FedEx announced today that, effective Feb. 1, 2015, FedEx Express and FedEx Ground will open the state of Massachusetts for legal shipments of alcoholic beverages. The announcement provided the following:
- FedEx Ground and FedEx Express will both transport legal alcoholic beverage shipments into, out of and within the state of Massachusetts starting Feb. 1, 2015.
- Please note, unauthorized shipments of alcoholic beverages destined for MA prior to a Feb. 1, 2015 delivery date may not be accepted for delivery and/or returned to shipper.
- Per FedEx policy, all alcoholic beverage shipments may only be tendered by licensed entities that have executed a FedEx Alcohol Shipping Agreement.
- All alcoholic beverage shipments must comply with all FedEx policies and federal, state and local regulations.
- Wine is the only type of alcoholic beverage that is allowed to be shipped to consumers.
FedEx does not provide legal advice to third parties. Questions not related to FedEx policy should be directed to appropriate legal counsel and the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
(The new direct-to-consumer statute goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. Under the new law a winery must hold a Direct Wine Shipper license that has been approved by the MA ABCC and be registered to pay excise tax in order to ship to MA consumers.)
Starting with the October filing period, Indiana requires all alcohol beverage companies working in Indiana to electronically remit monthly excise tax returns and shipment reports. This method for electronic filing and payment is unique to Indiana and does not exist in any other state report.
ShipCompliant will be holding several webinars over the coming weeks to help you navigate these new requirements.
Click here to attend a webinar or sign up for a consultation.
The new Indiana report will be filed automatically for ShipCompliant AutoFile users. All other filers can use the summarized actions below to meet the new Indiana requirements.
Step 1: Register with Indiana’s Excise Tax and Bulk Filing Departments
- Send an email request to Excisetax@dor.in.gov with your FID/FEIN, to obtain your new Alcohol Beverage TID#
- To register with Indiana’s Bulk Filing Department, send an email request to email@example.com for a certificate of registration.
Step 2: Download and install the following software needed to E-File
Step 3: Generate two test .xml files and send to Indiana via the above noted software programs
Step 4: Set-up electronic payments
- Electronic Payment set-up is required for those liable for paying taxes, such as wine direct shippers
- Register for electronic payment at www.in.gov/dor/3976.htm
Submit a test payment of $0.01 to PNC Bank
If you want the full set of instructions on Indiana electronic filing start by visiting the Indiana Department of Revenue FAQ page, or contact the department via the information provided on the FAQ page for more info.
And if this all too much for you to complete by the November due date (during one of the busiest times in the year), have no fear. If you are unable to successfully submit your report through this new bulk-filing process in November, Indiana will accept a paper version of the report for this month only.
Want to avoid the hassle of reporting to Indiana altogether? Sign up for ShipCompliant AutoFile and let us worry about completing the above steps for you. Learn more about AutoFile today!
Last week TTB expanded the list of Allowable Revisions to Approved Alcohol Beverage Labels within the Industry Circular 2014-02. These minor changes come after a major effort last year to reduce the number of new label submissions from domestic suppliers. You can read more about the first change in this blog post. Previously approved labels with new changes that fall within the list of allowable revisions, both existing and the below additions, do not need to be approved again. This topic will also be discussed at the 1st Annual ShipCompliant Wholesale Gathering in White Plains, NY on October 16th.
|29. Delete or change promotional sponsorship-themed graphics, logos, artwork, dates, event locations and/or other sponsorship-related information (e.g., sports leagues, team organizations, annual sporting events, and annual or semi-annual festivals).
||If authorization by a third party was required for use of such promotional sponsorship-themed information on a label when first approved, it is the responsibility of the industry member to have any necessary documentation of authorization to cover the revisions to the approved label(s).
|30. Add, delete, or change a label or sticker that provides information about a rating or recognition provided by an organization (e.g., “Recognized as one of the top values in vodka by x Magazine” or “Rated as the best 2012 wine by x Association”), as long as the rating or recognition reflects simply the opinion of the organization and does not make a specific substantive claim about the product or its competitors.
||These statements or graphics must not conflict with or qualify any mandatory information and must comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Substantive claims about the product or its competitors are not covered by this exemption.
|31. Delete all organic references from the label.
||If you choose to delete one organic claim on a label on which you have received approval to make organic claims, then all organic claims, references, and certification statements must be deleted on the revised label. The deletion of individual references or certification statements is not permitted without a new COLA.
|32. Change an approved sulfite statement to any of these options: “Contains Sulfites,” “Contains (a) Sulfiting Agent(s),” “Contains [name of specific sulfating agent],”“Contains Naturally Occurring and Added Sulfites,” or “Contains Naturally Occurring Sulfites.”“Sulphites” may be used in lieu of “Sulfites.”
||A sulfite statement is required when sulfur dioxide or a sulfiting agent is detected at a level of 10 or more parts per million, measured as total sulfur dioxide. The statement used must accurately reflect all of the sulfur dioxide or sulfiting agent(s) present in the alcohol beverage. For wine: Any other variation of the statement or removal of the statement requires a lab analysis. For sulfite waivers, the proprietor must have proof of sample analysis from a TTB-certified laboratory or from the TTB Compliance Laboratory.
|33. Add, delete, or change information about the number of bottles that were “made,” “produced,” “brewed,” or “distilled” in a batch; respectively.
||Example: “100 bottles produced.”
|34. Add certain instructional statements to the label(s) about how best to consume or serve the product. Only the statements listed in the comments section may be added.
||Only the following statements are approved to be added to a label:“Refrigerate After Opening”“Do Not Store In Direct Sunlight”,“Best If Frozen For ___ to ___ Hours”, “Shake Well”, “Pour Over Ice”, “Best When Chilled”, “Best Served Chilled”, “Serve Chilled”, “Serve at Room Temperature”
Wine: Managing sulfite and organic statements are much less stringent. (8,027 approved wine labels in September 2014)
Malt: Adding or removing those treasured “Beer Festival” recognitions on labels will no longer require a new label. (708 approved malt labels in September 2014)
Spirits: Small batch whiskey information can be more dynamic on versions of the label. And, the growing interest in organic spirits will help TTB and suppliers be more efficient. (1,286 approved spirits labels in September 2014)
For more information, you may view the complete list of allowable revisions here. Thus far, TTB has approved 90,749 new COLAs this year, with 10,267 in September alone. Keep an eye on newly approved COLAs by clicking here.
Eight 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.
In calendar year 2013, ShipCompliant generated over 200,000 reports (sales and use tax, excise tax, direct shipping reports, wholesale gallonage reports, markup tax reports) for our clients. These reports generated over 700,000 pages of paper that were printed and mailed across the country (with paper checks as well) to the various state agencies. On top of that, suppliers generated over 100,000 pages of paper from product registration packets. In 2014 we’re likely to exceed 1 million pages of paper generated by the software.
We introduced Product Registration Online (PRO) three years ago to create public-private partnerships with state agencies for electronic submission and review of registrations for alcohol beverage products. PRO is in place in 10 states right now, with many more on the way, and it’s changing the way that suppliers bring products to market. It’s also eliminating incredible amounts of paper, postage, and headaches.
Not only are paper mailings extremely wasteful, but they’re also inefficient, slow, and not visible, both for the suppliers and the state agencies. One state agency told us that it costs them $35 on average to process each paper check that comes in! Further, a compliance consultant that I spoke with recently said that nine out of ten “notices” that they get from the state agencies are disputes about when and whether the report and check were actually mailed and received. Countless hours of back and forth are spent just trying to prove whether the mailings went out on time. The only way that suppliers know that the state received the report successfully is by monitoring that the checks actually got cashed, a process that can often take several months.
We’re on a mission to eliminate paper from this industry.
Just last month, we introduced AutoFile, a capability that allows suppliers to put their reports on cruise control. We keep track of whether you’re filing monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually with each agency, and make sure your reports get filed on time and accurately, every time. Everything is fully visible and accessible electronically any time you need it, and fully reconciled with your accounting system. We’re creating integrations with 25 different agencies right now to establish automated connections for report remittance. AutoFile will change the way we think about reporting. No longer a task, it just happens.
PS – If you’re a state agency that is looking to automate your paper processes and want to learn more about PRO or AutoFile, please contact us.
To our valued customers:
The US beverage alcohol industry has it tough. It is one of the most regulated industries in the United States, as well as one of the most fragmented. Our industry is full of thousands of small businesses and startups; Entrepreneurs following their passion and seeking to achieve their dream of building a business as a winery, brewery, distillery or importer.
Today, I’m proud to announce a major milestone in our effort to eliminate the complexity and cost of compliance for beverage alcohol companies: AutoFile – The first fully automated filing and payment solution for regulatory reporting.
No longer will you have to print paper, cut checks, or log into online filing systems. All of your state sales tax, excise tax, direct shipping and wholesale gallonage reports are automatically filed through AutoFile, complete with payment.
AutoFile has many benefits over reporting by hand, or outsourcing:
Simple funding: State payments are made out of an account of your choosing. No painful escrow accounts to manage, or reconciliation to deal with. It’s all under your own accounts!
Total control: Anytime, anywhere, view your compliance activity, place filings on hold, review past activity. Just like online banking you can view everything submitted on your behalf, in real time.
Future proof: If a state regulatory system changes its forms, procedures or methods, rest easy, it’s our problem now, not yours.
Guaranteed: All regulatory filings will be sent on time and accurately, guaranteed.
I encourage you to try it today, using our special free trial offer:
Your first month of reporting is on us, plus we’ll waive your setup fees.
Customers: Click here to start your free trial!
Non-customers: Choose an edition of ShipCompliant right for you.
We are grateful to our many clients that assisted in creating a solution that will help our industry grow further and faster.