Federal Government Extends Tax Filing Deadlines for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Businesses Because of the Coronavirus

As local and state governments continue to implement protective measures against the global coronavirus pandemic, businesses have had to adapt quickly. Many businesses have had to close indefinitely because of “shelter in place” orders that urge people to remain home except for essential functions. The IRS has extended the deadline for paying income taxes and filing returns. Other federal agencies have taken similar actions. A de facto ban on social gatherings in many parts of the country has almost certainly had an impact on businesses that sell alcohol, along with other businesses regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). In late March 2020, this agency announced postponement of multiple filing and tax deadlines.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Like the IRS, the TTB is part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It was created when the Homeland Security Act of 2002 moved the law enforcement functions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to the Department of Justice. The Treasury Department retained ATF’s regulatory and tax collection roles and transferred them to the newly created TTB. It has authority over the federal taxation of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms.

National Emergency

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) gives the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to postpone payment and filing deadlines in the event of a “federally declared disaster.” The president made an emergency declaration on March 13, 2020.

While the statute provides that the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to postpone tax deadlines, it also allows delegation of that function. Much like the IRS has authority over individual and business income taxes, the TTB has authority over the tax deadlines of the industries it regulates.

Excise Taxes

The TTB collects excise taxes from members of the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms industries, and it requires them to file periodic returns. Excise taxes and returns for sales of alcohol, tobacco products, and cigarette papers and tubes are due on a semi-monthly basis. Starting with returns and payments originally due on March 13, 2020, the TTB has pushed those deadlines back by ninety days. This will continue until the deadline on June 29.

Alcohol sales also involve quarterly returns. The TTB has extended the deadline for the first quarter of 2020 by ninety days, from April 15 to July 14. The quarterly filing deadline for the firearms industry has been extended ninety days from April 30 to July 29.

Operational Reports

Due dates for operational reports from the alcohol and tobacco industry have also been extended by ninety days. This includes monthly reports for February through May, and quarterly reports for the first quarter of 2020.

Other Relief

TTB’s announcement also addressed the likelihood of unforeseen problems for the industries it regulates. It stated that it will consider “emergency variations from regulatory requirements” on a case-by-case basis. Industry members can also “seek additional relief from penalties imposed” for failing to pay tax or file a return.

If you need assistance with a tax-related matter, please contact the Enterprise Consultants Group today online or at (800) 575-9284. Our tax advisors are available to address your concerns, answer your questions, and discuss your rights and options.

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