TTB Issues Industry Circular On Repeal of Bond Requirements

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has issued an industry circular to provide final guidance on the removal of bond requirements for certain wineries, breweries and distilleries that are liable for not more than $50,000 in federal excise taxes in a calendar year. As WineAmerica has reported over the past year, this tax filing change was authorized as  part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was signed into law in December 2015. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) was folded into the omnibus legislation as part of a comprehensive package. WineAmerica advocated strongly for the inclusion of these new rules in the larger appropriations bill. The new rules went into effect on January 1.

The new bond exemption is for wineries that expect to have not more than $50,000 in excise taxes imposed in calendar year 2017. Additionally, to qualify for the exemption wineries must have been liable or no more than $50,000 in federal excise taxes in 2016. Because eligibility for the bond exemption depends in part on a taxpayer’s expected tax liability, taxpayers who are eligible for the bond exemption and who want to operate without a bond must notify TTB and obtain TTB approval. New applicants must notify TTB that they are eligible for the bond exemption during the initial application process. Existing taxpayers who wish to apply for the bond exemption must do so by amending their permit.

TTB amended its application forms (including the online equivalents submitted using TTB’s Permits Online system) to allow taxpayers to notify TTB that they are eligible for the bond exemption and request TTB approval to operate without a bond. For more efficient processing, TTB recommends that taxpayers who have previously applied using Permits Online, as well as all new applicants, use Permits Online to submit applications and amendments. Existing taxpayers who are not yet users of Permits Online should file this amendment by paper application. TTB cannot begin processing an existing taxpayer’s bond termination request until it receives the taxpayer’s final tax payments covering any remaining excise taxes incurred in 2016.

For more information or if you have specific questions please contact Michael Kaiser at mkaiser@wineamerica.org or 202-223-5172

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WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

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TTB Works to Simplify COLA Online Approval Process

By Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs

10.11.16

If you submit your TTB COLA approvals through the TTB online portal (and we highly suggest that you do) you will notice some changes in the system. COLA’s Online has recently been updated. The goal of the changes is to prevent labels from being returned for correction. The TTB is always looking to improve and streamline the approval process, and to that end, these changes were implemented. This, along with the extra funding WineAmerica worked to secure, will help reduce the turnaround time for label reviews. Currently wine labels are taking twelve calendar days for review, it is the goal of TTB to have that number down to ten calendar days by 2018. The notable changes to the wine label submission process are:

  • Four fields have been removed from the COLAs online form: alcohol content, net contents, wine vintage date and fax number fields have been removed. Those portions of the wine label will continue to be reviewed and must still be in compliance with the labeling rules.
  • For domestic wine there is a new tool to ensure the correct appellation of origin is used.

For more information about COLAs Online and other TTB online tools, please visit their online portal.

For more information please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org

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WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

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TTB Publishes FAQ on Tied House Ruling

3.21.2016

by Michael Kaiser

The TTB has issued a set of frequently asked questions in response to their ruling on federal tied house violations (see our analysis here). The ruling was issued last month and was in response to Kroger’s proposal to allow a large distributor to control shelving in their stores.

The TTB has made it clear that industry members may provide retailers a plan for shelving, but nothing further. An industry member may not provide and “inducement” or a “thing of value” to the retailer. While not mentioning Kroger by name, the TTB notes that any category management arrangement between an industry member and a retailer may not result in the exclusion of a competitor’s products.  Any such practice would be considered a violation of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act.

When the ruling was published, it was not clear if there were to be an exceptions to what is considered a “thing of value”. The TTB has clarified a few exceptions to what is and is not allowed. They are as follows:

  • Product displays not to exceed $300 per brand
  • Advertising items such as posters, coasters, paper napkins, foam scrapers, calendars, ash trays, cork crews, shirts and caps
  • Consumer coupons and contests
  • Consumer tastings and samplings

To read the full FAQ as published visit the TTB’s website.

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Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org.

WineAmerica is the national voice the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations.  As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy

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TTB Expands the Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has expanded the Willamette Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Oregon. The AVA expansion, a long term initiative of WineAmerica member King Estate, was approved on March 3. The Willamette Valley AVA expansion will allow many wineries who currently label their wine with a state or county appellation to now use the AVA, which creates a marketing advantage for the wineries and better educates the consumer on where the grapes originate.

The TTB has also established the Lamorinda American Viticultural Area in Northern California. The Lamorinda Wine Growers Association petitioned the TTB for the AVA, and it was approved on March 3. The Lamorinda AVA is located in Contra Costa County, California, and contains the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda. The  viticultural area lies in the northeast portion of the established San Francisco Bay AVA and also within the larger, multicounty Central Coast AVA.

The TTB also  established the approximately 12,897-square mile ‘‘Loess Hills District’’ viticultural area in western Iowa and northwestern Missouri. This new viticultural area is not located within any other viticultural area.

The three new American Viticultural Areas can be used on wine labels starting on April 4, 2017.

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Questions? Contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs, mkaiser@wineamerica.org

WineAmerica is the national voice of the American wine industry. Based in Washington, D.C., WineAmerica represents wineries in 43 states and leads a coalition of state and regional wine and grape associations. As an industry leader, WineAmerica encourages the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

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Congress Approves Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Includes COOL Repeal and Increased TTB Funding

Happy Holidays from all of us at WineAmerica. We had a very productive and successful year and we look forward to 2016. We will be back in the new year with a full slate of work on such issues as music licensing requirements and federal excise tax reform.

Congress wrapped up their work for the year today with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, sending it to the President’s desk for final signature. The bill fully funds the federal government until September 30, 2016. The bi-partisan agreement features several provisions relevant to the American wine industry.

  • TTB Funding: The bill features $106,439,000 in appropriations funding for TTB. This is $5,000,000 more than last fiscal year, with that money dedicated to label and formula approval.
  • COOL Repeal: The bill repeals the mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for certain cuts of beef and pork. The repeal of the COOL rule will protect the American wine industry from costly tariffs placed on wine exported into Canada and Mexico.
  • Tax Filing Requirements: Alcohol producers liable for not more than $50,000 per year in federal excise taxes to file and pay such taxes on a quarterly basis, rather than by month. Additionally, those producers liable for not more than $1,000 per year may pay taxes annually, rather than quarterly. The provision also exempts such producers from IRS bonding requirements.
  • Definition of Hard Cider: The provision defines hard cider for purposes of alcohol excise taxes as a wine with an alcohol content of between 0.5 percent and 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, with a carbonation level that does not exceed 6.4 grams per liter, which is derived primarily from apples, apple juice concentrate, pears, or pear juice concentrate, in combination with water. The previous alcohol content limit for hard cider was 0.5 percent to 7 percent.
  • Market Access Funding: The bill fully funds the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) at $200 million.  MAP funds are key for states expanding their wine sales into foreign markets.

If you have any questions about these provisions or any other part of the bill, please contact Michael Kaiser, Director of Public Affairs at mkaiser@wineamerica.org.