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.
After years of persistent petitioning from the Brewers Association, TTB has made big revisions to the formula and labeling requirements for beer. Prior to the ruling made on June 5th, 2014, in many cases craft brewers were required to submit a formula for approval as well as obtain a COLA before they were able to get their beer to consumers. This lengthy process substantially increased time to market.
In May 2006, the Brewers Association proposed changes to what TTB recognized as traditional ingredients such as certain fruits, spices, and processes including aging beer in barrels that were used in the production or storage of wine and spirits. These proposed ingredients and processes would no longer require the extra step of acquiring a formula approval from TTB and would be labeled according to trade understanding. Since the initial petition in 2006, TTB has seen a substantial rise in formula approval requests from a new age of brewers that have revived traditional, historical brewing practices which include a variety of innovative ingredients and processes. Because of the recent steep rise in requests, TTB undertook additional research to find out if these now commonly used ingredients would cause compliance issues further down the road. These studies produced conclusive results that the requested ingredients and processes would not cause compliance issues because they were so widely utilized.
This new ruling is a huge lift for many breweries, since it eliminates the tedious and time-consuming process of acquiring formula approvals. TTB has conveyed that this ruling is a means to “provide immediate relief from the formula requirement burden for certain products.” It is also the beginning of a reassessment of how the TTB can “reduce regulatory burdens” and be most effective in working together with brewers to get quality beer to consumers.
Brewers are already experiencing the positive effects of this ruling. When we reached out to Heather Gleeson from New Belgium Brewing Company, she said that previously, it would take around 75 days for all formula approvals from TTB. “Eliminating the need for formulas with ingredients that you can pick up at the local grocery store which are generally recognized as safe and common is super exciting.” Heather is also very pleased to see that formulas are no longer required for the utilization of wood barrels that previously contained wine or spirits since New Belgium Brewing Company makes so many different sour ales that are aged in wood barrels. She has already seen a drop in approval time from 75 to 65 days for formulas that actually do require approval. “Getting beer to market much faster is huge. It is also less of an administrative burden for TTB that just makes a lot of sense.” Everyone is looking forward to faster approval times for formulas, and already enjoying being able to withdraw formula applications that are no longer required.
*Even since June 10th we’ve seen a drop in formula approval times from 72 days to 63 days.
While certain ingredients and processes are now exempt from formula approval, TTB may request further information about ingredient and production on a case-by-case basis. TTB also requires that brewers label their beer accurately so that ingredients and brewing processes are not misleading. For more details about what has changed, see TTB Ruling 2014-4 and its attachments for a complete list of exempt ingredients and acceptable labeling. For even more positive feedback on this ruling, check out the Brewer’s Association’s response.
It’s that time of year again; the Kansas label renewal period is upon us. Kansas has pushed the renewal period back by a month this year so licensees will be able to renew previously approved labels from June 1st through July 31st. But, that doesn’t mean that you should procrastinate! Just like last year, Kansas will be utilizing the PRO system to offer a quick and easy substitute to laborious paper submissions. Licensees will be able to submit electronically with three simple steps; check which products they would like to renew, review the selection, and make a payment. It should take only a few minutes to complete. That will be one more item checked off your to-do list.