As we are all happily aware, Massachusetts joined the ranks of direct to consumer (DtC) states at the beginning of 2015. Now that a year has passed, wineries will soon have to file an annual shipping report for their DtC sales in the state. As this is the first year the report will be due, we wanted to relate what we know about this report and make sure everyone’s aware of the need to file.
As part of the direct shipping law, wineries are required to file an annual report of their DtC sales to the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). Notably, this is in addition to the annual shipping report being sent to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. The report to the ABCC must be filed in the month of January (that is, the report must be in no later than January 31, 2016), and should indicate every Massachusetts consumer who received direct shipments of wine and how much wine they did receive.
Many of you may already have received a notice from the ABCC regarding this report, which described how to format your report and included an example spreadsheet to mimic. (The ABCC is not planning on issuing a prepared report, and will instead accept bespoke reports–as long as they include the important information.) An annual direct shipping report should take the form of a spreadsheet and be saved as a .csv file.
It is necessary that a winery’s report include separate columns for each of the headings listed in the ABCC’s notice. This includes information regarding the consumer’s name (Salutation, First, Middle, Last, and Suffix–all in separate columns), the consumer’s address (Street Number, Street Name, Address, City or Town, State, and Zip), and the consumer’s order information (Total Gallons of Wine Shipped, Total Value of Wine Shipped, and Date of Shipment). ShipCompliant clients will be able to populate and use a template spreadsheet that we will have prepared by January.
Once a winery has compiled its .csv file, with the proper column headings, and data on who received what in Massachusetts, the winery will need to upload the file to an online portal. Starting around January 1st, the ABCC will send out notices to DtC licensees, providing both another reminder to file the annual report and a link to this portal. By clicking on the link, a winery will be directed to log in by using its DtC license number. Once inside the portal, all of the winery’s license information will be pre-generated, and all the winery will need to do is upload its .csv file with the previous year’s data.
The drive behind this report is to ensure that wineries do not exceed the 12 case per consumer limit (9 liters of wine per case). Thus, while a winery does not need to necessarily fill out every field for every customer (for instance, most customers likely won’t have suffixes), there must be enough information for the ABCC to verify that for every customer listed, the total number of gallons shipped does not exceed the limit.
If a Massachusetts consumer makes more than one order in a year, however, a winery can list these orders on separate rows and indicate on each row the total number of gallons they shipped in that particular shipment. But, again, it is necessary that, when a Massachusetts consumer makes multiple orders, the total gallonage for all orders doesn’t exceed 12 cases.
The January 31st due date will be strictly enforced by the ABCC, so all parties licensed for DtC in Massachusetts must make sure to upload their report through the online portal in January. If you happen to have multiple direct licenses, you must file a report for each license number. Conveniently, once you have uploaded for one license, you can simply log out of the portal, and log back in under the different license number. That is, the portal will be generic for all licensees, and you will not need to click the link in each email you may receive from the ABCC, depending on the number of licenses you have.
If you happen to discover after filing that certain orders were left off of your .csv file, you can amend your report by filing a recompiled .csv file through the portal. This updated file must include all of your direct sales data, not merely the missing orders, as it will replace, not supplement, the previously uploaded file. However, if you notice the error only after January 31st, you must call up the ABCC, which will work with you to make sure the proper report has been filed with the state. (This leniency, though, will only be available to licensees who had actually submitted a report in January.)
Again, we at ShipCompliant will have a .csv file ready for clients to use by January. And if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send them to contact client services.