Arkansas DTC wine shipments can now arrive via FedEx

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.

Don’t Fall Behind With Your Fortified Wine

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.

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.


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.