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Indiana Now Requires Encrypted File Transfer for Alcohol Reports

No one disputes that applying new technology to the process of complying with state liquor regulations is long overdue. However, the new eFile requirements for Indiana excise taxes and shipping reports demonstrates that instituting new digital processes can be challenging. GenericFeatureBubble_compliance

The New Law

Beginning with the October filings (due in November), Indiana will require alcohol excise taxes to file reports and submit tax payments electronically. This applies to Direct-To-Consumer as well as wholesale reporting.

  • If you are reporting more than 50 transactions in a reporting period, you must do so via XML file format. If you are reporting less than 50 transactions, you can request to enter each transaction via the Indiana Department of Revenue transaction-by-transaction data entry.
  • Form 726 is now ALC-DWS: Direct Wine Seller’s Excise Tax Return
  • Forms ABP1-B and ABP1-WLare now ALC-PS: Primary Source Suppliers Monthly Report
  • Beginning August 15, 2014, taxpayers must register with INtax and have a 10-digit tax identification (TID) number with a three digit location. You will not need to reregister if you already have a TID.
  • Taxpayers must send PGP-encrypted files when filing.
  • In order to eFile, taxpayers must successfully upload at least two test files without errors. Once two files have been uploaded taxpayers will be able to perform a bulk file upload.
  • More details available on Indiana’s website.
  • ShipCompliant clients will have their tax payments calculated and reports generated in the appropriate XML format. Test uploads will also be available.

 

AutoFile and the ShipCompliant Fix

If this all sounds somewhat complicated, then you have correctly understood the implications of the new eFiling process in Indiana. AutoFile is a great solution for those wineries who would like to have the new reporting process handled automatically. AutoFile will handle all of the testing, encryption, and file transfer requirements on behalf of subscribers, with robust accounting tools and visibility into reports and payments. While we applaud the state of Indiana for updating their reporting process for a digital age, ShipCompliant’s mission is to ease the burden of compliance for all of our clients. In this case, the best way to do just that is to sign up for AutoFile. Plus, your first month of reporting is on us!

Is Massachusetts the Most Important Change Since Granholm?

The opening of Massachusetts for direct shipping is perhaps the most important change to the direct shipping market since the Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision in 2005. We estimate that within three years of opening for direct shipments on January 1, 2015, Massachusetts will easily vault into the top ten states by shipping revenue and represent over $60 million in additional revenue for wineries that ship.

Let us explain.

The value of opening up any given state for direct wine shippers is, we find, related to three primary factors:

1. The state’s population
2. The state’s proximity to an important wine producing state/region
3. Per capita consumption of the state

Massachusetts’ Population
Massachusetts has a population of approximately 6.6 million people, just above the national average of 6 million people per state. It is similar in population size to Tennessee, Indiana, Arizona and Washington State. While not a hugely populated state, it is by no means sparsely populated.

Massachusetts’ Proximity to a Wine Region
Massachusetts has a very small wine industry. However, it borders New York, an important wine producing state and wine tourism venue. This bodes well not just for New York wineries, but it suggests that Massachusetts wine lovers will benefit from easy access to wines they have recently discovered on day trips and weekend excursions.

Per Capita Wine Consumption in Massachusetts
Only five states have a higher per capita wine consumption rate than Massachusetts. At 29 bottles of wine consumed per person annually, Bay Staters consume wine at more than a 50% greater rate than the average state. They like their wine.

Given these factors, and looking at how similar states, in terms of consumption and location, rank in the direct-to-consumer shipping channel, we believe that Massachusetts wine lovers will have wine shipped to them at a significantly higher rate than the average state.

For the overall winery-to-consumer shipping market, 0.213 bottles of wine per capita were shipped in 2013. However, the top 10 winery-to-consumer shipping states averaged 0.276 bottles per capita. We have every reason to believe that Massachusetts will hew closely to this average within three years after the state opens for shipments. In fact, we are confident is saying that by 2018, three years after Massachusetts finally opens for direct shipping, it will generate more than $73 million in wine shipments and rank #7 for value of shipments among all legal states. Sales for DTC By 2023, the value of the Massachusetts direct shipping market will be over $100 million per year.

A number of people and organizations have worked very hard to open up Massachusetts for direct shipping and to give Massachusetts consumers the simple right to buy the domestic wines they desire, especially Coalition for Free Trade, Free the Grapes!, and Wine Institute. Many years, much lobbying, lawsuits, more lobbying, working the media and harnessing the power of the consumer finally brought it about. It’s not only long in coming and a sweet victory for everyone, but also a very profitable victory for wineries across the country.

Direct Shipping To Massachusetts–Finally!

massachusetts blog logo3Eight years after Massachusetts passed an unworkable and overly-restrictive direct shipping bill, and four years since the same law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, Bay State legislators finally passed a workable direct wine shipping law that will allow out-of-state and in-state wineries to ship wine directly to state residents. The new law was included in the 2014 budget bill (see page 257), and was signed by Governor Deval Patrick this morning. Set to go into effect on January 1, 2015, the new wine shipping law will make both wineries and Massachusetts wine lovers overjoyed.

Massachusetts is ranked among the most important states that still had not passed winery direct shipping law. Massachusetts is particularly important given the size of its population and its residents’ love of wine. Only four states have higher per capita consumption rates for wine than Massachusetts.

The new direct shipping law, passed as part of the 2015 fiscal year budget, provides the following conditions for shippers:

  • Only bonded wineries may apply for a direct shipping permit
  • Direct Shipping License Fee: $300/winery (separate permits required for each “affiliate, franchise or subsidiary”)
  • Direct Shipping License Annual Renewal Fee: $150
  • Shipments limited to twelve 9-liter cases per purchaser in a calendar year
  • Reports to the state must be remitted annually
  • Excise Taxes must be remitted on each sale

 

Over the next six months, the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverage Control Commission will be responsible for creating and making available license applications for direct shippers. We will report here on those developments as well as any others that impact direct shippers.

Arkansas Confirms Direct Shippers Only Responsible for Statewide Taxes

As wineries were applying for and beginning to use the new DTC shipping licenses for on-site sales to Arkansas consumers, we learned that some of the staff in the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration were telling holders of direct wine shipper licenses that they were responsible for collecting certain local sales and use taxes. Wine Institute’s local Arkansas counsel has received a legal opinion from the Assistant Commissioner of Revenue, Policy and Legal of the Department of Finance and Administration stating that holders of a wine shipping permit are not required to collect any local taxes. Direct shippers are responsible for collecting and remitting only the statewide sales and excise taxes.

Wineries can register and file reports online through the Arkansas Taxpayer Access Point on the Department’s website at www.arkansas.gov/dfa or manually prepare and mail in the required forms. The state gross receipts (sales) tax rate is 6.5%, in addition to a state liquor excise tax that is 3% of the sales price. Direct shippers are also responsible for paying the $0.75 per gallon wine excise tax and a $.05 wine case excise tax. If the volume of wine being reported is less than one case of wine, round up. Sales and excise taxes must be reported on a monthly basis even if no activity occurred.

Annie Bones, State Relations – Wine Institute

New Mexico Changing Online Tax Filing System

Effective Monday, June 16, 2014, New Mexico went live with their TAP online filing system for Combined Reporting System (CRS) returns. Taxpayers who file the CRS return, regardless of if they currently file paper or electronically, will need to take action to create an account with the new system if they wish to file online. Filers that currently file this return online using the old NM E-Filing Services system please note: your current login and account set up in the older system will not transfer over to the new TAP system; you must register for a new account.

What you need to know about this changeover:

  • If you file by paper for the CRS Return:
    • No action is required, you can continue to file by paper. If you’d like to begin filing online, follow the steps outlined below to get set up with an account. Some tax accounts are required to file online; review this Tax Professionals page for more information.
  • If you efile your CRS Return and have not yet filed for the current reporting period:
    • You must create a TAP account and file this return before July 25, 2014; you will not be able to file using the old system.

To register for a New Mexico TAP account:

  • Go to the New Mexico TAP Website and “Sign Up”
  • Follow the prompts requested by the site; make sure you have:
    • A valid email address. Each TAP profile requires a unique email address.
    • A valid federal ID number such as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
    • Letter ID from correspondence mailed to you within the last 90 days; or Information pertaining to the business account you wish to sign up for

Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you! We are always available at Support@ShipCompliant.com or you can call us during the week at (303) 996-2356.

TTB Formula Ruling is Big Win for Craft Brewers

After years of persistent petitioning from the Brewers Association, TTB has made big revisions to the formula and labeling requirements for beer. Prior to the ruling made on June 5th, 2014, in many cases craft brewers were required to submit a formula for approval as well as obtain a COLA before they were able to get their beer to consumers. This lengthy process substantially increased time to market.

In May 2006, the Brewers Association proposed changes to what TTB recognized as traditional ingredients such as certain fruits, spices, and processes including aging beer in barrels that were used in the production or storage of wine and spirits. These proposed ingredients and processes would no longer require the extra step of acquiring a formula approval from TTB and would be labeled according to trade understanding. Since the initial petition in 2006, TTB has seen a substantial rise in formula approval requests from a new age of brewers that have revived traditional, historical brewing practices which include a variety of innovative ingredients and processes. Because of the recent steep rise in requests, TTB undertook additional research to find out if these now commonly used ingredients would cause compliance issues further down the road. These studies produced conclusive results that the requested ingredients and processes would not cause compliance issues because they were so widely utilized.

This new ruling is a huge lift for many breweries, since it eliminates the tedious and time-consuming process of acquiring formula approvals. TTB has conveyed that this ruling is a means to “provide immediate relief from the formula requirement burden for certain products.” It is also the beginning of a reassessment of how the TTB can “reduce regulatory burdens” and be most effective in working together with brewers to get quality beer to consumers.

Brewers are already experiencing the positive effects of this ruling. When we reached out to Heather Gleeson from New Belgium Brewing Company, she said that previously, it would take around 75 days for all formula approvals from TTB. “Eliminating the need for formulas with ingredients that you can pick up at the local grocery store which are generally recognized as safe and common is super exciting.” Heather is also very pleased to see that formulas are no longer required for the utilization of wood barrels that previously contained wine or spirits since New Belgium Brewing Company makes so many different sour ales that are aged in wood barrels. She has already seen a drop in approval time from 75 to 65 days for formulas that actually do require approval. “Getting beer to market much faster is huge. It is also less of an administrative burden for TTB that just makes a lot of sense.” Everyone is looking forward to faster approval times for formulas, and already enjoying being able to withdraw formula applications that are no longer required.

*Even since June 10th we’ve seen a drop in formula approval times from 72 days to 63 days.

While certain ingredients and processes are now exempt from formula approval, TTB may request further information about ingredient and production on a case-by-case basis. TTB also requires that brewers label their beer accurately so that ingredients and brewing processes are not misleading. For more details about what has changed, see TTB Ruling 2014-4 and its attachments for a complete list of exempt ingredients and acceptable labeling. For even more positive feedback on this ruling, check out the Brewer’s Association’s response.