nonrecurring items have been removed. Some analysts refer to such revised numbers as representing “core” or “underlying” earnings. Sustainable is used here in the sense that earnings devoid of nonrecurring items of revenue, gain, expense, and loss are much more likely to be maintained in the future, other things equal. Base implies that sustainable earnings provide the most reliable foundation or starting point for projections of future results. The more reliable such forecasts become, the less the likelihood that earnings surprises will result. Again, Phillips Petroleum captures the essence of nonrecurring items in the following: view more..
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Ans: This case example of using the SEB worksheet is based on the 1997 annual report of Baker Hughes Inc. and its results for 1995 to 1997. The income statement, statement of cash flows, management’s discussion and analysis of results of operations (MD&A), and selected notes are in Exhibits 2.27 through 2.34. Further, to reinforce the objective of efficiency in financial analysis, we adhere to the search sequence outlined in Exhibit 2.3. view more..
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Ans: The nonrecurring items located in the Baker Hughes annual report are enumerated in the completed SEB worksheet in Exhibit 2.35. Each of the nonrecurring items is recorded on the SEB worksheet. When an item is disclosed for the first, second, third, or fourth time, it is designated by a corresponding superscript view more..
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Ans: The construction of an SEB worksheet always requires a judgment call. One could, of course, avoid all materiality judgments by simply recording all nonrecurring items without regard to their materiality. However, the classification of items as nonrecurring, as well as on occasion their measurement, calls for varying degrees of judgment. Some examples of Baker Hughes items that required the exercise of judgment, either in terms of classification or measurement, are discussed next. view more..
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Ans: An estimation of the sustainable portion of earnings should be the centerpiece of analyzing business earnings. This task has become a far greater challenge over the past decade as the number of nonrecurring items has increased dramatically. This explosion has been driven by corporate reorganizations and associated activities. Some of the labels attached to these producers of nonrecurring items are restructuring, rightsizing, downsizing, reengineering, redeployment, repositioning, reorganizing, rationalizing, and realignment. view more..
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Ans: Abigail Peabody was a very well-known nature photographer. Over the years she had had a number of best-sellers, and her books adorned the coffee tables of many households worldwide. On this particular day she was contemplating her golden years, which were fast approaching. In particular she was reviewing her year-end investment report and wondering why she was not better prepared. After all, she had been featured in the Sunday New York Times book section, had discussed her works with Martha Stewart, and had been the keynote speaker at the Audubon Society’s annual fund-raiser. She knew it was not her investment advisers’ fault. Their performance over the past years had been better than many of the market indixes. She wondered if she was just a poor businessperson. view more..




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