The opening of Massachusetts for direct shipping is perhaps the most important change to the direct shipping market since the Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court decision in 2005. We estimate that within three years of opening for direct shipments on January 1, 2015, Massachusetts will easily vault into the top ten states by shipping revenue and represent over $60 million in additional revenue for wineries that ship.
Let us explain.
The value of opening up any given state for direct wine shippers is, we find, related to three primary factors:
1. The state’s population
2. The state’s proximity to an important wine producing state/region
3. Per capita consumption of the state
Massachusetts has a population of approximately 6.6 million people, just above the national average of 6 million people per state. It is similar in population size to Tennessee, Indiana, Arizona and Washington State. While not a hugely populated state, it is by no means sparsely populated.
Massachusetts’ Proximity to a Wine Region
Massachusetts has a very small wine industry. However, it borders New York, an important wine producing state and wine tourism venue. This bodes well not just for New York wineries, but it suggests that Massachusetts wine lovers will benefit from easy access to wines they have recently discovered on day trips and weekend excursions.
Per Capita Wine Consumption in Massachusetts
Only five states have a higher per capita wine consumption rate than Massachusetts. At 29 bottles of wine consumed per person annually, Bay Staters consume wine at more than a 50% greater rate than the average state. They like their wine.
Given these factors, and looking at how similar states, in terms of consumption and location, rank in the direct-to-consumer shipping channel, we believe that Massachusetts wine lovers will have wine shipped to them at a significantly higher rate than the average state.
For the overall winery-to-consumer shipping market, 0.213 bottles of wine per capita were shipped in 2013. However, the top 10 winery-to-consumer shipping states averaged 0.276 bottles per capita. We have every reason to believe that Massachusetts will hew closely to this average within three years after the state opens for shipments. In fact, we are confident is saying that by 2018, three years after Massachusetts finally opens for direct shipping, it will generate more than $73 million in wine shipments and rank #7 for value of shipments among all legal states. By 2023, the value of the Massachusetts direct shipping market will be over $100 million per year.
A number of people and organizations have worked very hard to open up Massachusetts for direct shipping and to give Massachusetts consumers the simple right to buy the domestic wines they desire, especially Coalition for Free Trade, Free the Grapes!, and Wine Institute. Many years, much lobbying, lawsuits, more lobbying, working the media and harnessing the power of the consumer finally brought it about. It’s not only long in coming and a sweet victory for everyone, but also a very profitable victory for wineries across the country.
Alabama has joined the likes of seven other states (Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, South Dakota, North Carolina, and Washington) as the latest state to accept label registrations via Product Registration Online. Alabama typically requires licensees to fill out and submit a Brand/ Label Registration Request form to the state ABC. Licensees using PRO don’t need to fill out this form by hand; instead all the information is transmitted electronically to the state. Like other PRO states, licensees will receive approval emails and be able to look up their registrations in the public facing label database. Best of all, there are no state fees for using registrations via PRO, and, the Lorax will thank you.
Here is what you need to know about registering products in Alabama:
- Wine and sparkling wine labels equal to or under 24% ABV need to be registered
- Malt labels under 14% ABV need to be registered
- Alabama is a control state for spirits, and wine over 24%.
- There are no label renewals in Alabama.
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
Effective Monday, June 16, 2014, New Mexico went live with their TAP online filing system for Combined Reporting System (CRS) returns. Taxpayers who file the CRS return, regardless of if they currently file paper or electronically, will need to take action to create an account with the new system if they wish to file online. Filers that currently file this return online using the old NM E-Filing Services system please note: your current login and account set up in the older system will not transfer over to the new TAP system; you must register for a new account.
What you need to know about this changeover:
- If you file by paper for the CRS Return:
- No action is required, you can continue to file by paper. If you’d like to begin filing online, follow the steps outlined below to get set up with an account. Some tax accounts are required to file online; review this Tax Professionals page for more information.
- If you efile your CRS Return and have not yet filed for the current reporting period:
- You must create a TAP account and file this return before July 25, 2014; you will not be able to file using the old system.
To register for a New Mexico TAP account:
- Go to the New Mexico TAP Website and “Sign Up”
- Follow the prompts requested by the site; make sure you have:
- A valid email address. Each TAP profile requires a unique email address.
- A valid federal ID number such as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number (SSN)
- Letter ID from correspondence mailed to you within the last 90 days; or Information pertaining to the business account you wish to sign up for
Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you! We are always available at Support@ShipCompliant.com or you can call us during the week at (303) 996-2356.