Maine, New Mexico, and Washington are the only states that have separate excise tax rates for wine and wine fortified with spirits (Edit: Some states consider a product to be fortified if it is over a certain ABV, regardless of the addition of spirits). To date, we’ve accommodated wineries that shipped fortified products to consumers by having two separate versions of the report or used calculations based on product ABV in each state. Based on user feedback, we wanted to make this process easier and more accurate, so we recently added the ability to specify that a product is fortified in ShipCompliant. With this change, we updated the Maine, New Mexico, and Washington returns listed below so that any orders containing “fortified” products will be taxed at the corresponding rate, beginning with returns that are due on or after March 20.
- Maine Direct Shipper Excise Tax and Premium Report of Table Wine, Sparkling and Fortified Wine
- New Mexico Liquor Excise Tax Return for Direct Shippers
- Washington LIQ-318 Wine Authorized Representative Certificate of Approval Holder Summary Tax Report
- Washington Liquor Shipment and Tax Report (LIQ-778 Distributor)
- Washington Liquor Shipment and Tax Report (LIQ-870 Wine Shipper)
If you are subscribed to one of the returns listed above, we will automatically update your return to tax products based on the new “fortified” product settings starting Friday, February 28 – you do not have to take any action in your ShipCompliant account unless you have fortified products.
To mark products as fortified, select the “Fortified” checkbox when adding or editing products in your account. Please note: Any orders entered prior to specifying that a product is fortified will not be retroactively updated. To learn more, read our client Knowledge Base article.
Texas sent out notices to all permitted out-of-state wine direct shippers that as of January 1, 2014, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is updating the filing periods for the C-240, Shippers Excise Tax Return. The notice states that permittees shipping less than 4,000 gallons annually to consumers in Texas may begin filing this return on an annual calendar basis, beginning with the 2014 year. Permittees shipping more than 4,000 gallons of wine annually must continue to file this return on a quarterly basis, however the return will reset as a standard quarterly filing, as opposed to the unusual offset quarterly schedule. In other words:
* Qualified annual filers will file their first annual return due January 15, 2015
* Quarterly filers will file their first calendar quarter return due April 15, 2014
For the first filing period on this new schedule, rather than file a monthly return for December 2013, TABC instructs all permittees to include December 2013 in their first filing period of the new filing structure. ShipCompliant users need not worry calculating this extra month into their new filing periods; this month will already be included in the new filing periods by the time these filing periods need to be submitted to the state. Permittees that are ShipCompliant users and allowed to switch to annual filing should keep an eye out for an alert notifying you when the annual frequency is available for selection in your ShipCompliant account. Please note that you should only switch to the annual frequency if the state has indicated they qualify, and those that are qualified must file annually.
Wine direct shippers doing business in Connecticut will be required to report and pay sales tax due for all filing frequencies beginning on or after January 1, 2014. This mandate affects direct wine shippers because sales tax remittance is a requirement of their direct shipping license in Connecticut. Currently most shippers file both their sales tax and excise tax returns for Connecticut via paper. After January 1, 2014, however, only excise tax should be remitted via paper mailings. Specific details on this eFile mandate may be found in Informational Publication 2013(15), but below are a few notable details to get filers prepared for this change.
New e-filing sales tax filers have two options to file sales tax returns: via telephone at 860-289-4829, or via the TSC Online website. Taxpayers need their “Connecticut Tax Registration Number” and PIN or information from a previously filed return to log on to the TSC website. Both of these options allow for sales tax to be paid along with filing the return. Sales tax filers may remit payment via ACH debit (recommended), ACH credit (pre-registration required) or by a credit card (convenience fee assessed). For specific details on each of these payment options please refer to the publication noted above.
Any sales tax filer that would like to begin filing sales tax online now is allowed to do so; simply choose one of the above options to file and pay sales tax for the last tax return of 2013.
Monthly filings in 40+ states can be quite a burden, especially for suppliers who don’t have significant sales every month in every state. Idaho has recognized over the years that wine direct shippers generally do not have significant sales every month and is reaching out to licensed wine direct shippers letting them know they may be eligible to file the “Idaho Form 1752 Wine Wholesalers, Wineries and Wine Direct Shippers Tax Return” and/or the “Idaho Form 850 Sales and Use Tax Return” on a less frequent basis. This eligibility is dependent on requirements outlined in the Idaho Administrative Rules:
- Monthly tax filers liable for the Idaho wine or sales taxes who owe $600 or less per quarter and have a satisfactory record of timely filing/payment of their taxes may request to file quarterly or semi-annually.
- Monthly tax filers liable for the Idaho wine or sales taxes who have seasonal activities and have a satisfactory record of timely filing/payment of their taxes may request to file annually.
Any licensed wine direct shipper that files either or both of these returns on a monthly basis and falls under the criteria noted above may submit a request for a less frequent filing preference by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or writing a letter to:
- Meaghan McCandlish
- Unit: RO/PAS
- Idaho State Tax Commission
- PO Box 76
- Boise, Idaho 83707-0076
You must receive confirmation of approval by the Idaho State Tax Commission before you may begin filing at a less frequent reporting frequency. Also, if you are approved to switch from monthly to quarterly in the next two months, the soonest you may begin filing quarterly would be for the quarter beginning January 2014 and you would still need to file a monthly reports for the last months of 2013.
Please note, wine suppliers that only sell to Idaho distributors and do not partake in any direct-to-consumer sales with Idaho do not need to submit Form 1752 to the State Tax Commission.
Effective October 1, 2013 Maine will increase the general sales tax rate from 5% to 5.5%. This state rate increase adds to the list of statewide tax changes seen this year, including but not limited to: California, Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, and Tennessee (food only). Accompanying the rate change, filing for the tax period containing the rate change for semi-annual and annual filers will be unconventional.
Maine is requesting that semi-annual and annual filers submit returns on a ‘special’ frequency schedule to accommodate the transition from a 5% to a 5.5% tax rate. Semi-annual filers will need to submit two quarterly filings, July 1 through September 30 and October 1 through December 31 to reflect the old and new rates, then continue to file semi-annual per norm for 2014. Annual filers will need to submit one report to cover the time period of January 1 through September 30, then a quarterly filing for October 1 through December 31, then return to their annual filing per norm for 2014. Monthly and quarterly sales tax filers, however, should see no change to their filing frequency.
Maine has not had a state sales tax rate change since 2000, when the rate decreased from 5.5% to the soon-to-be replaced rate of 5%. Born out of the Maine budget bill, the coming rate increase is not permanent, and the additional 0.5% is set to expire June 30, 2015.
ShipCompliant account holders required to file any of the above special frequencies will find this automatically updated in their accounts.
Next week, our team will be in Napa to celebrate our 8th annual DIRECT Conference. If you’ll be in the area on June 13th, we’d love for you to attend!
But did you know that we’ll also be holding events in Oregon and Washington this month?
It’s easy to see why hundreds of brands in the Pac Northwest have begun to use ShipCompliant in the past few years; the region is now a formidable force in direct-to-consumer sales. When we compiled our 2013 Direct Shipping Report, we saw growth across the entire market, but Oregon and Washington stood out as outperformers. Though their direct wine sales are about one fifth of Napa’s, the upward trend is hard to ignore.
Let’s take a closer look at Washington.
According to our 2013 Direct Shipping Report, the Evergreen State has seen monumental growth in its wine industry, with year over year volume growth of more than 18% in 2012.Not only that, but the average price of a bottle from Washington has risen 19%. This has pushed the market past the $50 million mark for the first time last year, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
It also seems that the best food pairing for a glass of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, is, in fact, another glass of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon. Sales of the varietal have shot up over 69% in the past year. Cabernets, Syrahs, and blends now represent 70% of the state’s market for wine by volume.
Heading south a bit, our friends in Oregon have also enjoyed huge success in recent years. The state boasted a 10% gain in direct shipping sales last year, and its average price per bottle has risen to over $37, slightly above that of both Washington and Sonoma.
The 2004 Paul Giamatti film “Sideways” was set in Santa Barbara, where the actor’s character was obsessed with Pinot Noir. Based on our data, the film could have easily been set in Oregon, where the varietal represents 60% of total shipping volume, as well as the highest average bottle price at $47. No other region is more dominated by a single type of wine than the Beaver State.
The source of Oregon’s rise in direct shipping, however, is not forged by Pinot alone. Now that Oregon has established itself as a haven for aspiring grapes, more varietals have stepped up to the plate, as Pinot Noir’s annual volume remains flat. Syrah/Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc have all exploded in 2012 with growth of over 100% each. Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon’s average price per bottle has risen 30%, to $35. Though these varietals have a long way to go to catch up to Pinot Noir, it’s this diversity that is truly fueling the state’s rapid ascent.
We welcome this growth, and we love to see it. In fact, we’re hosting two events in the Pacific Northwest this month, along with our sponsors, Moss Adams LLP. We call it “Step-by-Step,” and we’ve designed these seminars to help wineries finance, account for, and act compliantly through the rapid positive changes happening in their businesses.
To sign up for our June 18th seminar in Oregon, click here!
To sign up foro ur June 20th seminar in Washington, click here!