As it does twice per year, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently published its projected Regulatory Agenda as part of the federal government’s “Unified Agenda.” Links to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s portions of the Unified Agenda appear below.
TTB’s latest contribution to the Unified Agenda lists six priority projects that it hopes to publish rulemaking notices on in 2016:
- Revise TTB’s import and export regulations to make them compatible with the International Trade Data System (ITDS). ITDS aims to create a single electronic exchange portal for all import and export activities. TTB expects to propose these new regulations by March 2016.
- Revise TTB’s labeling regulations for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages (beer) to eliminate outmoded, ineffective and excessively burdensome regulations. TTB plans to propose these revised regulations for industry and public comment sometime before the end of 2016.
- Finalize new regulations on specially denatured and completely denatured alcohols. Most notably, the new regulations would re-classify many specially denatured alcohol products as completely denatured alcohols – greatly reducing the amount of regulatory oversight over such products. The final regulations would build off a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in June of 2013, and TTB expects to finalize these regulations shortly.
- Propose new regulations to permit the self-certification of flavors and other non-beverage articles as eligible for “drawback.” By permitting industry self-certification, TTB would greatly reduce the number of regulatory filings required of the flavor, extract and fragrance industries. TTB expects to publish proposed regulations before June 2016, coupled with a “Temporary Rule” permitting industry members to begin self-certification immediately.
- Revise the Distilled Spirits Plant (DSP) regulations to reduce the TTB-mandated monthly reports required by DSP operators from four to two. $11,000 to $16,000.Already subject to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2011, TTB plans to press ahead with a “Supplemental” Notice by March 2016.
- Make an inflation-adjustment to the civil penalties for violations of the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act of 1988, which mandated the now-familiar Government Warning on all alcohol beverage labels. TTB plans to publish a Final Rule in 2016 to raise the maximum penalty for violations from $11,000 to $16,000.
In addition to the six priority items above, TTB’s portion of the Unified Agenda includes dozens of other rulemaking projects, from those completed in the most recent fiscal year to issues expected to be first raised in a rulemaking notice during the following year. As with prior years, the industry must view TTB’s expected publication and completion dates with a great degree of caution, as resource challenges, political pressure and other factors often delay the rulemaking process.