On December 23rd, 2016 the federal government published its Fall edition of the “Unified Agenda” – a bi-annual compilation of all ongoing federal rulemaking projects. Attached is a copy of the TTB detail from this latest Unified Agenda. As always, projected future publication dates should be viewed with a very healthy dose of skepticism.
TTB’s portion of the Unified Agenda identifies the following “priority” items:
- Final rules implementing the International Trade Data System (ITDS). TTB published these final rules on December 22, 2016 – mission accomplished.
- Revisions to TTB regulations to implement the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015” (PATH Act). Among other things, the PATH Act amended the Internal Revenue Code definition of “hard cider” and changed the bonding requirements for small excise taxpayers. While listed as a priority for action in late 2016, TTB has shown little ability to quickly amend its regulations to reflect statutory changes enacted by Congress (see Taxpayer Relief Act note below).
- Revisions to modify and streamline TTB’s wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverage labeling regulations. This item has appeared in the Unified Agenda for several years, and apparently stems from a January 2011 Executive Order requiring the identification and elimination of outmoded and burdensome regulations. The Unified Agenda lists a December 2016 publication date for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on this subject.
- Back on the “priority” list of this Unified Agenda is the NPRM permitting the self-certification of nonbeverage product formulas. Projected publication of that NPRM now has slipped to September 2017.
- A project to combine the current four forms required for reporting by distilled spirits plants (DSPs) into two report forms now receives priority status. Originally proposed in December 2011, TTB now expects to publish a 2017 “Supplemental NPRM” to gather more comments on the subject.
Among the other TTB rulemaking projects industry members may take an interest in are the following:
- TTB’s allergen labeling rulemaking, initiated in April 2005, remains on the Unified Agenda, but under the heading of “Next Action Undetermined.” This suggests that TTB may walk away from mandatory allergen labeling altogether.
- TTB is considering amendments to the “standards of fill” for wine and distilled spirits, with an NPRM projected date of April 2017.
- A new item proposes an NPRM to amend the wine labeling regulations in order to better address the labeling of flavored wines. The project arises from a petition received by TTB and projects an April 2017 publication date.
- TTB has withdrawn (and presumably abandoned) the rulemaking project, commenced in 2010, to further define the use of terms like “estate bottled” on wine labels.
- TTB continues to plan for a “Supplemental NPRM” to solicit additional comments on the use of an American viticultural area as an appellation on a wine finished in an adjacent state. TTB now expects to publish the Supplemental NPRM in January 2017.
- Final rules arising from the August 2016 NPRM proposal to impose certain Federal Alcohol Administration Act labeling requirements on wines below 7% alcohol by volume are expected in September 2017.
- TTB expects to publish an NPRM to permit the labeling of fortified wines in a manner that discloses the addition of grape spirits or brandy to the wine in September 2017.
- TTB still promises action to adopt regulations implementing the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. That NPRM now is scheduled to appear in April 2017.