The Annual Compliance Crunch
As I wallow in the January rains (we’re talking buckets here!) I can’t help but think of my fellow compliance professionals hip-deep in compliance reporting. For the uninitiated, the end of the holiday season brings the beginning of the compliance crunch. As bad as any income tax season faced by accountants in April, the compliance crunch occurs every January when annual direct shipment compliance reports come due for all of the wine shipments, tax payments and reconciliations from the previous year. Keep in mind, this is on top of the usual monthly reports and don’t forget to throw in the quarterly reports for those states requiring them. And let’s not forget annual TTB reports and reconciliations. Finally, for many winery administrators this also includes general business reporting such as payroll taxes and income taxes as well. I’m not trying to depress anyone, but my point clearly is that it’s a busy time that drains substantial resources from wineries as they devote extra effort and personnel to stay compliant. The Inertia team is developing RethinkCompliance with the goal of lightening the burden on our winery friends. OK, we can’t help you with the IRS, but RethinkCompliance will make direct shipment reporting for each state as simple as the punch of a few buttons. Generate the report and send it to the government (don’t forget the check!). Then, turn your attention to what you enjoy…making and selling your wine.
A couple of other reminders as we enter the new year: First, it’s a good time to revisit the renewal dates for all of your direct shipper licenses, and frankly, for all of your licenses. Some licenses are up for renewal at the first of each year, so obviously those need immediate attention. But even for those licenses that expire annually from the date of issuance, January is a good time to revisit renewal dates. Keep in mind some states do not send a renewal notice so it’s your responsibility to track the expiration dates. It’s a good idea to make a tickler file in your new 2008 datebook so that you are sure not to miss a renewal date as they approach. It’s also a good idea to give yourself a 30-day lead time prior to expiration. This will protect against time slipping away and your license expiring.
Second, keep in mind new laws or rule changes. January is the time of year when many new rules take effect and tax rates change. A good example is Oregon. New shipping permit requirements took effect on January 1, 2008 which are an exciting change that will allow wineries to ship direct to licensed Oregon retailers. There are new reporting rules and a bond requirement but Oregon is a wine saavy state with a strong wine and restaurant market. If you haven’t done so already, go to the Oregon website and download the new permit application form http://www.oregon.gov/OLCC/docs/liquor_license_and_license_process/new_wine_shipping/direct_shipper_outside_of_oregon.pdf.
As we move into 2008, my goal is to make RethinkCompliance the wineries’ free, easy and accurate source for compliance news, information, and most importantly, compliance checks and reporting to open the market and allow wineries to reach new fans.