As recovery begins in the areas of Northern California devastated by fires last week — and as fires continue to burn in some places — it is hard to put our feelings of sorrow for those affected into words. The fear of living through fire is trauma enough; when that is topped by actual loss, loss of home, loss of livelihood, even loss of loved ones, the trauma can seem inconsolable.
As recovery begins, we at Sovos again extend our deepest sympathies for those who have suffered. But we also want to offer support as best we can. We’ve compiled a quick guide on how those recovering can seek relief from regulatory agencies.
Federal Recovery Services
At the Federal level, the TTB has already responded to the fires with this announcement of a tax penalty waiver.
To receive this waiver, you must first ensure you are in an area declared a Major Disaster by FEMA. To check the list of areas declared Major Disasters, go here. If you are in an affected area, you must then also contact the TTB National Revenue Center to receive forms to request the waiver. You can contact the TTB NRC:
By mail: 550 Main Street, Room 8002, Cincinnati, OH 45202-5215
By telephone (toll free): 877-882-3277
Via online inquiry: Use TTB’s National Revenue Center Contact Form
You should also file a claim for an excise tax refund for any products lost or damaged. This claim must be filed within 6 months of the loss, and cannot be used for products already covered by insurance. Information on the TTB’s disaster claims policies, including how to fill out form 5620.8, can be found here.
Though it is not alcohol-specific, the IRS has also announced relief provisions for all businesses and individuals affected by the fires.
California Agency Relief
The California Board of Equalization (BOE) offers a standard three-month extension for filing sales, property, and alcohol taxes. The list of impacted counties whose residents can seek relief is available here. General information on seeking disaster relief from the BOE is available here.
The California Franchise Tax Board has announced tax extensions for individuals and businesses affected by the fires. More information on the extended due dates, how to receive replacement tax forms, and other relief is available here.
The California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control has issued a notice to licensees affected by the fires, available here. This notice goes over how licensees can address relocations, storage of product, returns and breakages, and waivers of licensing fees. The ABC itself has been adversely affected by the fires, having to close its Santa Rosa office over the last week, though it appears that the agency is now set to help support licensees.
Other State Agencies
Only the Iowa Department of Revenue has issued a specific notice providing relief for those affected by the fires. However, Sovos has heard South Dakota is also looking to adjust fees and penalties, though on a case-by-case basis. Iowa’s statement largely follows IRS policies, and can be read here.
State agencies will often follow the lead of federal agencies, so we do expect that more states will be open to offering waivers and extensions to those affected by the fires. If you are concerned about specific states, we recommend reaching out directly to the relevant agency and explaining your circumstances.
For those looking for more information on how to receive relief, Hinman & Carmichael has put together this guide to agency relief.
Wine Institute has also created this page for resources for those affected by the fires, with lots of information on seeking insurance claims and sources for offering donations.