COVID-19 Roundup: TTB Postpones Excise Tax Payments; Craftworks Lays Off 18,000 Employees

TTB Delays Excise Tax Collection, Offers Online Claim Portal

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced Tuesday that it will postpone tax payments and filing deadlines as its constituent businesses grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To assist these businesses during this period, we are postponing several filing and payment due dates for 90-days where the original due date falls on or after March 1, 2020, through July 1, 2020,” the agency wrote in its Industry Circular on Tuesday.

The TTB is doing the following:

  • “Postponing tax payment due dates for wine, beer, distilled spirits, tobacco products, cigarette papers and tubes, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes.
  • Postponing filing due dates for excise tax returns.
  • Postponing filing due dates for submission of operational reports.
  • Postponing filing due dates for claims for credit or refund by producers.
  • Postponing filing due dates for claims by manufacturers of nonbeverage products.
  • Postponing due dates for submission of export documentation.
  • Considering emergency variations from regulatory requirements for affected businesses on a case-by-case basis.
  • Reviewing requests for relief from penalties based on reasonable cause.”

Though the TTB has delayed excise tax payments for domestic beer, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced it will consider tax extensions “on a case by case basis” for imported goods.

Because access to mail sent to its offices is limited, the TTB has created an online form for tax claims.

“Expect significant delays for claims submitted in hard copy by mail,” the TTB wrote in a newsletter on March 30.

CraftWorks Lays Off 18,000 Employees and Health Care Benefits

Craftworks Holdings — the Nashville, Tennessee-headquartered parent company of beer-centric chains Gorden Biersch, Rock Bottom, Old Chicago and Logan’s Roadhouse, as well as other smaller restaurant concepts — has laid off its nationwide staff of 18,000 people, according to Westword.

Employees were notified by email March 31 that their employment, as well as their healthcare benefits, were terminated.

Last month, Craftworks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company permanently closed nearly 40 locations in the weeks before its bankruptcy filing.

Rather than offer takeout or delivery services, most locations shut down on March 18, except for a few franchise-owned restaurants. At the time of its Chapter 11 filing, Craftworks had 261 company-owned locations in 29 states and Washington, D.C., across its various brands. The 77 franchise locations were not involved in the bankruptcy proceeding.

Westworld obtained a copy of the letter CEO Marc Buehler sent to workers informing them that their status with Craftoworks was changing from furloughed to unemployed.

“Due to the current state of affairs in the bankruptcy process, the Company’s existing benefit plans will be terminated effective March 31, 2020,” Buehler wrote. “Regrettably, because the plans are being terminated, there will be no COBRA continuation coverage available under the group health plans.”

In the letter, Buehler wrote that Craftworks plans to “work diligently towards a reopening date” and the company is “looking forward to the day when we hope to bring many of you back with a new suite of benefits.”

California ABC Grants 30-Day Extension on License Renewal Fees

California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) announced today a 30-day extension for annual license renewal fees and late renewal penalty fees, effective immediately.

“We know businesses are hurting as they continue fighting to slow the spread of COVID -19,” ABC director Jacob Appelsmith said in a press release. “We hope this 30-day grace period will help them through this stretch as we all work together to help businesses and keep communities safe.”

For businesses with licenses expiring in March and April, the last day to pay in a timely manner is April 1 and April 30, respectively. The last day to pay without penalty for March expirations is May 1 and for April expirations, June 1. A 50% penalty will be added for payments made between May 2 and July 1 for March-expiring licenses and between June 2 and July 29 for April-expiring licenses.

The ABC published a document detailing the recent regulatory relief changes’ effects by license type.

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