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.
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
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.
Effective May 1, 2014, FedEx will begin accepting on-site direct-to-consumer wine shipment orders to Arkansas residents. Both FedEx Express and FedEx Ground services will be available for wineries licensed to ship wine directly to Arkansas consumers. As we outlined in our blog post back in February, in order to be compliant, wineries must:
- Apply for a $25 wine shipping permit (call the AR ABC for a permit application – 501-682-1105)
- Ship on-site shipments only
- Send orders only to private residences
- Pay sales and excise taxes
- Limit shipment volumes to 1 case per resident per quarter, max
Wineries should also note the FedEx label placed on any shipments satisfies the requirement of having a special shipping label on any on-site orders sent to Arkansas residents. FedEx’s shipping map will be updated on May 1.
By now, you have probably heard about an encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug. This bug affected web applications using a particular version of OpenSSL, a protocol designed to provide security for information transmitted over the internet. A widely-used version of OpenSSL was vulnerable to an issue in which sensitive information could potentially be exposed to a malicious hacker.
ShipCompliant services were not exposed to this vulnerability because we do not use OpenSSL.
ShipCompliant takes security, reliability and durability of your data very seriously. We follow a multi-tiered proactive approach to ensure we use the most powerful security tools and controls available so that all your sensitive information is protected. For more information on our security and privacy policies, please see our Privacy Overview page.
If you have any questions or concerns surrounding this issue, please contact us directly by emailing ShipCompliant Client Services, or by calling (303) 996-2356.
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.