Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)


12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2017
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Nature of Operations
Nature of Operations.  We collect, organize and manage various types of financial, demographic, employment and marketing information. Our products and services enable businesses to make credit and service decisions, manage their portfolio risk, automate or outsource certain payroll-related, tax and human resources business processes, and develop marketing strategies concerning consumers and commercial enterprises. We serve customers across a wide range of industries, including the financial services, mortgage, retail, telecommunications, utilities, automotive, brokerage, healthcare and insurance industries, as well as government agencies. We also enable consumers to manage and protect their financial health through a portfolio of products offered directly to consumers. As of December 31, 2017, we operated in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, or U.K., Uruguay, and the United States of America, or U.S. We also offer Equifax branded credit services in India and Russia through joint ventures, we have investments in consumer and/or commercial credit information companies through joint ventures in Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai, and have an investment in a consumer and commercial credit information company in Brazil.
We develop, maintain and enhance secured proprietary information databases through the compilation of consumer specific data, including credit, income, employment, asset, liquidity, net worth and spending activity, and business data, including credit and business demographics, that we obtain from a variety of sources, such as credit granting institutions, and income and tax information primarily from large to mid-sized companies in the U.S. We process this information utilizing our proprietary information management systems. We also provide information, technology and services to support debt collections and recovery management.
Basis of Consolidation
Basis of Consolidation.  Our Consolidated Financial Statements and the accompanying notes, which are prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, include Equifax and all its subsidiaries. We consolidate all majority-owned and controlled subsidiaries as well as variable interest entities in which we are the primary beneficiary. Other parties’ interests in consolidated entities are reported as noncontrolling interests. We use the equity method of accounting for investments in which we are able to exercise significant influence and use the cost method for all other investments. All intercompany transactions and balances are eliminated.
Our Consolidated Financial Statements reflect all adjustments which are, in the opinion of management, necessary for a fair presentation of the periods presented therein.
Segments.  We manage our business and report our financial results through the following four reportable segments, which are our operating segments:
U.S. Information Solutions, or USIS


Workforce Solutions

Global Consumer Solutions
USIS is our largest reportable segment, with 37% of total operating revenue for 2017. Our most significant foreign operations are located in Australia, the U.K. and Canada.
Use of Estimates
Use of Estimates.  The preparation of our Consolidated Financial Statements requires us to make estimates and assumptions in accordance with GAAP. Accordingly, we make these estimates and assumptions after exercising judgment. We believe that the estimates and assumptions inherent in our Consolidated Financial Statements are reasonable, based upon information available to us at the time they are made including the consideration of events that have occurred up until the point these Consolidated Financial Statements have been filed. These estimates and assumptions affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements, as well as reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ materially from these estimates.
Revenue Recognition and Deferred Revenue
Revenue Recognition and Deferred Revenue.  Revenue is recognized when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, collectibility of arrangement consideration is reasonably assured, the arrangement fees are fixed or determinable and delivery of the product or service has been completed. A significant portion of our revenue is derived from the provision of information services to our customers on a transaction basis, in which case revenue is recognized, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met, when the services are provided. A smaller portion of our revenues relates to subscription-based contracts under which a customer pays a preset fee for a predetermined or unlimited number of transactions or services provided during the subscription period, generally one year. Revenue related to subscription-based contracts having a preset number of transactions is recognized as the services are provided, using an effective transaction rate as the actual transactions are completed. Any remaining revenue related to unfulfilled units is not recognized until the end of the related contract’s subscription period. Revenue related to subscription-based contracts having an unlimited volume is recognized ratably during the contract term. Revenue is recorded net of sales taxes.
If at the outset of an arrangement, we determine that collectibility is not reasonably assured, revenue is deferred until the earlier of when collectibility becomes probable or the receipt of payment. If there is uncertainty as to the customer’s acceptance of our deliverables, revenue is not recognized until the earlier of receipt of customer acceptance or expiration of the acceptance period. If at the outset of an arrangement, we determine that the arrangement fee is not fixed or determinable, revenue is deferred until the arrangement fee becomes fixed or determinable, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria have been met.
The determination of certain of our tax management services revenue requires the use of estimates, principally related to transaction volumes in instances where these volumes are reported to us by our clients on a monthly basis in arrears. In these instances, we estimate transaction volumes based on average actual volumes reported in the past. Differences between our estimates and actual final volumes reported are recorded in the period in which actual volumes are reported. We have not experienced significant variances between our estimates and actual reported volumes in the past. We monitor actual volumes to ensure that we will continue to make reasonable estimates in the future. If we determine that we are unable to make reasonable future estimates, revenue may be deferred until actual customer data is obtained. Also within our Workforce Solutions operating segment, the fees for certain of our tax credits and incentives revenue are based on a portion of the credit delivered to our clients. Revenue for these arrangements is recognized based on the achievement of milestones, upon calculation of the credit, or when the credit is utilized by our client, depending on the provisions of the client contract.
We have certain offerings that are sold as multiple element arrangements. The multiple elements may include consumer or commercial information, file updates for certain solutions, services provided by our decisioning technologies personnel, training services, statistical models and other services. To account for each of these elements separately, the delivered elements must have stand-alone value to our customer. For certain customer contracts, the total arrangement fee is allocated to the undelivered elements. If we are unable to unbundle the arrangement into separate units of accounting, we apply one of the accounting policies described above. This may lead to the arrangement consideration being recognized as the final contract element is delivered to our customer or ratably over the contract.
Many of our multiple element arrangements involve the delivery of services generated by a combination of services provided by one or more of our operating segments. No individual information service impacts the value or usage of other information services included in an arrangement and each service can be sold alone or, in most cases, purchased from another vendor without affecting the quality of use or value to the customer of the other information services included in the arrangement. Some of our products require the development of interfaces or platforms by our decisioning technologies personnel that allow our customers to interact with our proprietary information databases. These development services do not meet the requirement for having stand-alone value, thus any related development fees are deferred when billed and are recognized over the expected period that the customer will benefit from the related decisioning technologies service. Revenue from the provision of statistical models is recognized as the service is provided and accepted, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met. The direct costs of set up of a customer are capitalized and amortized as a cost of service during the term of the related customer contract.
We have some multiple element arrangements that include software. We recognize the elements for which we have established vendor specific objective evidence at fair value upon delivery, in accordance with the applicable guidance.
We record revenue on a net basis for those sales in which we have in substance acted as an agent or broker in the transaction.

The debt collections and recovery management revenue is calculated as a percentage of debt collected on behalf of the customer and, as such, is primarily recognized when the cash is collected assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met.
Deferred revenue consists of amounts billed in excess of revenue recognized on sales of our information services relating generally to the deferral of subscription fees and arrangement consideration from elements not meeting the criteria for having stand-alone value discussed above. Deferred revenues are subsequently recognized as revenue in accordance with our revenue recognition policies.
Cost of Services
Cost of Services.  Cost of services consist primarily of (1) data acquisition and royalty fees; (2) customer service costs, which include: personnel costs to collect, maintain and update our proprietary databases, to develop and maintain software application platforms and to provide consumer and customer call center support; (3) hardware and software expense associated with transaction processing systems; (4) telecommunication and computer network expense; and (5) occupancy costs associated with facilities where these functions are performed by Equifax employees.
Selling, General and Administrative Expenses
Selling, General and Administrative Expenses.  Selling, general and administrative expenses consist primarily of personnel-related costs, restructuring costs, corporate costs, fees for professional and consulting services, advertising costs, and other costs of administration.
Advertising.  Advertising costs, which are expensed as incurred, totaled $54.6 million, $63.6 million and $65.1 million during 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Stock-Based Compensation
Stock-Based Compensation.  We recognize the cost of stock-based payment transactions in the financial statements over the period services are rendered according to the fair value of the stock-based awards issued. All of our stock-based awards, which are stock options and nonvested stock, are classified as equity instruments.
Income Taxes
Income Taxes.  We account for income taxes under the liability method. We record deferred income taxes using enacted tax laws and rates for the years in which the taxes are expected to be paid. Deferred income tax assets and liabilities are recorded based on the differences between the financial reporting and income tax bases of assets and liabilities. We assess whether it is more likely than not that we will generate sufficient taxable income to realize our deferred tax assets. We record a valuation allowance, as necessary, to reduce our deferred tax assets to the amount of future tax benefit that we estimate is more likely than not to be realized.
We record tax benefits for positions that we believe are more likely than not of being sustained under audit examinations. We assess the potential outcome of such examinations to determine the adequacy of our income tax accruals. We recognize interest and penalties accrued related to unrecognized tax benefits in the provision for income taxes on our Consolidated Statements of Income. We adjust our income tax provision during the period in which we determine that the actual results of the examinations may differ from our estimates or when statutory terms expire. Changes in tax laws and rates are reflected in our income tax provision in the period in which they occur.
Earnings Per Share
Earnings Per Share.  Our basic earnings per share, or EPS, is calculated as net income divided by the weighted-average number of common shares outstanding during the reporting period. Diluted EPS is calculated to reflect the potential dilution that would occur if stock options or other contracts to issue common stock were exercised and resulted in additional common shares outstanding. The net income amounts used in both our basic and diluted EPS calculations are the same.
Accelerated Share Repurchase Program
Accelerated Share Repurchase Program. On October 24, 2014, we entered into an accelerated share repurchase (“ASR”) program to repurchase shares of our common stock under our approved share repurchase program. Under the ASR program, the number of shares to be repurchased is based generally on the daily volume weighted average price of our common stock during the term of the ASR program. On October 24, 2014, we paid $115 million in exchange for an initial delivery of 1.4 million shares to us, subject to a 10%, or $11.5 million, holdback. The maximum number of shares to be received or delivered under the contracts was 3.2 million.

The ASR program was accounted for as an initial treasury stock transaction and a forward stock purchase contract. The initial repurchase of shares resulted in an immediate reduction of the outstanding shares used to calculate the weighted-average common shares outstanding for basic and diluted net income per share on the effective date of the agreement. The forward stock purchase contracts are classified as equity instruments under ASC 815-40 for “Contracts in Entity's Own Equity,” and were deemed to have a fair value of zero at the effective date.
Cash Equivalents
Cash Equivalents.  We consider all highly-liquid investments with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash equivalents.
Trade Accounts Receivable and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
Trade Accounts Receivable and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts.  We do not recognize interest income on our trade accounts receivable. Additionally, we generally do not require collateral from our customers related to our trade accounts receivable. Accounts receivable are stated at cost.
The allowance for doubtful accounts for estimated losses on trade accounts receivable is based on historical write-off experience, an analysis of the aging of outstanding receivables, customer payment patterns and the establishment of specific reserves for customers in an adverse financial condition. We reassess the adequacy of the allowance for doubtful accounts each reporting period. Increases to the allowance for doubtful accounts are recorded as bad debt expense, which are included in selling, general and administrative expenses on the accompanying Consolidated Statements of Income.
Other Current Assets
Other Current Assets.  Other current assets on our Consolidated Balance Sheets include certain current tax receivable accounts. As of December 31, 2017 and 2016 these assets were approximately $54.2 million and $10.9 million, respectively. Other current assets also includes an insurance receivable for costs incurred to date related to the cybersecurity incident that are reimbursable and probable of recovery under our insurance coverage. As of December 31, 2017, the Company has recorded a receivable of $35.0 million. For additional information, see Note 6. Other current assets also include amounts in specifically designated accounts that hold the funds that are due to customers from our debt collection and recovery management services. As of December 31, 2017 and 2016 these assets were approximately $21.4 million and $28.0 million, respectively, with fully offsetting balances in other current liabilities. These amounts are restricted as to their current use, and will be released according to the specific customer agreements. Other current assets also include foreign currency options, receivables related to life insurance policies covering certain officers of the Company, as well as deferred charges.
Long-Lived Assets
Long-Lived Assets.  Property and equipment are stated at cost less accumulated depreciation and amortization. The cost of additions is capitalized. Property and equipment are depreciated on a straight-line basis over the assets’ estimated useful lives, which are generally three to ten years for data processing equipment and capitalized internal-use software and systems costs. Leasehold improvements are depreciated over the shorter of their estimated useful lives or lease terms that are reasonably assured. Buildings are depreciated over a forty-year period. Other fixed assets are depreciated over three to seven years. Upon sale or retirement of an asset, the related costs and accumulated depreciation are removed from the accounts and any gain or loss is recognized and included in income from operations on the Consolidated Statements of Income, with the classification of any gain or loss dependent on the characteristics of the asset sold or retired.
Certain internal-use software and system development costs are capitalized. Accordingly, the specifically identified costs incurred to develop or obtain software, which is intended for internal use, are not capitalized until the determination is made as to the availability of a technically feasible solution to solve the predefined user and operating performance requirements as established during the preliminary stage of an internal-use software development project. Costs incurred during a software development project’s preliminary stage and post-implementation stage are expensed as incurred. Application development activities that are eligible for capitalization include software design and configuration, development of interfaces, coding, testing, and installation. Capitalized internal-use software and systems costs are subsequently amortized on a straight-line basis over a three- to ten-year period after project completion and when the related software or system is ready for its intended use.
Depreciation and amortization expense related to property and equipment was $115.6 million, $88.9 million and $75.7 million during the twelve months ended December 31, 2017, 2016, and 2015, respectively.
Industrial Revenue Bonds.  Pursuant to the terms of certain industrial revenue bonds, we have transferred title to certain of our fixed assets with total costs of $156.4 million and $117.0 million as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively, to a local governmental authority in the U.S. to receive a property tax abatement related to economic development. The title to these assets will revert back to us upon retirement or cancellation of the applicable bonds. These fixed assets are still recognized in the Company’s Consolidated Balance Sheets as all risks and rewards remain with the Company.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets.  We monitor the status of our long-lived assets in order to determine if conditions exist or events and circumstances indicate that an asset group may be impaired in that its carrying amount may not be recoverable. Significant factors that are considered that could be indicative of impairment include: changes in business strategy, market conditions or the manner in which an asset group is used; underperformance relative to historical or expected future operating results; and negative industry or economic trends. If potential indicators of impairment exist, we estimate recoverability based on the asset group’s ability to generate cash flows greater than the carrying value of the asset group. We estimate the undiscounted future cash flows arising from the use and eventual disposition of the related long-lived asset group. If the carrying value of the long-lived asset group exceeds the estimated future undiscounted cash flows, an impairment loss is recorded based on the amount by which the asset group’s carrying amount exceeds its fair value. We utilize estimates of discounted future cash flows to determine the asset group’s fair value. We did not record any impairment losses of long-lived assets in any of the periods presented.
Goodwill and Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets
Goodwill and Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets.  Goodwill represents the cost in excess of the fair value of the net assets of acquired businesses. Goodwill is not amortized. We are required to test goodwill for impairment at the reporting unit level on an annual basis and on an interim basis if an event occurs or circumstances change that would more likely than not reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying value. We perform our annual goodwill impairment test as of September 30 each year.
Under ASC 350, we have an option to perform a “qualitative” assessment of our reporting units to determine whether further impairment testing is necessary. If an entity believes, as a result of its qualitative assessment, that it is more-likely-than-not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, the quantitative impairment test is required. Otherwise, no further testing is required. For reporting units that we determine meet these criteria, we perform a qualitative assessment. In this qualitative assessment, we consider the following items for each of the reporting units: macroeconomic conditions, industry and market conditions, overall financial performance and other entity specific events. In addition, for each of these reporting units, we assess whether the most recent fair value determination results in an amount that exceeds the carrying amount of the reporting units. Based on these assessments, we determine whether the likelihood that a current fair value determination would be less than the current carrying amount of the reporting unit is not more likely than not. If it is determined it is not more likely than not, no further testing is required. If further testing is required, we continue with the quantitative impairment test.
In analyzing goodwill for potential impairment in the quantitative impairment test, we use a combination of the income and market approaches to estimate the reporting unit’s fair value. Under the income approach, we calculate the fair value of a reporting unit based on estimated future discounted cash flows. The assumptions we use are based on what we believe a hypothetical marketplace participant would use in estimating fair value. Under the market approach, we estimate the fair value based on market multiples of revenue or earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization for benchmark companies. If the fair value of a reporting unit exceeds its carrying value, then no further testing is required. However, if a reporting unit’s fair value were to be less than its carrying value, we would then determine the amount of the impairment charge, if any, which would be the amount that the carrying value of the reporting unit’s goodwill exceeded its implied value.
Indefinite-lived reacquired rights represent the value of rights which we had granted to various affiliate credit reporting agencies that were reacquired in the U.S. and Canada. A portion of our reacquired rights are perpetual in nature and, therefore, the useful lives are considered indefinite in accordance with the accounting guidance in place at the time of the acquisitions. Indefinite-lived intangible assets are not amortized. We are required to test indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment annually and whenever events and circumstances indicate that there may be an impairment of the asset value. Our annual impairment test date is September 30. We perform the impairment test for our indefinite-lived intangible assets by first assessing qualitative factors to determine whether it is necessary to perform a quantitative impairment test. If the qualitative assessment indicates that we need to perform a quantitative impairment test, we compare the asset’s fair value to its carrying value. We estimate the fair value based on projected discounted future cash flows. An impairment charge is recognized if the asset’s estimated fair value is less than its carrying value.
Purchased Intangible Assets
Purchased Intangible Assets.  Purchased intangible assets represent the estimated fair value of acquired intangible assets used in our business. Purchased data files represent the estimated fair value of consumer credit files acquired primarily through the purchase of independent credit reporting agencies in the U.S. and Canada. We expense the cost of modifying and updating credit files in the period such costs are incurred. We amortize purchased data files, which primarily consist of acquired credit files, on a straight-line basis. All of our other purchased intangible assets are also amortized on a straight-line basis.
Useful Life
(In years)
Purchased data files
2 to 15
Acquired software and technology
1 to 10
Non-compete agreements
1 to 5
Proprietary database
6 to 10
Customer relationships
2 to 25
Trade names
1 to 15
Additionally, included in intangible assets are reacquired rights that represent the value of rights which we had granted to Computer Sciences Corporation that were reacquired in connection with the acquisition of CSC Credit Services in the fourth quarter of 2012 based on the accounting guidance in place at that time. These reacquired rights are being amortized over the remaining term of the affiliation agreement on a straight-line basis until August 1, 2018.
Other Assets
Other Assets. Other assets on our Consolidated Balance Sheets primarily represents our equity investment in unconsolidated affiliates, our cost method investment in Boa Vista Servicos (“BVS”), assets related to life insurance policies covering certain officers of the Company, and employee benefit trust assets.

Impairment of Cost Method Investment. We monitor the status of our cost method investment in order to determine if conditions exist or events and circumstances indicate that it may be impaired in that its carrying amount may exceed the fair value of the investment. Significant factors that are considered that could be indicative of an impairment include: changes in business strategy, market conditions, underperformance relative to historical or expected future operating results; and negative industry or economic trends. If potential indicators of impairment exist, we estimate the fair value of the investment using a combination of a discounted cash flow analysis and an evaluation of EBITDA and transaction multiples for comparable companies. If the carrying value of the investment exceeds the estimated fair value, an impairment loss is recorded based on the amount by which the investment’s carrying amount exceeds its fair value. There were no indicators of impairment for 2016 or 2017. We recorded an impairment of our cost method investment in 2015. See Note 2 for further discussion.
Other Current Liabilities
Other Current Liabilities.  Other current liabilities on our Consolidated Balance Sheets consist of the offset to other current assets related to amounts in specifically designated accounts that hold the funds that are due to customers from our debt collection and recovery management services. These funds were approximately $21.4 million and $28.0 million as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively. These amounts are restricted as to their current use and will be released according to the specific customer agreements. Other current liabilities also include various accrued expenses such as costs related to the cybersecurity incident as described more fully in Note 6, interest expense, accrued employee benefits, accrued taxes, accrued payroll, and accrued legal expenses.

Benefit Plans
Benefit Plans.  We sponsor various pension and defined contribution plans. We also maintain certain healthcare and life insurance benefit plans for eligible retired U.S. employees. Benefits under the pension and other postretirement benefit plans are generally based on age at retirement and years of service and for some pension plans, benefits are also based on the employee’s annual earnings. The net periodic cost of our pension and other postretirement plans is determined using several actuarial assumptions, the most significant of which are the discount rate and the expected return on plan assets. The expected rate of return on plan assets is based on both our historical returns and forecasted future investment returns by asset class, as provided by our external investment advisor. Annual differences, if any, between the expected and actual returns on plan assets are included in unrecognized net actuarial gain or loss, a component of other comprehensive income. In calculating the annual amortization of the unrecognized net actuarial gain or loss, we use a market-related value of assets that smooths actual investment gains and losses on plan assets over a period up to five years. The resulting unrecognized net actuarial gain or loss amount is recognized in net periodic pension expense over the average remaining life expectancy of the participant group since almost all participants are inactive. Our Consolidated Balance Sheets reflect the funded status of the pension and other postretirement plans.
Foreign Currency Translation
Foreign Currency Translation.  The functional currency of each of our foreign operating subsidiaries is that subsidiary’s local currency. We translate the assets and liabilities of foreign subsidiaries at the year-end rate of exchange and revenue and expenses at the monthly average rates during the year. We record the resulting translation adjustment in other comprehensive loss, included in accumulated other comprehensive loss, a component of shareholders’ equity. We also record gains and losses resulting from the translation of intercompany balances of a long-term investment nature in foreign currency translation in other comprehensive loss and accumulated other comprehensive loss.
Financial Instruments
Financial Instruments.  Our financial instruments consist primarily of cash and cash equivalents, accounts and notes receivable, accounts payable and short and long-term debt. The carrying amounts of these items, other than long-term debt, approximate their fair market values due to the short-term nature of these instruments. The fair value of our fixed-rate debt is determined using Level 2 inputs such as quoted market prices for publicly traded instruments, and for non-publicly traded instruments through valuation techniques depending on the specific characteristics of the debt instrument, taking into account credit risk.
Derivatives and Hedging Activities
Derivatives and Hedging Activities.  Although derivative financial instruments are not utilized for speculative purposes or as the Company’s primary risk management tool, derivatives have been used as a risk management tool to hedge the Company’s exposure to changes in interest rates and foreign exchange rates. We have used interest rate swaps and interest rate lock agreements to manage interest rate risk associated with our fixed and floating-rate borrowings. Forward contracts on various foreign currencies have been used to manage the foreign currency exchange rate risk of certain firm commitments denominated in foreign currencies. We recognize all derivatives on the balance sheet at fair value. Derivative valuations reflect the value of the instrument including the value associated with any material counterparty risk.
Economic Hedges.   In December 2015, in anticipation of the acquisition of Veda Group Limited ("Veda"), we purchased foreign currency options to buy Australian dollars with a weighted average strike price of $0.7225 and a notional value of 1.0 billion Australian dollars. These foreign currency options ("options") were designed to act as economic hedges for the pending Veda acquisition and were marked to market. The options had an expiry date of February 18, 2016. We recorded a mark-to-market gain on the options of $4.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2015, which was recorded in other income (expense), net. In January 2016, we purchased additional options for a notional amount of 1.0 billion Australian dollars, with a weighted average strike price of $0.7091, with expiry dates of February 11, 2016 and February 16, 2016. We settled all of the options on the respective settlement dates in February 2016. We recognized a net loss of $15.4 million related to the options in the first quarter of 2016, which was recorded in other income (expense), net.

Cash Flow Hedges.  Changes in the fair value of highly effective derivatives designated as cash flow hedges are initially recorded in accumulated other comprehensive income and are reclassified into the line item in the Consolidated Statements of Income in which the hedged item is recorded in the same period the hedged item impacts earnings. Any ineffective portion is recorded in current period earnings.
Fair Value Measurements
Fair Value Measurements.  Fair value is determined based on the assumptions marketplace participants use in pricing the asset or liability. We use a three level fair value hierarchy to prioritize the inputs used in valuation techniques between observable inputs that reflect quoted prices in active markets, inputs other than quoted prices with observable market data and unobservable data (e.g., a company’s own data).
The following table presents assets and liabilities measured at fair value on a recurring basis:

Fair Value Measurements at Reporting Date Using:
Fair Value at December 31, 2017
Quoted Prices in Active Markets for Identical Assets (Level 1)
Significant Other Observable Inputs (Level 2)
Significant Unobservable Inputs (Level 3)
(In millions)
Assets and Liabilities:




Deferred Compensation Plan Assets




Deferred Compensation Plan Liability


Total assets and liabilities




We maintain deferred compensation plans that allow for certain management employees to defer the receipt of compensation (such as salary, incentive compensation and commissions) until a later date based on the terms of the plans. The liability representing benefits accrued for plan participants is valued at the quoted market prices of the participants’ investment elections. The asset consists of mutual funds reflective of the participants investment selections and is valued at daily quoted market prices.

Assets and Liabilities Measured at Fair Value on a Nonrecurring Basis. As disclosed in Note 3, we completed various acquisitions during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016. The values of net assets acquired and the resulting goodwill were recorded at fair value using Level 3 inputs. The majority of the related current assets acquired and liabilities assumed were recorded at their carrying values as of the date of acquisition, as their carrying values approximated their fair values due to their short-term nature. The fair values of goodwill and definite-lived intangible assets acquired in these acquisitions were internally estimated primarily based on the income approach. The income approach estimates fair value based on the present value of the cash flows that the assets are expected to generate in the future. We developed internal estimates for the expected cash flows and discount rates in the present value calculations. The fair value of the equity method investment assets acquired were internally estimated based on the market approach. Under the market approach, we estimated fair value based on market multiples of comparable companies.

Variable Interest Entities
Variable Interest Entities.  We hold interests in certain entities, including credit data, information solutions and debt collections and recovery management ventures, that are considered variable interest entities, or VIEs. These variable interests relate to ownership interests that require financial support for these entities. Our investments related to these VIEs totaled $13.8 million at December 31, 2017, representing our maximum exposure to loss, with the exception of the guarantees referenced in Note 6. We are not the primary beneficiary and are not required to consolidate any of these VIEs, with the exception of a debt collections and recovery management venture, for which we meet the consolidation criteria under ASC 810. In regards to that consolidated VIE, we have a 75% equity ownership interest and control of the activities that most significantly impact the VIE's economic performance. The assets and liabilities of the VIE for which we are the primary beneficiary were not significant to the Company’s consolidated financial statements, and no gain or loss was recognized because of its consolidation.

In evaluating whether we have the power to direct the activities of a VIE that most significantly impact its economic performance, we consider the purpose for which the VIE was created, the importance of each of the activities in which it is engaged and our decision-making role, if any, in those activities that significantly determine the entity's economic performance as compared to other economic interest holders. This evaluation requires consideration of all facts and circumstances relevant to decision-making that affects the entity's future performance and the exercise of professional judgment in deciding which decision-making rights are most important.

In determining whether we have the right to receive benefits or the obligation to absorb losses that could potentially be significant to the VIE, we evaluate all of our economic interests in the entity, regardless of form (debt, equity, management and servicing fees, and other contractual arrangements). This evaluation considers all relevant factors of the entity's design, including: the entity's capital structure, contractual rights to earnings (losses), subordination of our interests relative to those of other investors, contingent payments, as well as other contractual arrangements that have the potential to be economically significant. The evaluation of each of these factors in reaching a conclusion about the potential significance of our economic interests is a matter that requires the exercise of professional judgment.
Certain of our VIEs have redeemable noncontrolling interests that are subject to classification outside of permanent equity on the Company's Consolidated Balance Sheet. The redeemable noncontrolling interests are reflected using the redemption method as of the balance sheet date. Redeemable noncontrolling interest adjustments to the redemption values are reflected in retained earnings. The adjustment of redemption value at the period end that reflects a redemption value in excess of fair value is included as an adjustment to net income attributable to Equifax stockholders for the purposes of the calculation of earnings per share. None of the current period adjustments reflect a redemption in excess of fair value. Additionally, due to the immaterial balance of the redeemable noncontrolling interest, we have elected to maintain the noncontrolling interest in permanent equity, rather than temporary equity, within our Consolidated Balance Sheet.

Change in Accounting Principle
Change in Accounting Principle. In March 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued ASU 2016-09 "Compensation - Stock Compensation (Topic 718)." This standard requires the recognition of the income tax effects of awards in the income statement when the awards vest or are settled, thus eliminating additional paid-in capital pools. The guidance also allows for the employer to repurchase more of an employee’s shares for tax withholding purposes without triggering liability accounting. The new guidance requires the related payments to taxing authorities to be retrospectively presented as a cash outflow from financing activities. As a result, we reclassified $27.2 million and $27.0 million of cash outflows from operating activities for the years ended 2016 and 2015, respectively, to a cash outflow from financing activities. In addition, the guidance allows for a policy election to account for forfeitures as they occur rather than on an estimated basis. The adoption of this guidance resulted in the recognition of $26.7 million and $0.22 per diluted common share, of tax benefits in our Consolidated Statement of Income for the year ended December 31, 2017. We also prospectively applied the provisions of the new guidance related to the presentation of windfall tax benefits as cash flows from operating activities which resulted in classifying $26.7 million of cash flows from financing activities to operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2017. We have elected to continue to estimate forfeitures expected to occur to determine the amount of compensation cost to be recognized each period.

In February 2018, the FASB issued ASU 2018-02, "Reclassification of Certain Tax Effects from Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Topic 220)." The guidance provides companies the option to eliminate the stranded tax effects associated with the change in the federal corporate income tax rate in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The guidance is effective for annual periods beginning after December 31, 2018, with early adoption permitted for reporting periods for which financial statements have not been issued and can be applied retrospectively. As such, we have adopted this guidance as of December 31, 2017 resulting in the reclassification of $50.0 million from accumulated other comprehensive income to retained earnings related to the change in tax rate, as proscribed in the guidance.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Recent Accounting Pronouncements.    Derivatives and Hedging. In August 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-12, “Targeted Improvements to Accounting for Hedging Activities (Topic 815).” The amendments in ASU 2017-12 provide targeted improvements to the accounting for hedging activities to better align an entity’s risk management activities and financial reporting for hedging relationships through changes to both the designation and measurement guidance for qualifying hedging relationships and the presentation of hedge results. The adoption of ASU 2017-12 will become effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2018, although early adoption is permitted. This guidance must be applied on a prospective basis. We do not expect the adoption of this ASU will have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Stock Compensation. In May 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-09, "Compensation - Stock Compensation (Topic 718) Scope of Modification Accounting." The amendments in ASU 2017-09 require entities to apply modification accounting in Topic 718 only when changes to the terms or conditions of a share-based payment award result in changes to fair value, vesting conditions or the classification of the award as equity or liability. The adoption of ASU 2017-09 will become effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017. Based on historical modifications we do not believe the adoption of this guidance will have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Pension Costs. In March 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-07 "Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Cost and Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost (Topic 715)." This new guidance changes how employers that sponsor defined benefit pension plans and other postretirement plans present the net periodic benefit cost in the income statement. An employer is required to report the service cost component in the same line item or items as other compensation costs arising from services rendered by the pertinent employees during the period. Other components of net benefit cost are required to be presented in the income statement separately from the service cost component and outside a subtotal of income from operations, if one is presented. The amendment also allows only the service cost component to be eligible for capitalization, when applicable. This new guidance will be effective for the Company for the first reporting period beginning after December 15, 2017, with early adoption permitted in the first quarter of 2017. The amendment will be applied retrospectively for the presentation requirements and prospectively for the capitalization of the service cost component requirements. We do not expect the adoption of this guidance to have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Goodwill. In January 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-04 "Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment (Topic 350)." This standard eliminates Step 2 from the goodwill impairment test, instead requiring an entity to recognize a goodwill impairment charge for the amount by which the goodwill carrying amount exceeds the reporting unit’s fair value. This guidance is effective for interim and annual goodwill impairment tests in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019 with early adoption permitted. This guidance must be applied on a prospective basis. We do not expect the adoption of this guidance to have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.

Definition of a business. In January 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-01 "Clarifying the Definition of a Business (Topic 805)." This standard provides criteria to determine when an asset acquired or group of assets acquired is not a business. When substantially all of the fair value of the gross assets acquired (or disposed of) is concentrated in a single identifiable asset or a group of similar identifiable assets, the set is not a business. This reduces the number of transactions that need to be further evaluated. The guidance is effective for interim and annual reporting periods in fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017 with early adoption permitted.  We are currently evaluating the impact of the adoption of this guidance on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
Statement of Cash Flows. In August 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-15 "Classification of Certain Cash Receipts and Cash Payments (Topic 230)." This standard provides guidance for eight targeted changes with respect to how cash receipts and cash payments are classified in the statements of cash flows, with the objective of reducing diversity in practice. The guidance is effective in 2018 with early adoption permitted. The Company elected to early adopt this accounting standard which did not have a material impact on its Consolidated Financial Statements.

Equity method investments. In March 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-07 "Investments - Equity Method and Joint Ventures (Topic 323)." This standard eliminates the requirement that an investor retrospectively apply equity method accounting when an investment that it had accounted for by another method initially qualifies for the equity method. The guidance requires that an equity method investor add the cost of acquiring the additional interest in the investee to the current basis of the investor’s previously held interest and adopt the equity method of accounting as of the date the investment becomes qualified for equity method accounting. The guidance is effective in 2017 with early adoption permitted. The guidance did not have a material impact on our Consolidated Financial Statements.

Leases. In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-02 “Leases (Topic 842).” This standard requires lessees to put most leases on their balance sheets but recognize expenses on their income statements in a manner similar to current lease accounting. The guidance also eliminates current real estate-specific provisions for all entities. For lessors, the guidance modifies the classification criteria and the accounting for sales-type and direct financing leases. All entities will classify leases to determine how to recognize lease-related revenue and expense. The guidance becomes effective for fiscal years and interim reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018 with early adoption permitted and will require recognizing and measuring leases at the beginning of the earliest period presented using a modified retrospective approach. The Company is evaluating the potential effects of the adoption of this standard on its Consolidated Financial Statements.

Financial Instruments-Overall: Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities. In January 2016, the FASB issued ASU 2016-01 "Financial Instruments-Overall (Subtopic 825-10): Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities." The guidance will require equity investments in unconsolidated entities (other than those accounted for using the equity method of accounting) to be measured at fair value with changes in fair
value recognized in net income. The amendments in this update will also simplify the impairment assessment of equity investments without readily determinable fair values by requiring a qualitative assessment to identify impairment, eliminate the requirement for public business entities to disclose the method and significant assumptions used to estimate the fair value that is required to be disclosed for financial instruments measured at amortized cost on the balance sheet and require these entities to use the exit price notion when measuring fair value of financial instruments for disclosure purposes. This guidance also changes the presentation and disclosure requirements for financial instruments as well as clarifying the guidance related to valuation allowance assessments when recognizing deferred tax assets resulting from unrealized losses on available-for-sale debt securities. The guidance becomes effective for fiscal years and interim reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018 with early adoption permitted for financial statements of fiscal years and interim periods that have not been issued. The guidance will impact our cost method investment in BVS, more fully described in Note 2, which we have concluded does not have a readily determinable fair value. This investment will be adjusted through net income prospectively, upon adoption of the new guidance, for any observable price changes for an identical or similar investment of the same issuer or for any impairments.

Revenue Recognition. In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU No. 2014-9, "Revenue from Contracts with Customers." ASU 2014-9 is a comprehensive new revenue recognition model that requires a company to recognize revenue to depict the transfer of goods or services to a customer at an amount that reflects the consideration it expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. ASU 2014-9 also requires additional disclosure about the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from customer contracts, including significant judgments and changes in judgments and assets recognized from costs incurred to obtain or fulfill a contract. ASU 2014-9 was originally effective for annual reporting periods, and interim periods within that period, beginning after December 15, 2016 and early adoption was not permitted. On July 9, 2015, the FASB voted to defer the effective date by one year to December 15, 2017 for interim and annual reporting periods beginning after that date and permitted early adoption of the standard, but not before the original effective date of December 15, 2016. Companies may use either a full retrospective or a modified retrospective approach to adopt ASU 2014-9.

Based on our assessment, we will adopt the standard using the modified retrospective method in the first quarter of fiscal 2018. The new standard will impact our contracts that have a known quantity over a defined term with price increases or decreases over the contract life. Under the current standard, the revenue related to these contracts are limited by billings in a period. Under the new standard the total contract value will be recognized ratably over the defined term or by using a transactional standalone selling price resulting in the creation of a contract asset or contract liability as transactions are delivered. Based upon analysis performed, we have determined that the revenue recognition aspects of the new standard will not materially affect our consolidated revenue, consolidated net earnings, financial position, or cash flows based on the application of the guidance to our contracts with customers. Additionally, the new guidance specifies that all incremental costs of obtaining a contract and the direct costs of fulfilling a contract with customers should be deferred and recognized over the contract period or expected customer life. Based on our assessment, there will not be a significant change in our cost capitalization practices resulting from the application of the guidance. Finally, we have assessed the additional disclosure requirements related to the new standard and note that there will be changes in the presentation of our revenue recognition disclosures beginning in the first quarter of 2018. These changes include the presentation of disaggregated revenue, discussion of revenue recognition policies, the disclosure of contract asset and contract liability accounts as well as disclosures around the remaining performance obligations for those contracts impacted by the new standard.