Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TTB Issues Intructions on How to File A Disaster Claim


Businesses may file claims with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for the payment (refund or allowance of credit) of Federal excise taxes paid on beverage alcohol or tobacco products lost, rendered unmarketable, or condemned by a duly authorized official under various circumstances, including where the President has declared a major disaster. Where to obtain further information, conditions on claims, and where to file claims, are described below.
Links to further information:
Claims are subject to a number of conditions, including:
  • You must file your claim with TTB within 6 months from the date of a disaster. If the President declares or determines a major disaster, claims must be filed no later than 6 months from the date the President declared the major disaster.
  • Products lost due to theft are not eligible for payment.
  • For distilled spirits, wine, and beer, TTB will not allow claims for less than $250 for losses resulting from a disaster unless the President has declared a major disaster area. There is no minimum dollar amount placed on claims relating to presidentially declared disasters.
  • For tobacco products, cigarette papers and tubes, the $250 minimum claim amount does not apply. Retailer or wholesaler claims can only be filed if the loss is due to a presidentially declared disaster area.
  • TTB will not pay claims if your insurance covers the amount of the Federal excise tax paid. For example, if your insurance policy covers the full amount that you paid for destroyed alcohol or tobacco products, including the amount paid for any excise tax, then you are not eligible to file a claim for those products.
  • Your claim must state whether taxes were included in the purchase price of the products. If your claim includes imported products, you must state whether duties were included in the purchase price. Claims for customs duties must be submitted separately to U.S. Customs. Claims for tax on products of Puerto Rico must be filed with the government of Puerto Rico.
  • You must prove that you owned the products at the time of the disaster with the intent to sell them.
  • If your goods were in transit, you may be eligible for payment if you hold title to those goods. If any portion of your claim includes goods in transit, please include a statement indicating who held title at the time of the disaster.
  • TTB will pay claims without interest on an amount equal to taxes paid or determined on distilled spirits, wine, beer or tobacco products lost, made un-merchantable, or condemned by a duly authorized official as a result of fire, flood, or other disaster. Before you destroy any un-merchantable or condemned products, contact TTB and ask if the Bureau wants to witness the destruction.
  • 26 U.S.C. 5064, for alcohol, and 26 U.S.C. 5705 and 5708, for tobacco, are the sections of the Internal Revenue Code which will allow you to file your claim for payment under various circumstances relating to disasters.
Filing your claim:
File your claim(s) using TTB Form 5620.8 CLAIM — ALCOHOL, TOBACCO AND FIREARMS TAXES, and mail the form to the following address:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
National Revenue Center
550 Main Street
Suite 8002
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-5215

For more information contact:
If you have questions regarding filing a claim or on Federal excise taxes, please call the National Revenue Center at: 1–877–882–3277 or 513–684–3334; or e-mail TTB at ttbquestions@ttb.treas.gov.

In addition: 
When filing a claim, you must provide the following information on TTB Form 5620.8 in Item 11 for losses incurred:
  • Distilled Spirits — Brand, type, bottle size, bottles per case, alcohol content (% or proof), number of cases, proof gallons per case, total in proof gallons, tax rate per unit, and total tax.
  • Wine — Brand, type, bottle size, bottles per case, percent of alcohol by volume, liters per case, number of cases, total liters, tax rate per unit, and total tax.
  • Beer — Brand, size of unit, number of units, tax rate per unit, and total tax.
  • Tobacco Products and Cigarette Papers and Tubes — Brand, type of tobacco product, unit of measure, total quantity, tax rate, and total tax. Provide proof that the products were taxed at the rate you are claiming or were removed tax paid during the period that the rate was effective.
PLEASE NOTE: Supporting documentation is necessary to process your claim without delay. You must submit on the claim form any evidence or statement made by State or local officials regarding the condition of the property. You must include a copy of your insurance policy with your claim. If your records are lost, you must obtain other supporting documentation that might be available such as copies of invoices from your supplier, copies of inventory records from your accountant, or copies of banking or insurance records.

TTB I 1200.68 (08-2011) Previous editions obsolete.
Page Last Updated/Reviewed:  08/26/2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Registration is Now Open for the Fall 2011 WineAmerica Board of Directors and Membership Meeting in

The 2011 WineAmerica Fall Board of Directors and Membership Meeting is rapidly approaching.  This year we are very excited to be going to Boise, Idaho. 

This year’s Fall Meeting is very important.  There have been many changes at WineAmerica this year and the future of the organization is now more essential than ever with issues such as H.R. 1161 threatening the industry.  We hope that you can join us.

November 7-9, 2011
Hotel 43
Boise, ID

Hotel Accommodations: Please Book These on Your Own
Rates: $109, taxes not included
Cutoff date for the room block is October 3, 2011.  Hotel rooms fill up fast.  Please make your hotel reservations before this date!
To book a room set aside for WineAmerica meeting participants, please call Hotel 43 at 208-342-4622 and reference the WineAmerica Fall Meeting.
To register for the meeting please go here: http://www.wineamerica.org/membership/fallmeeting.cfm

Friday, August 26, 2011

Time for Payment of Certain Excise Taxes, and Quarterly Excise Tax Payments for Small Alcohol Excise Taxpayers

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is adopting, as a final rule, regulations contained in a temporary rule pertaining to the semimonthly payments of excise tax on distilled spirits, wine, beer, tobacco products, and cigarette papers and tubes, and pertaining to the quarterly payment of alcohol excise tax by small taxpayers. This final rule action does not include those regulations contained in the temporary rule pertaining to part 19 of the TTB regulations, which were adopted as a final rule in a separate regulatory initiative. 

To read the final rule please go here:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WineAmerica signs Joint Letter on Alcohol Temperature Expressing

Wine Institute and WineAmerica are requesting assistance from TTB’s Scientific Services Division for the purpose of determining whether TTB regulations and requirements can be modified so that the temperature at which percentage of alcohol by volume is expressed is consistent with the international standard of 20 degrees Celsius.

Numerous regulations and a US statute define “proof” and “proof gallon” in terms of ethyl alcohol content of a liquid at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.i For wine at least, virtually all other countries have adopted the international standard temperature of 20 degrees Celsius-- the US is the only country that still adheres to the temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.56 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Protecting Your Business in an Evolving Wine Shipping Market

By Cary M. Greene

Back in 2009, we wrote about several investigations by state alcohol beverage regulators questioning the use of third parties in facilitating direct to consumer shipping—marketing portals, online retailers, pick and pack warehouses, and similar businesses.  While the situation has improved substantially in a number of ways since then—there are now a variety of companies with interesting business models that try to ensure wineries can remain compliant with state licensing laws—you still need to be careful.

Regulators generally want some measure of market transparency—clear and simple transactions they can follow from beginning to end.  Because it’s axiomatic in alcohol beverage law that if a transaction is not permitted, it’s prohibited, regulators in an alcohol beverage context have the power to turn a desire for market transparency into enforceable rules.  As a result, non-conforming transactions that don’t fit within a proscribed regulatory scheme are not simply suspect, they’re potentially illegal.

It’s understandable that wineries would turn to third party solutions to make wine direct shipping simpler and more profitable.  After all, in most business contexts, if a business model isn’t working, you try another.  But alcohol beverage law isn’t generally oriented toward allowing businesses to develop market solutions for their problems.  Wineries and other businesses may only ship wine direct to consumers within the confines of the complex system as it exists, even where that system is expensive and difficult to manage.

Wineries, in other words, must carefully examine the business practices of potential outside service provider partners.  If a business is pitching you to provide logistical or other support in your direct shipping operations, there are at least three rules you should follow:

First, most states that allow direct shipping require each direct shipper to be licensed separately.  The idea of businesses pooling together to get a joint license isn’t really contemplated by most state direct shipping laws, nor do most state laws account for wineries shipping their products through the license of an outside service provider.  Generally speaking, these practices are seen by most state regulators as trying to get around inconvenient local law.

Second, a transaction involving an outside service provider may affect laws in your state in ways you have not anticipated.  Make certain whomever you sell the wine to, that the sale is legitimate and within the contemplation of your winery license.

Third, transactions involving an outside service provider may affect the laws of the delivery state.  Even if a practice is legal back home, it doesn’t mean the practice is legal everywhere.  We live in a weird world, and definitions for the simplest concepts, like, what constitutes a “sale,” are endlessly sticky.  Take the time to ensure the business you’re working with has done their homework reputable, and that you are complying with the terms of your out-of-state shippers’ permits.

There are a variety of reputable shipping businesses that take compliance with respect to direct shipping transactions seriously, but this isn’t universally true.  WineAmerica will continue working with our friends at the state and federal level to try to simplify and reduce the cost of direct shipping.  Until the law changes, however, we urge you to make sure you are shipping in ways that protect your hard earned business reputation.  It is simply not worth the consequences to get out too far ahead of the law.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Talk with WineAmerica's Cary Greene

WineAmerica's Cary Greene gave an interview with Wine and Spirits Daily.  It was published today.  

WineAmerica is a grassroots organization that represents large and small wineries in approximately 48 states. It started in 1978 as an eastern regional wineries association, and ultimately transitioned to a national organization in the mid-1990s. They represent both their paying membership and more than 60 state winery associations around the country at both the state and federal level. "If you take into account both our membership and the affiliation that we have with state winery associations, we end up representing most of the nation's wineries on Capitol Hill," Cary Greene, WineAmerica's chief operating officer and general counsel, recently told WSD. "We also work a lot with our industry partners, including the Wine Institute, in state legislatures and work closely with the state associations to try and make sure that wineries have the best policy possible to get their products to market." And it's no easy task as the wine industry is still relatively young, and has grown "from fewer than 600 wineries 30 years ago to more than 7,000 now." So what are some of the biggest issues they are facing right now? It all boils down to wineries having the ability to remain profitable.

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TTB Makes Change to Approval of Personalized Labels

by Michael Kaiser

The following story was posted by the Associated Press today:

Schumer: Feds move to speed wine bottle labeling 

Associated Press


ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Sen. Charles Schumer says the federal government is taking an important step to simplify the process of approving labels for New York wines.

Schumer has been pressing the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau this summer to clear up a labeling logjam. Dozens of New York's 300-plus wineries say getting approval for new labels is sometimes taking months instead of days.

Schumer says Tuesday the agency has agreed to immediately begin approving template labels for custom winemakers. Wineries have complained they need approval each time they made small changes to artwork or names on labels designed for special events like weddings or birthdays.

Over the last decade, the agency says its staff has been reduced by budget cutbacks while label-approval applications from wineries nationwide have almost doubled.

Senator Schumer's office contacted WineAmerica for information about the label approval process and we suggested this to them as a step that TTB could take to speed up COLA approvals.  Three years ago the TTB began requiring new COLA submittals for each different form of artwork used on personalized labels.   In the past they allowed "template labels' be used for personalized labels.  That is, a generic label is submitted with the understanding that the winery will not violate labeling regulations on the bottled wine.  WineAmerica supports TTB's decision to once again allow "template labels" be used for personalized labels.  Fewer submissions will reduce the time needed to review COLA submissions that do require approval.  We applaud Senator Schumer's for his efforts on this issue.