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EBay Tax Hit: Ray of Hope or Storm Cloud for Silicon Valley?


As of June 30, 2013, we have not provided deferred U.S. income taxes or foreign withholding taxes on temporary differences of approximately $76.4 billion resulting from earnings for certain non-U.S. subsidiaries which are permanently reinvested outside the U.S. The unrecognized deferred tax liability associated with these temporary differences was approximately $24.4 billion at June 30, 2013.

We earn a significant amount of our operating income outside the U.S., which is deemed to be permanently reinvested in foreign jurisdictions. As a result, as discussed above under Cash, Cash Equivalents, and Investments, the majority of our cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments are held by foreign subsidiaries. We currently do not intend nor foresee a need to repatriate these funds. We expect existing domestic cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments, and cash flows from operations to continue to be sufficient to fund our domestic operating activities and cash commitments for investing and financing activities, such as regular quarterly dividends, debt repayment schedules, and material capital expenditures, for at least the next 12 months and thereafter for the foreseeable future. In addition, we expect existing foreign cash, cash equivalents, short-term investments, and cash flows from operations to continue to be sufficient to fund our foreign operating activities and cash commitments for investing activities, such as material capital expenditures, for at least the next 12 months and thereafter for the foreseeable future.

Should we require more capital in the U.S. than is generated by our operations domestically, for example to fund significant discretionary activities, such as business acquisitions and share repurchases, we could elect to repatriate future earnings from foreign jurisdictions or raise capital in the U.S. through debt or equity issuances. These alternatives could result in higher effective tax rates, increased interest expense, or dilution of our earnings. We have borrowed funds domestically and continue to believe we have the ability to do so at reasonable interest rates.

Our effective tax rates were approximately 19% and 20% for the three months ended March 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, and 18% and 19% for the nine months ended March 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. Our effective tax rate was lower than the U.S. federal statutory rate primarily due to earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions resulting from producing and distributing our products and services through our foreign regional operations centers in Ireland, Singapore, and Puerto Rico.

The current quarter's effective tax rate was lower than the prior year's third quarter effective tax rate, primarily due to nonrecurring items in the prior year's third quarter effective tax rate, such as the non-deductible EU fine and transfer pricing developments related to Denmark and India which were offset by adjustments to prior year tax provision estimates and unfavorable changes in the proportion of earnings taxed at lower rates in foreign jurisdictions. The current year's effective tax rate was lower than the prior year's effective tax rate, primarily due to additional U.S. tax relief determined to be available with respect to transfer pricing developments in certain foreign tax jurisdictions, primarily Denmark.

Tax contingencies and other tax liabilities were $9.4 billion as of March 31, 2014 and June 30, 2013, and were included in other long-term liabilities. While we settled a portion of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service ("I.R.S.") audit for tax years 2004 to 2006 during the third quarter of fiscal year 2011, we remain under audit for these years. In February 2012, the I.R.S. withdrew its 2011 Revenue Agents Report and reopened the audit phase of the examination. As of March 31, 2014, the primary unresolved issue related to transfer pricing which could have a significant impact on our financial statements if not resolved favorably. We do not believe it is reasonably possible that the total amount of unrecognized tax benefits will significantly increase or decrease within the next 12 months, as we do not believe the remaining open issues will be resolved within the next 12 months. We also continue to be subject to examination by the I.R.S. for tax years 2007 to 2013.

We are subject to income tax in many jurisdictions outside the U.S. Our operations in certain jurisdictions remain subject to examination for tax years 1996 to 2013, some of which are currently under audit by local tax authorities. The resolutions of these audits are not expected to be material to our financial statements.

We are subject to income taxes in the U.S. and many foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in determining our worldwide provision for income taxes. In the ordinary course of our business, there are many transactions and calculations where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. We regularly are under audit by tax authorities. Economic and political pressures to increase tax revenues in various jurisdictions may make resolving tax disputes more difficult. Although we believe our tax estimates are reasonable, the final determination of tax audits and any related litigation could be materially different from our historical income tax provisions and accruals. The results of an audit or litigation could have a material effect on our financial statements in the period or periods for which that determination is made.

We earn a significant amount of our operating income from outside the U.S., and any repatriation of funds currently held in foreign jurisdictions to the U.S. may result in higher effective tax rates for the company. In addition, there have been proposals from Congress to change U.S. tax laws that would significantly impact how U.S. multinational corporations are taxed on foreign earnings. Although we cannot predict whether or in what form any proposed legislation may pass, if enacted it could have a material adverse impact on our tax expense and cash flows.

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