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  • The Pac Northwest is Heating Up! Learn How to Harness the Growth

    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!

    Your DIRECT source of Wine Shipping Information

    The ShipCompliant Blog brings you a steady flow of legislative updates, regulatory changes and other important news impacting wine shippers. If you find this information valuable, you won’t want to miss DIRECT 2013, ShipCompliant’s 8th annual Direct Sales and Shipping Seminar taking place June 13, 2013, in Napa, California.

    This full-day seminar will feature multiple breakout sessions to discuss, in detail, some of the most important issues to wine direct shippers today, including:

    • Regulatory Roulette: A Discussion of Key Regulatory Issues Impacting Your Business
    • Integrating a Mobile Marketing Strategy into Your Sales Efforts
    • Third-Party Marketing: The Regulatory Landscape You Need to Know
    • Best Practices for Managing your Fulfillment Efforts in the Age of Amazon
    • Shipping Analytics: How Do You Measure Up?
    • ShipCompliant Support Lab: 1-on-1 Training
    • ShipCompliant University (three tracks)
      • Back to Basics: ShipCompliant 101
      • Compliance Made Easy
      • From Sale to Shipment

    You’ll also get to hear from best-selling author and keynote speaker, Dr. Joseph Michelli, as he shares his share his extensive, in-depth research into key differentiators that define the success of companies like Starbucks, Zappos, and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. And more importantly, how wineries can incorporate these strategies to create their own “creaveable” brands.

    Wine Institute Director of State Relations, Steve Gross, will give a detailed state-by-state overview of recent and upcoming changes affecting wine direct shippers. Pat Kohler, Director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, and Deputy Director Rick Garza will provide insight on recent changes in Washington state that have industry-wide impacts.

    Seating is limited, so register today to confirm your seat at this eighth-annual exciting and informative conference.

    Is the Marketplace Fairness Act Fair for Wineries?


    In short, yes, for a couple of reasons:

    1. Wineries already pay sales tax in most states
    2. The vast majority of wineries will likely be exempt from the law

    So what is it, exactly?

    Senate Bill S. 743, more commonly known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act“, is a pretty simple bill that would give states the ability to require out of state businesses that have “remote sales” in excess of $1 million annually to remit sales taxes. Each state would be able to opt in to the Act, but only after they have simplified their tax structure, either by joining the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement or to follow the steps outlined in the bill to simplify their sales tax requirements.

    Will it pass?

    With broad bi-partisan support, S. 743 passed out of the Senate with a vote of 69 to 27. However, a tough battle is expected in the House, and therefore the Marketplace Fairness Act has a long way to go before it is enacted with a signature from President Obama. Amazon.com is supporting the bill (presumably because they would like to move forward with their plans to build warehouses in each state to support same-day shipping), while eBay is one of the main voices in opposition.

    What will it mean for wineries?

    A lot hinges on the definition of “remote sales”. Keep in mind the fact that state legislation to allow wine shipments typically includes a provision that also requires wineries to register for and pay sales tax. As it stands in the Senate version, and based on our interpretation of the current language, sales by wineries to states where they are already required to pay sales tax would not be counted when considering the $1 million threshold for remote sales.

    Based on some quick analysis, there are a few hundred wineries in the US that ship more than $1 million worth of wine to consumers each year. BUT, if you include sales only to those states (Alaska, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Wyoming) that do not require wineries to pay sales tax, then we estimate that less than 25 wineries would exceed the $1 million cap. In other words, the vast majority of the 7,000+ wineries in the US would be exempt from this law.

    Wineries are already accustomed to calculating, collecting, and remitting sales taxes in most states. So, for those wineries that would not be exempt from this law, it would probably not be that big of a deal to add a few more states (initially the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, and Wyoming) to the list of states to which they would be required to remit sales tax. They already have the technology and processes to do so.

    The bill would take effect, at the earliest, on October 1st, 2013. Once effective, the 22 “Streamlined” sales tax states would begin requiring sales tax for remote sellers with over $1 million in sales. After that, each of the remaining 28 states would choose whether to opt in to the Act and start requiring sales tax from remote sellers.

    Maryland Direct Shippers Should Still File Sales Tax Quarterly

    Maryland may still be working out some kinks in the sales tax collection component of their direct wine shippers program. Some wineries may have incorrectly received a notice that their sales tax payments should be made monthly rather than making the quarterly payments required under the DTC shipping law.

    It seems that some vendors are being automatically switched to monthly payments in the state’s automated collection system. If you receive a Maryland Sales & Use delinquency/penalty letter telling you to file monthly reports, do not follow their instructions and change from quarterly payments. Instead, contact Patricia Anthony in the Licensing & Registration Division at (410) 260-7532. And do NOT contact the Sales & Use Division as the letter might suggest.

    Terri Cofer Beirne, Eastern Counsel, Wine Institute

    Save the Peach Trees! Alcohol Tax Filing Goes Online in Georgia

    Alcohol Tax Filers who pay Georgia Excise Tax or related Georgia license fees will be required to file and renew online beginning September 2012 through the Georgia Tax Center (GTC). The Georgia Department of Revenue (GDOR) has sent out a notice stating that businesses can begin managing their alcohol tax account with the GTC and access the new e-file templates starting September 4, 2012, in time to file August 2012 monthly tax returns.

    Affected alcohol returns include, but are not limited to:

    • Georgia ATT-7SP Excise Tax Return
    • Georgia ATT-11 Monthly Report of Distilled Spirits Shipments to Wholesalers
    • Georgia ATT-112 Report of Wine Shipments

    The state sent out a second notice this week containing instructions on how to create a GTC login or add a license account to an existing login. Also noteworthy, those intending to renew their alcohol-related licenses will be expected to do so through their new GTC online account for the renewal period beginning September 4, 2012 and ending November 1, 2012.

    Georgia’s announcement to go paperless joins the ranks of other online state filing systems such as Wisconsin and Ohio.

    Georgia Tax Center (GTC) Login

    Washington State Simplifies Tax Filing For Wineries

    Washington now allows an optional annual filing of wine tax for wineries whose total sales into Washington are less than 6,000 gallons annually (roughly 2,500 cases). Wineries that exceed the 6,000 gallon limit, however, must continue to file monthly returns. This new allowance comes after the passage of SB 5259, a bill that passed in March and officially came into effect in June of this year. Bright yellow postcards were recently sent out by the Liquor Control Board (LCB) to qualifying wineries, along with instructions on how to change to the new frequency.

    Senate and House Bill Reports on SB 5259 state that the passage of the bill is expected to benefit an estimated 300-400 wineries, simplify the reporting process and save time and effort. The state will benefit as well, as processing returns and payments for small dollar amounts can prove costly for the state.

    How to Notify the State

    Wineries who file the LIQ-774 (in-state wineries) and holders of the Certificate of Approval (COA) who file the LIQ-778 or the LIQ-870 (direct wine shippers) expecting to sell less than 6,000 gallons in Washington this year can sign up to file annually for the remainder of 2012 by emailing beerwinetaxes@liq.wa.gov. July 20 is the deadline for notifying the Liquor Board of intention to file annually for the remainder of the 2012 calendar year, so wineries should submit their requests to the LCB as soon as possible. In this email, specific account information should be included:

    • Name and phone number of the individual who files the returns
    • Trade name of the winery
    • COA number (or winery license number for in-state wineries)
    • Whether or not June 2012 sales have already been filed

    The annual report for the remainder of 2012 may include sales from June through December. However, wineries that have already filed for the month of June will file the annual report beginning with July’s sales. If wineries would prefer to file annually beginning in January, this same process can be followed to change the filing frequency before the beginning of each new year.

    Questions? Please contact the Washington State Liquor Control Board directly, or comment below.