The TTB is shutdown. Those were the words those of us in the compliance world of wine woke up to yesterday. It still sounds so surreal to me. So what exactly does it mean? For wineries? For those wanting to start their new wine business?
Here's a brief summation of what "can" and what "can't" currently be done right now depending on which category you fall into as well as my suggestions for what else to be doing right now to have ready for when the TTB comes back to life.
What you can (& must) continue to do:
- Submit your monthly report (702) and excise tax reports via the Pay.gov site
What you can't do:
- Submit new label approvals
- Talk to or email anybody at the TTB
- Submit new applications for AP host filings
- Submit any other TTB permit update filings
My suggestions for what to do right now if you have any of the above (or other) pending items:
- Prepare all necessary items for your label approvals, permit update filings, etc as you would normally. Have them essentially at "ready to go" status.
- When the TTB does re-open for business all you'll have to do is logon to COLAs online or send off a mailing which has been prepared ahead of time. For anything that goes out in the mail I'd also recommend either priority mail or UPS/FedEx for your delivery source. For both speed of delivery and traceability.
For those wanting to start a new wine business (custom crush client, AP tenant, new winery):
What you can do:
- Prepare all your application materials. This includes the state level of applications, which tend to take longer than the TTB in their approval times. These state applications can even be submitted now. Here in California the ABC offices do require a copy of your approved TTB permit for anyone applying for their type 02-Winegrower license. However you can get the ball rolling with their approval process and you'll already have the info & items ready to submit to the TTB once they are back in business. They don't require this for those of you applying for the 17/20 type licenses.
What you can't do:
- Submit your TTB application. Currently their online permit filing system, Permits Online is unavailable. I tried to access it yesterday for a pending permit and was only taken to an "unaccessible" message screen
My suggestions for what to do right now:
- As mentioned above- you can go ahead and prepare and submit your state application materials. Get the wheels turning on those as they do tend to take sometimes 2 or more months longer than the TTB to approve.
- Prepare and submit your other necessary applications. Here in California you'll need a permit (Seller's) with the CA Board of Equalization. (BOE) This can be filed for online, and it is also directly connected to your CA ABC license.
- If you need additional local licenses or permits (business license, LLC or corporation filings, FBN filings, etc. these can also be set up now.
This shutdown is less than convenient. I'm sure the TTB staff feels similarly. But the wine business continues on despite the government's situation. We'll continue to do our thing and many others are still excitedly planning to start their own wine businesses. My suggestion for everyone is borrowed from the boy scouts: Be prepared.