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Big Changes in Arkansas for Wine and Spirits Brand Registrations

Big changes regarding alcohol regulations continue to unfold for Arkansas this year with the passage of HB 1480, now Act 1105 (signed into law shortly Arkansas’ recent direct shipping bill). Act 1105 effectively changes the current wine and spirits brand registration process. Below is a table comparing the current requirements with the new requirements outlined in the Act, which will go into effect mid-August.

Of the changes outlined above, the biggest to note is the new fee requirement of $15 per “brand label” and “brand label size” and the implementation of annual renewals. The Act defines a “brand label” as “…the label carrying the distinctive design of a brand name of a spirituous liquor or vinous liquor”. In the past, Arkansas has not required additional sizes to be separately registered, nor did they explicitly require notification of new brand label extensions.

Also noteworthy is a new license requirement for wine and spirits suppliers. The $50 license will allow producers and importers to continue to sell to Arkansas wholesalers. Those already licensed as an “Arkansas Small Farm Winery” (needed to sell wine directly to Arkansas retailers) do not need to obtain additional licenses to sell to Arkansas distributors; their existing license will suffice.

Updated procedures are not public yet, however as time draws near the effective date, Arkansas will surely release information on their implementation process. Keep an eye on the ShipCompliant blog for updates.

Limited to On-site Sales, Arkansas Passes Bill to Allow Direct Shipping

On March 21, 2013, House Bill 1749 became Act 483, signifying its passage into law. Once enacted mid-August, the state of Arkansas will be added to the list of states that allow wineries to ship wine directly to consumers — but with many limitations.

Aside from the low cost of the license, the requirements under this new shipping law limit the abilities of licensed out-of-state wineries, arguably more than any other state that currently allows direct-to-consumer wine shipping. These limitations include requiring all shipments to be purchased in person at the winery, and affixing a special, ABC-provided, shipping label to each shipment.

For those wineries interested in navigating these one-of-a-kind requirements, Arkansas consumers will no doubt enjoy the ability to ship home a case of wine after visiting their favorite wineries. No license applications or information are available as of yet. Below is a breakdown of the licensing process, as well as the requirements and restrictions to operate, as stated in the new law:

Restrictions/Requirements (not limited to the following):

  • Consumers must be physically present at the winery when purchasing the wine to be shipped to Arkansas consumers (onsite orders only)
  • Every shipment must be affixed with a shipping label provided by the ABC, costing up to an additional $10 per label
  • Collect and remit sales and excise tax, “as if the sale took place on the premises of a Arkansas Small Farm Winery”
  • Ship only to a private residence – added difficulty, as shipments require an adult signature
  • Customer volume limit of one case per customer, per quarter

Licensing Process

  • Registration with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Alcoholic Beverage Control Division (ABC), including a $25 annual fee.
  • Provide the ABC with a copy of the winery’s home-state license as well as the winery’s TTB Federal Basic Permit

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.

Nebraska Tightens up Existing Direct Shipping Law

LB 230 passed Nebraska’s unicameral legislature and was signed by the Governor on April 24, 2013. The new law will go into effect on September 6, 2013. Nebraska is currently open to direct shipping from wineries and retailers (although there was some debate recently as to whether retailers should qualify under the current law), with easy-to-navigate regulations. The new law introduces several new restrictions that Nebraska direct shippers should be aware of before the new law goes into effect.

Though the bill’s statement of intent indicated that only manufacturers (wineries) would be able to obtain a license, after amendments to the bill, retailers were added back in and will be eligible for the Nebraska direct shipping license. So, at the end of the day (following a confusing set of hearings and deliberations) currently licensed wineries and retailers will both be able to continue to ship to Nebraska consumers, but with added complexity and requirements.

Direct shippers will see several marked changes to rules and licensing processes. Here’s a quick breakdown of these and other requirements in the new law – additional descriptions follow below:


Item Before
Sept. 6
After
September 6
Nexus status Not required In addition to requiring sales tax payments (common for direct shipping law), the potential to trigger additional tax obligations exists
Brand identification Not required Retailers and manufacturers may "only ship the brands of alcoholic liquor identified on the application
Distributor notification Not required Manufacturers (but not retailers) must notify Nebraska distributors carrying the identified brands, of the manufacturer’s intent to apply for a direct shipping license.
Notification of any violations Not required “…the applicant agrees to notify the commission of any violations in the state in which he or she is domiciled and any violations of the direct shipping laws of any other states…”
Non-sellable products Not required Required. Shippers may “…not ship any alcoholic liquor products that the manufacturers or wholesalers licensed in Nebraska have voluntarily agreed not to bring into Nebraska at the request of the commission;”
Excise tax Annual filing Monthly filing
Common carrier approval Not required Required

Under current regulations, it was somewhat unclear whether or not direct shippers were required to register to pay sales taxes, though most direct shippers did. The establishment of nexus under the new law could also mean that, in addition to requiring sales tax registration (common for direct shipping law), there is a potential to trigger additional tax obligations. Brand listings will be required as part of the licensing process, and wineries (but not retailers) must notify their Nebraska distributors carrying the listed brands of the manufacturer’s intent to apply for a direct shipping license. If a Nebraska manufacturer or wholesaler volunteers not to sell certain products within Nebraska’s borders, direct shippers would also not be allowed to sell those products under the new law. Furthermore, direct shipper applicants will have to notify the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission of any violations of direct shipping laws of any other states and any violations in the state in which the shipper is domiciled.

Many of the new laws will require clarification as to how currently licensed direct shippers should proceed in order to remain licensed and compliant – for example, will existing licensees have to notify distributors of their existing direct shipping license on Sept 6, or will this new requirement take effect once their current license expires in April? As we get closer to the September effective date, we will notify our clients and readers of any published guidelines or additional information.

October 1st Brings New Direct Wine Shipping Regulations to Montana

Montana House Bill 402 was signed by Governor Bullock on April 12, 2013 and creates workable direct wine shipping laws in the state. The new law, effective on October 1, 2013, will replace the flawed consumer licensing system presently in place for wine shipping in Montana.

Current regulations require that out-of-state wineries ship only to residents who hold a “Connoisseur’s License“; proof of the consumer license and a special sticker to affix to the shipping box must be provided to the winery before the shipment can be made. The new regulations will require out-of-state wineries to:

  • Register as a Foreign Winery or Importer. Many wineries already hold this license as it allows a winery to sell to a Montana distributor (cost of license is $0 to $400 annually, depending on volume sold in Montana; no-cost product registrations are required as part of becoming licensed)
  • Apply for a $50 annual direct shipping endorsement
  • Supply to Montana the name and address of any utilized fulfillment warehouses
  • Submit written acknowledgement of contracting only with common carriers that agree to deliver wine only to individuals who are of age and who provide a signature upon delivery
  • Ship no more than 18 cases of wine annually to an individual consumer (up from 12 cases/year)
  • Submit excise tax and shipment reports by the 15th of every month

While Montana’s regulations for direct wine shipments are changing, the connoisseur’s licensing system remains in place for shipments of beer from out-of-state breweries. UPS and FedEx, however, do not accept shipments of beer or spirits for delivery to consumers.

We will keep you informed of any updates from the Montana Liquor Control Division regarding the endorsement process once the details become available.