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Administrative Changes To State And Federal Agencies

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SLA WELCOMES NEW GENERAL COUNSEL

At the State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) full-board meeting on February 1, 2023, Chairman Vincent Bradley welcomed Shannon Kearney Sarfoh. She was appointed SLA general counsel to on January 19, 2023. Counsel Sarfoh is charged with the responsibility of overseeing Counsel’s Office, which provides legal support and advice to the agency and the Members of the SLA. Before joining the agency, Counsel Sarfoh served as Special Victims Unit Chief of the Office of the Albany County District Attorney. We join Chairman Bradley and the beverage-alcohol bar in welcoming Counsel Sarfoh to the SLA.

LIFE GOES ON—OR DOES IT?

Many aspects of the business operations of entities with alcoholic beverage licenses or permits require timely regulatory approval. Failure to obtain approval can result in penalties, business interruption, or loss of a license or permit.

The TTB issues federal basic permits to manufacturers, importers, and wholesalers of alcoholic beverages. These industry members violate federal law if they deal in alcoholic beverages without holding active federal basic permits. The TTB issues a federal basic permit to a specific entity at a specific premise and specific people associated with that entity, including owners, officers, and certain managers.

A permittee must notify the TTB if there is a change to the ownership or management of the permitted entity. By law, the permittee must notify the TTB within 30 days of the change. Failure to timely notify the TTB of such a change results in the automatic termination of the permit.

Permittees and their representatives sometimes realized that there had been a change that required notice to the TTB long after the 30-day period passed. In the past, permittees commonly filed the required notifications or amendments late and the TTB often did not raise the issue.  

Be warned that those days are over. When an application for a change in control to the permittee is filed, the TTB examines the filed documents and takes note of the date the transaction took place. If more than thirty days passed since the transfer, the TTB has been  notifying the permit holder that its permit is no longer valid.

This can have profound consequences beyond needing to reapply for a new permit. Any purchases or sales that took place after the permit expired are technically illegal. Being issued a new permit could mean a new permit number. A new permit number could result in huge administrative headaches for the permittee. For example, agreements with suppliers or wholesalers may need to be amended, state permits may need to be updated or reapplied for, and brand-label registration and importation snags could result.

If the holder of the former permit is fortunate, the TTB will work with the company to quickly issue a new permit. If requested, the TTB may even agree to use the same permit number and allow the use of previously approved Certificates of Label Approval. Still, there is no guaranty.

On the other hand, the former permit holder will not be eligible for any portion of the reduced tax rate available under the Craft Beverage Modernization Act (“CBMA”) for any period during which its federal basic permit was invalid.

There is a basic axiom worth remembering. Never put yourself in the position of having to ask for a favor because you failed to take advantage of something to which you are entitled as a matter of right. Someone with a federal basic permit should file the appropriate notice or amendment within 30 days of each change of ownership, control, or management of the permittee.

CBMA IMPORTER REFUND CLAIMS SYSTEM

The TTB is preparing for the release of a new CBMA importer refund claims system. This system will allow importers to submit claims to take advantage of reduced tax rates and credits to which they are entitled under the CBMA. The system relies upon the Key Contact’s information stored in the TTB’s Permits Online System (PONL).

Those who intend to use the new system should confirm the Key Contact information as soon as possible. In particular, Key Contacts should verify their current email addresses are on file with PONL. Step-by-step instructions are available at www.ttb.gov.

This article is not intended to give specific legal advice.  Before taking any action, the reader should consult with an attorney familiar with the relevant facts and circumstances.

Written by

Keven Danow

Founding and Senior Partner
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