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Everything is bigger in Texas, including 4 month quarters and 13 month years

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.

How to make compliant shipments to Arkansas

Following up on Sarah’s post about the new permit applications being available in Arkansas, we wanted to give you a quick update on how we’re handling some of the unique requirements in the Arkansas law. The bottom line is that you can now make compliant shipments to Arkansas if you’ve completed the permit process. Continue reading below for the full details of how we implemented this new state in ShipCompliant…

1) We deployed the updates to production last night. We also activated the appropriate rules in the ShipCompliant Direct database. The first thing to note is that this permit allows you to make onsite shipments only. Therefore, if you pass in a shipment with an Order Type of Internet, Phone, Mail, Fax, or Club (all of which map to an “Offsite” Sale Type), the order response will be Non Compliant. Shipments with an Order Type of In Person will results in a Sale Type of Onsite and therefore will be compliant if all other rules checked are also compliant.

2) Because the Arkansas DFA is going to accept the FedEx and UPS standard alcohol shipping labels and stickers as meeting the requirement for special shipping labels, we did not add any custom rules to comply with this provision. Using your standard alcohol shipping practices here will achieve compliance with respect to the labeling provision.

3) We did add a new rule called for the provision that requires all shipments to be delivered to a residential address. If you are using version 1.1 or 1.2 of the API will see this rule type come through as Business Address Shipping Prohibited. Please work with Emily Sheehan, our Integration Specialist, if you have any questions about handling or testing this new rule type. The rule is live now in Arkansas in our sandbox (dev) and demo (demo) environments.

4) When shipments are sent to ShipCompliant, they are checked for compliance against our rules database and that process always includes an address validation step prior to determining the rules that are applicable for that shipment. As part of our algorithm for validating addresses, we’ll always set the Residential Business Delivery Indicator (RBDI) flag to either R for Residential or B for Business per USPS standards. When checking this new rule type for compliance, we’ll look at that flag and only shipments with an RBDI set to R will pass the compliance check process.

In summary, if you have a permit and make an onsite shipment to a residential address in Arkansas, an order will now pass the compliance check process in ShipCompliant once you acknowledge the new rules in ShipCompliant Direct. We’ve included two sample XML responses below to illustrate both compliant and non-compliant shipments to Arkansas.


South Dakota Takes Wine Product Registration Online

Product renewals for 2014 in South Dakota can now be done online. South Dakota now joins Arkansas as one of the most recent states to institute on-line product registrations, continuing the trend toward digital product registration, away from the realm of pulp and fiber and into the digital space.

Suppliers of wine, spirits and beer to South Dakota can complete their product registration renewals for 2014 via South Dakota’s new on-line product registration portal. Paper-based product registration is still an option – forms, fees and instructions for paper registration are available on South Dakota’s Special Tax Division website.

HOW SOUTH DAKOTA’S ON-LINE PRODUCT REGISTRATION WORKS
To utilize the new South Dakota on-line product registration portal, suppliers will need their 4-digit “BR License Number” (provided in a recent communication from the state) as well as an email address. Upon logging in, suppliers will see a list of all currently registered products associated with their BR License Number. Suppliers need merely click the box next to the product they would like to renew for distribution in 2014. Should suppliers find that they would like to edit any details of their products (i.e. to add a COLA # or edit the label description), it is possible to easily edit details of any product. All renewals are preliminarily approved upon submission. State fees for on-line registration of wine products is $30 for an initial label of a brand and $22.50 for subsequent labels under the same brand. The fee for on-line registration of beer is $30 per label, and for spirits $55 per label. Payment may be made by credit card or check.

South Dakota’s new on-line product registration will allow suppliers to more quickly register new products, renew, and edit products currently licensed and in distribution in the state.

Anyone with any questions, please leave a comment here, or contact Tonna Finch at the SD Department of Revenue by email, or by phone at 605-773-5397.

Wine & Spirit Suppliers to Arkansas Must Register Products by End of Year

With passage of HB 1480 (now titled “Act 1105“), the state of Arkansas is requiring that all wine and spirits suppliers actively distributing wine and spirits into the state must register each distributed product with the state. Wine & spirits products (beer is not required) currently in distribution must be registered by December 31 and all registration takes place on-line.

The state fee for on-line product registration is $20/label. Suppliers can no longer send the “Manufacturer’s Request for Brand Registration or Change of Wholesaler” form in a paper format. This is now done on-line.

How to Register Your Currently Distributed Products:

  1. Visit Arkansas’ Electronic Registrations Website
  2. Have a list of your actively distributed COLA numbers, names of your Arkansas distributors, and any brand owner authorization letters if the registrant is not the owner of the brand being registered with the state
  3. Payment is via credit card

Through December 31, 2013, suppliers may download an excel spreadsheet of their COLAs by Federal Basic Permit Number. Labels will initially be approved directly upon completion of workflow process. The state will review incoming registration to ensure non-violation of sole source requirements and other rules and regulations.

IMPORTANT:
-All currently active products must be registered by December 31
-Product registrations are valid through June 30, 2014
-Label Registration status can be verified by COLA Number
-Newly distributed products may be registered beginning January 1, 2014

Feel free to ask any questions you may have about Arkansas product registration on this blog post and we will answer them as quickly as possible.

TTB Halts Regulatory Functions

As a result of the government shutdown, TTB has halted regulatory functions. Licensees will not be able to access COLAs Online, Permits Online, or Formulas Online. This also means that ShipCompliant’s integration with COLAs Online will not be available during the shutdown. As soon as appropriations are made available, TTB will work on restoring these functions and we will enable the integration shortly thereafter. Please see the notice that TTB posted on their website below.

APPROPRIATIONS LAPSE NOTICE
CESSATION OF TTB OPERATIONS
WITH LIMITED ACCESS TO WWW.TTB.GOV

Due to the lapse in government funding, only web sites supporting excepted functions will be updated unless otherwise funded. Our TTB web site, www.ttb.gov, will be available during this shutdown period and you will continue to be able to file electronic payments and returns for federal excise taxes and operational reports through https://www.pay.gov/paygov/.

However, there will be no access to TTB’s eGovernment applications including, but not limited to, Permits Online, Formulas Online, and COLAs online. Other information on the web site may not be up to date, and TTB will not be able to respond to questions or comments submitted via the web site until appropriations are enacted.

TTB will suspend all non-excepted TTB operations, and no personnel will be available to respond to any inquiries, including emails, telephone calls, facsimiles, or other communications. The web site and operations will fully resume when appropriations are reenacted. TTB has directed employees NOT to report to work and they are prohibited by federal law from volunteering their services during a lapse in appropriations.

Once funding has been restored, and the government shutdown is over, we will work to restore regular service as soon as possible.

The COLA Conundrum

On the issue of Certificates of Label Approval (COLAs), the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is finding itself caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock is their funding, including dwindling budgets each year, and concerns over furloughs, government shutdowns, and long term sequestration given an inept and unpredictable Congress. The hard place is an industry that is pumping more and more products into the marketplace and a need to get products to market quickly because of a dizzying pace of innovation.

The result of this squeeze is longer approval times for new COLA applications. Even though TTB has made great strides and a substantial number of changes to streamline the COLA filing process, current COLA processing times are 38 days for distilled spirits labels, 12 days for malt beverage labels, and 25 days for wine labels.

TTB has also signaled that they would like to make even more changes to the COLA process. As we discussed on a panel at the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) Annual Conference this summer in Hawaii, TTB would like to continue to explore substantial ways to overhaul the label pre-approval process, including potentially moving to a “deemed-approved” process with automated decisions for certain eligible labels and a shift to marketplace enforcement. These potential changes could have a big impact on the 30+ states that have label approval laws as well as suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, and vendors. Many states would need to revise their statutes, change their regulations, and/or revisit their policies and processes if the changes move forward.

We’re going to hold a follow-up “part 2″ to the COLA panel at the NCSLA Regional Conference in Atlantic City on October 12th. I’ll also touch on these issues during the regulatory roundup section at our annual Direct Sales Virtual Seminar on October 17th.

We want to hear from you! If you have any feedback, comments, or questions, please email them to COLApanel@shipcompliant.com . If you are a state administrator, and you haven’t yet completed our label registration survey, please do so in advance of the panel on October 12th by clicking here. Our goal is to have an open, collaborative discussion on this important topic and would love to have as much input as possible.