Tax Guide for Brewers and Distributors
Beginning January 1, 2023, all alcoholic beverage account holders are required to file online. Revenue and Taxation Code, section 32251, as amended by Stats. 2022, ch. 702.
Please continue to check back for more updates to our website. We will send notices to affected account holders soon.
California has the largest number of craft breweries in the United States and that number is increasing every year. We recognize that understanding and dealing with tax issues related to the brewing industry can be time-consuming and we want to help you get the information you need so you can spend more time focusing on your business.
We created this guide with topics important to your business to help you better understand your sales, use, and alcoholic beverage tax obligations.
How to Use This Guide
Each section of this guide contains information important to your business. The Getting Started section provides key resources related to registration, filing returns, account maintenance, required licenses, and other important topics.
The Ingredients section provides guidance on the sales and use tax application to items used in brewing beer.
The Industry Topics section covers many topics in an at-a-glance format that can be expanded to provide more extensive information.
Lastly, the Resources section provides links to a wealth of information, including web-based seminars, forms and publications, statutory and regulatory information, and access to live help from our customer service representatives.
Get It in Writing
Please note that the information included in this guide is general in nature and is not intended to replace any law or regulation. We understand our tax and fee laws can be complex, and we encourage you to send your specific tax or fee questions to us in writing. This will enable the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to give you the best advice and will help protect you from tax, penalties, and interest in case the information turns out to be erroneous.
To request written advice, please complete and submit the General, Non-Confidential Tax Questions Form online. For more details on how to request written advice, please see publication 8, Get It in Writing!
If You Need Help
If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide – or with topics not included – feel free to contact us by telephone or email. Contact information and hours of operation are available in the Resources section.
If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us via email.
If you operate a brewery and produce beer for sale, you must register for a seller's permit and file sales and use tax returns with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).
In addition to a seller's permit, you must register for an alcoholic beverage tax account with us if you are required to obtain any of the following licenses issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). After you apply with ABC, we will notify you of which alcoholic beverage account type you are required to register for with us.
- Beer Manufacturer (Type 01)—A "beer manufacturer" means any person that has facilities and equipment for the purpose of, and is engaged in, the commercial manufacture of beer.
- Small Beer Manufacturer (Type 23)—This license is designated for a brewery that produces less than 60,000 barrels per year.
- Beer and Wine Importer (Types 09 and 10)—These licenses permit the holders to import and export beer and wine and are only issued to persons who hold another type of license which permits the sale of beer and wine for resale.
- Customs Broker (Type 15)—"Customs broker" means any person who is authorized to act as an agent or broker for a person licensed as an importer or for a person whose place of business is outside California, in regard to the importing of alcoholic beverages into California under United States internal revenue bond or in United States customs bond.
- Beer and Wine Wholesaler (Type 17)—This license permits incidental sales to other supplier-type licenses. The Type 17 does not have an alcoholic beverage tax account registration requirement. However, it is typically issued in conjunction with a Type 09 (Beer and Wine Importer).
- Industrial Alcohol Dealer (Type 19)—An industrial alcohol dealer sells alcohol for use in the trades, professions, and industries, but not for beverage use (requires a seller's permit only).
- Out-of-state Beer Manufacturer Certificate (Type 26)—This certificate authorizes the shipment of beer manufactured outside of California to licensed importers within California.
- Brewpub-Restaurant (Type 75)—Authorizes the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits for consumption at a bona fide eating place (restaurant) and a limited amount of brewing of beer.
- Beer Vendor (Certificate of Compliance)—A Certificate of Compliance authorizes out-of-state vendors to ship beer into California.
For more information about alcoholic beverage licenses, please visit ABC's website.
Interstate Alcoholic Beverage Transporter's Permit
Before transporting shipments of alcoholic beverages into California, you must register with us and apply for an interstate alcoholic beverage transporter's permit if you are a:
- Common carrier (including trucking company carriers and air carriers, but excluding railroad and steamship companies)
- Out-of-state beer manufacturer or producer
The permit, once issued, is valid until revoked by us.
Online Registration—Register with us for your seller's permit or add a business location to an existing account.
Sales & Use Tax Returns
- Tax Return Filing Deadlines—Find your filing due dates.
- File a Tax Return Online—File online with us. The service is easy, fast, and free!
- Online Payment Options—Make payments online for tax and fee programs.
Certain equipment purchases and leases by brewers may qualify for a partial exemption from sales and use tax. To see if your purchases qualify, please see our Tax Guide for Manufacturing and Research & Development Equipment Exemption.
Certain purchases of farm equipment and machinery by qualified persons engaged in farming activity may be partially exempt from sales and use tax. To see if your purchases qualify, please see our Tax Guide for Agricultural Industry.
Alcoholic Beverage Tax Returns & Reports
Alcoholic beverage tax account holders are required to file the applicable alcoholic beverage tax returns, supplemental schedules, and reports in addition to their sales and use tax returns. In general, most alcoholic beverage tax returns, schedules, or reports are due on or before the 15th of the month following the period covered by the return, schedule, or report. For example, a return for January is due on or before February 15. However, some returns, schedules, or reports, such as the Vendor's Report of Beer Shipments into California (CDTFA-1056), have different filing requirements. Be sure to follow the return, schedule, or report instructions for filing requirement.
You must file a return, schedule, or report even if you do not owe tax or have no activity for the reporting period. Tax returns filed after the due date are subject to a late penalty regardless of whether any tax is due. The penalty for filing a late alcoholic beverage return is 10 percent of the tax due or $50, whichever is greater.
All alcoholic beverage tax returns must be filed online, and supplemental schedules and reports are eligible to be filed online. We have developed Microsoft Excel templates to help you file your alcoholic beverage supplemental schedules and reports using our online services system. To obtain these Excel templates, please see the Online Filing tab in our Tax Guide for Alcoholic Beverage. You will be able to attach (upload) the completed Excel file when you file your return or report online.
- CDTFA-217, Common Carrier's Report of Delivery
- CDTFA-269-BM, Beer Imported into California
- CDTFA-269-BW, Beer and Wine Imported into California
- Beer Manufacturer Tax Return
- Beer and Wine Importer Tax Return
- CDTFA-1056, Vendor's Report of Beer Shipments into California
- CDTFA-1096, Customs Broker's Report of Transaction
Notice of Business Change
Go to www.cdtfa.ca.gov and log in with your username and password to update your account information when you sell your business, close your business, or change your mailing address, email address, or telephone number. If you prefer, you may use the links below to obtain the forms to notify us of changes. It is important to notify us so we can ensure you receive timely information, email reminders to electronically file, and other important updates.
You may also contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711) and select the option for Special Taxes and Fees or send a message through our website using our General, Non-Confidential Tax Questions Form.
This section provides guidance on the application of sales and use tax to ingredients and products used in the beer brewing process. Sales of ingredients and products to brewers may or may not be subject to tax, depending on whether they fall into one of the following categories:
- Food Products—Sales of food products intended for human consumption are not subject to sales and use tax. Therefore, ingredients used in the production of beer that are considered food products, such as grains, hops, and yeast are not subject to sales and use tax.
- Raw Materials—Sales and use tax does not apply to sales made to brewers of non-food products or ingredients that are purchased for incorporating into the finished product (beer) for sale.
- Manufacturing Aids—Sales and use tax applies to the sales of non-food products or ingredients that are purchased for use in manufacturing or producing the beer and not for the purpose of physically incorporating the item into the finished product.
Important Note: The application of sales and use tax for the ingredients and products listed on this page is based on their use in beer brewing as described in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 25.15, Materials for the production of beer. If the actual use of a product or ingredient is different than its described category on this page, (as it aligns with CFR, Section 25.15), then you may not rely upon the stated tax application for your purchases of the listed product or ingredient. Instead, you should contact the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for further guidance on the correct tax application regarding your specific use of the product or ingredient in question. Please visit our How to Contact Us page.
Food Products Are Not Subject to Sales and Use Tax
Sales of food products are not subject to sales and use tax when used to produce beer.
Examples of food products used in the production of beer:
- Grain of any kind
- Dry and liquid malt extracts
- Maple syrup
- Fruit juice
- Fruit concentrate
- Yeast and yeast products
- Enzymes (amylases, proteases, lipases, and cellulases)
Raw Materials or Ingredients Incorporated into Beer May Be Purchased for Resale
Brewers may purchase raw materials for resale (without the payment of tax) that become component parts of the finished product that will be resold.
Examples of non-food ingredients include those used in the brew to obviate cloudiness or to improve foaming qualities, and chemicals added to brew water to improve the taste of beer. These ingredients may be purchased for resale when the items are physically incorporated into the beer.
The following ingredients and products may be purchased for resale when incorporated into, and resold with, the finished product:
- Burton Salts
- Calcium Chloride
- Carbon Dioxide
- Century Special
- D & S Schaumade
- Gum Arabic
- Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
- Heading Powder
- Hydrated Lime
- KMS Crystals
- Lactic Acid
- Mitt Body Foam
- Nitrogen Gas
- Oak Chips or Particles
- P/L 104
- P/L 400
- Sodium Bisulfite
- Sulfuric Acid
- Tannic Acid
- Tartaric Acid
Please note, if the actual use of these products or ingredients is different than described above (as it aligns with CFR Section 25.15, Materials for the production of beer), you may not rely on the stated application of tax. Instead, you should contact the CDTFA for further guidance on the correct sales and use tax application regarding your specific use of the ingredient or product in question (How to Contact Us).
If you make beer for personal consumption, and do not intend to resell the beer you make, you may not purchase the above ingredients without sales and use tax. These ingredients may only be purchased without sales and use tax when they are intended to be incorporated into beer that will later be resold.
Purchases of Manufacturing or Processing Aids Are Subject to Sales and Use Tax
Sales and use tax applies to sales of products that are consumed in manufacturing beer and are not physically incorporated into the finished product. If property is purchased primarily as an aid in the manufacturing process, it is subject to sales and use tax, even though some portion may remain in the finished product.
Examples of manufacturing aids used to produce beer include:
- Products that stabilize color before fermentation.
- Chemicals that assist yeast during fermentation.
- Clarification or fining agents used to clarify beer (and typically filtered out of the product).
- Products that precipitate a chemical reaction during or after fermentation, prior to bottling or selling beer.
The sales of the following products to beer brewers when used as manufacturing aids are subject to sales and use tax:
- Activated Carbon
- Colloidal Clay
- Defoaming Agents
- Irish Moss
- Silicon Dioxide
- Talc Sierra Snow
Please note, if the actual use of these products or ingredients is different than described above (as it aligns with CFR Section 25.15, Materials for the production of beer), you may not rely on the stated application of sales and use tax. Instead, you should contact the CDTFA for further guidance on the correct sales and use tax application regarding your specific use of the ingredient or product in question (How to Contact Us).
Filing a Claim for Refund
If you believe you have paid tax in error on your purchases of ingredients or products used in beer brewing, you may be entitled to a refund of the overpaid sales and use tax.
A refund may generally be claimed at any time within the statute of limitations (generally three years). If you are seeking a refund for overpaid taxes on qualifying purchases of manufacturing or research and development equipment, the procedures are different depending on whether the original purchase was subject to sales tax or whether the original purchase was subject to use tax. The California Use Tax Information webpage provides more detailed information about use tax.
If the tax you paid was sales tax, you must request a refund from the retailer. The retailer would then file a claim for refund with the CDTFA. As the purchaser, you will need to provide the retailer with a completed resale certificate (CDTFA-230, General Resale Certificate, or similar form) and documented evidence that the original purchase should have qualified as raw material intended to be incorporated into the finished product. However, if the item on which you paid sales tax is a food product, a resale certificate is not necessary.
If the tax you paid was use tax (typically use tax applies when you purchase from an out-of-state vendor), you may file a claim for refund directly with the CDTFA. Simply complete form CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund or Credit, and mail it to the address provided. Indicate the reason for the refund is that the property purchased qualifies as a food product or raw material intended to be incorporated into the finished product.
If you paid sales or use tax on a manufacturing aid or other taxable property and subsequently resold it before making any use of it, you may take a deduction of the purchase price of the property on your sales and use tax return. You must take the deduction under the heading "Tax-paid purchases resold" on your return in the same period in which the sale of the property is included.
For more information on how to file a claim for refund, see publication 117, Filing a Claim for Refund.
Sales and Use Taxes in General
All retail sales of tangible personal property in California are subject to sales and use tax, unless the law provides a specific exemption or exclusion. The law defines a retail sale as a sale for a purpose other than resale in the regular course of business in the form of tangible personal property.
For beer manufacturers and distributors, most sales of beer are for resale to other licensees who are authorized to sell beer. Manufacturers or distributors that do make retail sales in California of beer or other items, such as new or used equipment, gift items, glassware, and accessories, generally owe sales tax on their sales. Sales of food intended for consumption on their premises are also taxable.
Use tax is a companion to California's sales tax, which applies to the use of property in California purchased from a retailer. For example, you may owe use tax when you purchase tangible personal property from an out-of-state vendor or foreign vendor for use in California without payment of tax. You may also owe use tax on property you purchased for resale without payment of tax but then remove from your resale inventory to use in California. To pay the use tax, report the purchase price of the taxable items under "Purchases Subject to Use Tax" on your sales and use tax return. Those purchases become part of the total amount that is subject to tax.
The statewide sales and use tax rate is 7.25 percent. In many areas of California, local jurisdictions have added district taxes that increase the applicable tax rate. To find the tax rate for an address or location, please visit our Find a Sales and Use Tax Rate webpage and enter the address as prompted.
Alcoholic Beverage Tax in General
The alcoholic beverage tax is a per-gallon excise tax collected on the sale, distribution, or importation of alcoholic beverages in California. The alcoholic beverage tax is in lieu of all county, municipal, and district taxes on the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits.
Generally, beer manufacturers and importers are required to pay the alcoholic beverage tax. If the tax has not been paid by beer manufacturers or importers, then the sellers of beer must pay it.
The current alcoholic beverage tax rate per gallon of beer is $0.20. Check our webpage Tax Rates—Alcoholic Beverage Tax for any changes in the tax rate.
If you operate a farm that grows hops or barley or that processes hops and malt, make sure you know about the tax-saving opportunities that may be available to you. This section explains how sales and use tax and exemptions generally apply to farm equipment and machinery, diesel fuel used in farming or food processing, seeds and plants, fertilizer, soil amendments, pesticides, insecticides, and manufacturing equipment.Open All Close All
In general, the sale of farm equipment and machinery is taxable; however, certain sales and purchases of farm equipment and machinery (including repair and replacement parts) are partially exempt from sales and use tax. As a farmer, you may qualify for this partial exemption.
The partial exemption applies only to the state’s General Fund and Local Revenue Fund 2011 portions of the sales tax , currently 5 percent.
Three requirements defined in Regulation 1533.1 must be met for the partial exemption from sales and use tax to apply. The item must be:
- Purchased by a qualified person,
- Used exclusively or primarily (depending on the type of item) in producing and harvesting agricultural products. Primarily means at least 50 percent of the time, and
- Defined as farm equipment and machinery, which includes any tool, machine, equipment, appliance, device, or apparatus used in the conduct of agricultural operations.
If any one of these three requirements is not met, the partial exemption will not apply.
Examples of farm equipment and machinery that may qualify include:
- Planting and seeding equipment
- Crop-spraying equipment
- Harvesting equipment
- Trimming tools
- Solar power systems, under certain circumstances
- Irrigation equipment
If you lease rather than purchase farm equipment, you may still qualify for the partial sales and use tax exemption. For more information about leases, please see publication 46, Leasing Tangible Personal Property.
Mobile transportation equipment generally does not qualify for the partial exemption unless it is used exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations and qualifies as an implement of husbandry under the California Vehicle Code. For a list of items that generally do not qualify for the farm equipment and machinery partial exemption, please see our special notice, Auto Part Retailers' Sales Generally Do Not Qualify for the Farm Equipment and Machinery Partial Exemption.
For more information about this partial exemption and other exemptions available for farming, please see our Tax Guide for Agricultural Industry and look under the Farming Exemptions tab.
Most sales and/or purchases of diesel fuel are subject to sales and use tax. However, there is a partial exemption from sales and use tax for certain sales and purchases of diesel fuel used in farming activities or food processing.
For information on when the partial exemption applies to the sale or purchase of diesel fuel used in farming activities or food processing, please see our Tax Guide for Agricultural Industry, look under the Farming Exemptions tab, and go to the Diesel Fuel Tax Exemption for Diesel Fuel used on a Farm for Farming Purposes topic.
In addition to the partial sales and use tax exemption, there is an exemption for sales of dyed diesel fuel. For more information on the diesel fuel tax exemptions, please see our Tax Guide for Motor Fuel Taxes and select the Diesel Fuel Tax option under the Industry Topics tab.
Retail sales of seeds and landscaping plants are generally subject to sales and use tax.
However, there is an exemption from the sales and use tax for sales and purchases of seeds and plants when:
- The seeds, or the products grown from them, will be used as food for human consumption, such as hops.
- The plants will produce food for human consumption, such as fruits, grains, berries, or nuts.
In addition to the partial sales and use tax exemption, there is the diesel fuel tax exemptions, please see our Tax Guide for Motor Fuel Taxes and select the Diesel Fuel Tax option under the Industry Topics tab.
For more information, please see Regulation 1588, Seeds, Plants and Fertilizer.
Sales and use tax does not apply to the sale of fertilizer to be applied to land or used in foliar application to plants, provided the land and plants are used to produce food products (grains, hops, berries).
The term fertilizer includes all the following:
- Commercial fertilizers (as defined in section 14522 of the California Food and Agricultural Code)
- Agricultural minerals (as defined in section 14512 of the California Food and Agricultural Code)
- Cover crops that will be planted on the land and plowed underneath to fertilize that land
- Carbon dioxide
- Manure, which is:
- Waste from any domestic animal or fowl that is not artificially mixed with any material; or
- Domestic animal or fowl waste mixed only with materials used for preservation of the manure, or with materials used for bedding, sanitary, or feeding purposes for the animal or fowl.
Other retail sales of fertilizer and packaged soil amendments (as defined in section 14552 of the California Food and Agricultural Code, other than manures sold without guarantees for plant nutrients) and auxiliary soils and plants substances (as defined in section 14513 of the California Food and Agricultural Code other than carbon dioxide) are taxable.
Sales of pesticides and insecticides are taxable; however, when those materials are mixed with fertilizer, the portion of the sales price representing the price of the fertilizer is not taxable if the fertilizer is used in a tax-exempt manner.
For more information, please see Regulation 1588, Seeds, Plants and Fertilizer.
Manufacturing and Research & Development Topics
Manufacturers and certain research and developers may qualify for a partial exemption from sales and use tax on certain manufacturing and research and development equipment purchases and leases.
Manufacturers, certain researchers and developers, and certain electric power generators and distributors may qualify for a partial exemption from sales and use tax on the purchase or lease of qualified machinery and equipment primarily used in manufacturing, research and development, and electric power generation or production, storage, or distribution.
In general, to be eligible, you must meet all these conditions:
- You must be engaged in certain types of business, also known as a “qualified person,”
- You must purchase “qualified tangible personal property,” and
- You must use the property in a qualified manner.
As a beer producer, some of your purchases may qualify for a manufacturing partial exemption. Some examples of machinery and equipment that may qualify for the exemption include brewing equipment, heating systems, bottling equipment, and fermentation tanks.
For more specific information on the partial manufacturing exemption, please visit our Tax Guide for Manufacturing and Research & Development Equipment Exemption.
If you are a beer manufacturer, this section provides information that will assist you in preparing returns.
California breweries are required to complete and file a beer manufacturer tax return online each month, including months with no activity.
You may file your Beer Manufacturer Tax Return electronically using our Online Services. The return is due on or before the 15th day of the month following the reporting period. A return filed or payment made after the due date, regardless of whether any tax was due, will incur a penalty of $50 or 10 percent of the tax due, whichever is greater, plus any accrued interest.
In determining the alcoholic beverage tax due on the sale of beer in bottles or cans, the quantity sold shall be computed in accordance with the following table listed below.
|NUMBER OF BOTTLES
OR CANS PER CASE
|FLUID CONTENTS (Ounces)
OF EACH BOTTLE OR CAN
Each barrel of beer contains 31 gallons. Therefore, to determine the number of gallons to report on your Beer Manufacturer Tax Return, you will need to multiply the number of barrels sold by 31.
Because the determination of tax liability is based upon a count of cases of bottles or cans, only bottles or cans of uniform size and content may be packaged in the same case or shipping container.
If beer is to be packaged in cases of sizes other than those shown above, the beer manufacturer shall notify us in advance and request to be advised of the proper fractional barrel equivalent for the proposed container.
Sales and Distribution Topics
If you sell, ship, distribute, import, or export beer, you need to know your sales and use and alcoholic beverage tax obligations. This section contains information that may be helpful to you.
Sales and use tax generally does not apply to the sale of labels when sold to persons who affix them to nonreturnable containers of property to be sold (beer) or to returnable containers when a new label is affixed to the container each time it is refilled.
Examples are sales of labels to be affixed to fruit boxes, cans, bottles, and packing cases to growers, packers, bottlers, and others who place the contents in the containers.
Sales and use tax does not apply to the sale of the packaging materials when sold to persons who place the contents (beer) in the containers and sell the contents together with the containers.
Examples of packaging materials are bottles, cans, barrels, wrapping materials twines, bags, cardboard or plastic carriers, cartons, and pallets.
Sales and use tax applies to all other sales of containers, including beer kegs, purchased for use by the brewery or as returnable containers not for the purpose of resale.
Breweries are currently prohibited from shipping beer directly to California customers.
Only licensed wholesalers may distribute beer, and only licensed retailers can sell it to consumers. Please visit ABC's website for additional requirements.
Tax may apply to beer that is provided for tasting depending on whether a charge is made and where it is consumed.
If you charge a fee for beer tasting, you are considered the retailer of beer, and sales tax applies to the beer tasting charges.
If you also sell food during beer tastings, such as bread, crackers, cheeses, and other snacks, sales tax also applies to these sales. You may collect sales tax reimbursement from your customers on your beer and food sales as a separately stated charge, or you can include the tax in your beer or food charges; however, you must post a sign notifying your customers that the fee charged for beer tasting or food includes sales tax reimbursement. For more detailed information on sales tax reimbursement, please see Regulation 1700, Reimbursement for Sales Tax.
If you do not charge a fee for beer tasting or food served to your customers, you are considered the consumer of the products used. You owe use tax on the cost of the taxable items that you purchased for resale and used to produce the beer that you let customers taste without charge. For example, if you are a brewer, you would owe use tax on items purchased for resale such as bottles, labels, and certain chemicals incorporated into the beer. If you purchased beer for resale, you owe use tax measured by the cost of the beer that you give away or self-consume. Use tax does not apply to the purchase price of the grains, hops, or any other food items served, because food products are generally exempt from tax. For more information regarding components of beer produced for human consumption, please see the Ingredients tab.
Alcoholic Beverage Tax
Beer manufactured by a brewery for consumption in a brewery tavern, which is placed in a storage tank designed for this purpose, is subject to alcoholic beverage tax at the time it is placed in the storage tank. A “tavern” means a federally approved portion of the brewery premises where beer is sold to consumers.
Beer consumed by brewery employees, visitors, and others is not subject to the alcoholic beverage tax if consumed without charge, within the brewery's bonded premises, and not in a brewery tavern.
If you contract to provide and serve food or beverages at your brewery for a customer's event, such as a wedding, birthday party, or retirement party, in general, your charge for use of the brewery (facility) is subject to tax.
In general, when you contract to provide and serve food or beverages for an event at the brewery and the primary purpose of the brewery is to serve the food or beverages at the event, your charge for use of the brewery is subject to tax, even if separately stated. You are considered to be functioning as a restaurant, and the charge for the use of the brewery is part of the sale of food or beverages.
A brewery has a courtyard area designed for wedding receptions and contracts to furnish and serve food and beverages for a customer's wedding reception (event) under a lump sum charge. The brewery’s courtyard has tables and chairs for the wedding reception and the brewery provides all tableware, linens, and glasses, among others, in addition to the food and beverages. In this case, the brewery is functioning as a restaurant and the brewery's facility charge for use of the courtyard is subject to tax, even if the charge is separately stated.
However, if you contract to provide and serve food or beverages at the brewery, but also rent a separate area of the brewery to your customer for a use other than serving food or beverages, the charge for the use of the separate area unrelated to the serving of food or beverages is not subject to tax if the charge is separately stated on the invoice. A nontaxable facility charge could include a charge for a location for the couple to prepare for the wedding or a charge for a room for the couple to spend their wedding night.
Same scenario as the above example (for example, brewery contracts to provide and serve food or beverages for a customer's wedding reception), except in this case the brewery also rents the wedding party a separate area to hold the wedding ceremony. This area is separate from the courtyard and no food or beverages will be served in the area where the wedding ceremony occurs. The brewery separately states the charge for the use of this area that is unrelated to the serving of the food or beverages. Because the primary purpose of the area for the wedding ceremony is not to serve food or beverages, the separately stated charge is not subject to tax. Under these circumstances, only the charge for the facilities where food or beverages are served is subject to tax.
Your charge for the use of the brewery for an event where the primary purpose of the brewery at the event is to serve food or beverages is subject to tax even if you only provide either the food or the beverages at the event.
A brewery has a courtyard area designed for wedding receptions and contracts to serve its beer at the wedding reception. However, the customer contracts directly with a caterer, unrelated to the brewery, to provide and serve the food at the reception. The brewery's facility charge for the use of its courtyard area is subject to tax because the brewery is providing and serving the beer at the event, even though the food is provided and served by an outside caterer. The facility charges are subject to tax even if the charges are separately stated.
It makes no difference that the facilities are not primarily used for serving food or beverages in the normal course of business, such as a barn, cellar, or garden. When you contract to furnish and serve food or beverages for an event and provide facilities whose primary purpose at the event is to serve food or beverages, the charge for those facilities is subject to tax, even if separately stated.
A brewery operates a catering service and has a cellar that can be used for private parties. The brewery contracts to furnish and serve food or beverages using its catering service for a retirement party in the cellar. In such cases, even though the cellar is generally used for making and storing beer, since the primary purpose of the event is to serve food and beverages, the facility charge for the cellar is subject to tax.
However, in some instances, you may rent or lease the brewery for an event without furnishing and serving food or beverages. Instead, the customer provides the food and beverages, including the beer, for the event. For example, the customer hires a caterer unrelated to you to furnish and serve meals at the event. Under these circumstances, you are not considered to be acting as a restaurant because you are not responsible for furnishing and serving the food or beverages at the event. You are merely leasing the premises and the separately stated charge for the use of the brewery is not subject to tax.
For more information, please see publication 22, Dining and Beverage Industry, under the section Facility fees charged by retailers other than restaurants or hotels.
Samples and donations of beer shall be reported as sales and are subject to California's alcoholic beverage tax.
Each transfer of samples, between licensees authorized to possess alcoholic beverages on which the California alcoholic beverages taxes have not been paid, should be on an ex-tax basis, and recorded on an invoice marked “Samples.”
For sales and use tax purposes, if you do not charge a fee for your samples, you are considered the consumer of the products used. You owe use tax on the cost of the taxable items that you purchased for resale and used to produce the beer that you let customers taste without charge. For example, if you are a brewer, you owe use tax on items purchased for resale, such as bottles, labels, and certain chemicals incorporated into the beer. If you purchased beer for resale, you owe use tax measured by the cost of the beer that you give away or self-consume. Use tax does not apply to the purchase price of the grains, hops, or any other food items served, because food products are generally exempt from tax. For more information regarding components of beer produced for human consumption, please see the Ingredients tab.
All beer imported into California by a beer manufacturer or importer is presumed to be sold, and the alcoholic beverage tax is due when it is received by the licensee. You can rebut this presumption if you can show that the beer:
- Is still in the possession of the beer manufacturer in internal revenue bond within this state.
- Has been exported from California by you (the licensee) or has been sold by you for export and was actually exported from California.
- Is otherwise exempt.
As a beer importer, you must keep purchase invoices and a record of all shipments of beer received from a point outside California on CDTFA-269-BM, Beer Imported into California. A beer manufacturer holding both a beer manufacturer's license and a beer and wine importer's license must also include the total imports of beer on their Beer Manufacturer Tax Return.
Adults who bring alcoholic beverages into California for personal or household use do not need an alcoholic beverage license; however, some restrictions do apply. For specific information on importing alcoholic beverages for personal use and the allowable amounts, please visit ABC's website and review their Importing Alcoholic Beverages for Personal or Household Use webpage.
If you purchase alcoholic beverages from outside California for personal use, you are required to report and pay use tax directly to us. For information regarding California use tax, please visit our California Use Tax Information webpage.
Beer sold for export and actually exported outside California is exempt from the sales and use tax and alcoholic beverage tax.
To qualify as exempt from the alcoholic beverage tax, one or more of the following conditions must be met:
- The beverages are delivered to an armed force of the United States, at a depot of the armed force in California, for transport out of California, and the taxpayer's record of the sale is supported by a copy of the official purchase order and the documented evidence of export.
- The beverages are shipped to a point in a foreign country, and the federal tax on alcoholic beverages is not imposed or is refunded.
- The beverages are shipped to a point outside California by a carrier who is independent of the buyer and the seller, and the claim for tax exemption is supported by a copy of the shipping documents receipted by the carrier. "Carrier" means a person or firm regularly engaged in the business of transporting for compensation property owned by other persons.
- The beverages are shipped to or delivered to a point outside California by any means, and the claim for tax exemption is supported by documentation signed by the purchaser. Documentation must include the certificate of the appropriate liquor control or tax authority of the state in which the beverages have been delivered, showing that receipt of the delivery of the beverages has been reported to such authority by the purchaser.
Sales of beer by licensed retailers to customers outside of California are generally considered exempt sales in interstate and foreign commerce and are not subject to sales tax. You must keep documentation, such as a bill of lading, to show that the beer was shipped out of California directly to your customer.
Sales Which Are Not Exports
Alcoholic beverages on which federal excise taxes have been paid, and which are sold to persons operating commercial fishing boats or private carrier freight vessels, for use as ships' stores outside California, upon the high seas, are not exports and are subject to the alcoholic beverage tax.
Beer Transactions Exempt from the Alcoholic Beverage Tax
- Beer consumed by employees of a manufacturer upon the premises of the manufacturer.
- Beer sold or delivered in internal revenue bond to another beer manufacturer in California.
- Beer in continuous transit through California in the possession or custody of common carriers.
- Sales of beer to certain commercial carriers of persons when beverages will be used on their facilities outside California.
- Beer sold for export and actually exported.
You are required by law to keep business records to properly report and pay the applicable taxes. This section will explain what type of records you need to keep, as well as how long you must keep them for sales, use, and alcoholic beverage tax purposes.
Accurate record keeping will help you keep track of your sales and purchases and assist you when preparing your required tax returns and reports. Records must be kept for at least four years, unless otherwise directed by us. If you do not maintain records, it may be considered evidence of negligence or intent to evade the tax and may result in penalties.
Examples of records you must keep include:
- Sales invoices
- Cash register tapes
- Sales journals
- Resale certificates
- Shipping documents
- Purchase invoices
- Bank records
- Purchase orders
- Purchase journals
- Tax returns
Every beer manufacturer, importer, and wholesaler must keep records of all beer produced, received by bottling, canning, or cooperage departments, packaged, purchased, or sold.
You must maintain records for all sales and purchases of beer.
If you are a beer manufacturer, wholesaler, or importer, your records must show:
|Importers of Beer||
|Out-of-State Beer Vendors||
For more information on books and records, please see publication 116, Sales and Use Tax Records.
If you are a licensed beer manufacturer, you need to take a monthly physical inventory of all bulk and bottled beer in the brewery bottling house.
You should keep all records used in preparing inventories for certification at your premises to be readily accessible for examination by our team members.
Losses and Allowances
If you are a licensed business and incur any of the following described losses, we will refund you an amount equal to the state alcoholic beverage tax included in the sales price of the beverages.
A refund may be obtained from us for the alcoholic beverage tax paid after losses resulting from disaster, vandalism, malicious mischief, or insurrection.
To obtain a refund from us for the alcoholic beverage tax, all the following conditions must be met:
- The beverages are lost, rendered unmarketable, or condemned by a duly authorized official by reason of fire, flood, casualty, or other disaster, or by reason of breakage, destruction, or other damage resulting from vandalism, malicious mischief, or insurrection.
- The beverages were held and intended for sale at the time of the disaster or other damage.
- The disaster or damage occurred in California.
- The licensee has not, and will not, be compensated by insurance or otherwise, for the loss in the amount of the tax included in the purchase price paid for the beverages.
- The amount to be refunded with respect to a single disaster or other loss is $250 or more.
- A claim for refund is filed with us within six months after the date on which the beverages were lost, rendered unmarketable, or condemned by a duly authorized official.
We will not pay interest on the amount of alcoholic beverage taxes refunded. Losses resulting from theft do not qualify for a refund of the alcoholic beverage tax (see Regulation 2553, Losses Resulting from Disaster, Vandalism, Malicious Mischief, or Insurrection).
Losses resulting from theft do not qualify for a refund of any sales tax because the products were not sold at retail, and therefore, no sales tax was imposed.
Tax does not apply to spoiled beer that has not yet been sold in California, or a credit is allowed on tax-paid beer that was sold in California, and subsequently returned as spoiled, when the spoiled beer is destroyed under our supervision. You must receive written approval from us prior to destroying the beer to claim tax is not owed or a credit.
Unsupervised Destruction—Beer Importers
Beer importers can claim a credit for unsupervised destruction of beer when the quantity being destroyed as spoilage is 2,500 gallons or fewer. However, you must receive written approval from us prior to destroying the beer to claim the exemption or credit (Regulation 2552).
If you do not qualify for unsupervised destruction as noted above, you may still be eligible to claim tax is not owed or a credit on tax-paid beer that is destroyed with supervision (Revenue and Taxation Code section 32176). We will contact you regarding the appropriate type of supervision required, including witnessing the destruction virtually through the use of video conferencing, to claim your exemption or credit after you complete and submit CDTFA-775.
Submitting a Beer Destruction Approval Request
To submit a destruction request, a beer manufacturer or importer must submit CDTFA-775, Application for Approval and Declaration of Destruction for Spoiled Beer or Wine. The steps below outline the process for a destruction request:
- Complete CDTFA-775 Sections I and II and email it to CDTFA775@cdtfa.ca.gov. On the subject line of the email, include the following: Destruction Approval Request—CDTFA Account (input account number).
- We will review your request and determine whether your beer qualifies for an unsupervised destruction or if supervision by a CDTFA representative is required. We will contact you if additional information is needed prior to approval.
- If your request is:
- Approved—We will complete Sections III and IV (if applicable). The approval process generally takes up to three business days; however, if an appointment with a CDTFA representative is needed the process can take up to 12 business days. Once approved, the form will be available on your online services profile at the account level under the unread messages.
- Not approved—We will contact you and the CDTFA-775 will not be returned to you.
Please note: All claims that tax is not owed or credits claimed are subject to verification and may be disallowed for improper destruction and/or insufficient documentation.
For more information, please visit the Industry Topics tab of our Tax Guide for Alcoholic Beverage.
Need to know more? Follow the links below for more information about the topics covered in this guide, as well as other information you might find helpful:
- Tax Guide for Agricultural Industry
- Tax Guide for Manufacturing and Research & Development Equipment Exemption
- Tax Guide for Alcoholic Beverage
Laws and Regulations
- Alcoholic Beverage Tax Law
- Alcoholic Beverage Tax Regulations
- Business and Professions Code sections 23000-23047 Alcoholic Beverage Control Act
- Revenue and Taxation Code section 6356.5, Farm Equipment and Machinery
- Revenue and Taxation Code section 6357.1, Diesel fuel; farming business
- Revenue and Taxation Code section 6359, Food Products
- Revenue and Taxation Code section 6377.1, Manufacturing and Research & Development Equipment
- Regulation 1525.4, Manufacturing and Research & Development Equipment
- Regulation 1533.1, Farm Equipment and Machinery
- Regulation 1533.2, Diesel Fuel Used in Farming Activities or Food Processing
- Regulation 1589, Containers and Labels
- Regulation 1602, Food Products
- Regulation 1603, Taxable Sales of Food Products
- Regulation 2552, Spoiled Beer and Wine
- Regulation 2553, Losses Resulting From Disaster, Vandalism, Malicious Mischief, or Insurrection
NAICS—North American Industry Classification System
The Census Bureau is the official US Government Authority that manages the NAICS Coding System. Go to the 2012 NAICS search tool to determine your NAICS code.
Returns, Reports, and Forms
- CDTFA-217, Common Carrier's Report of Delivery
- CDTFA-269-BW, Beer and Wine Imported into California Report
- Beer and Wine Importer Tax Return
- CDTFA-1056, Vendor's Report of Beer Shipments into California
- CDTFA-1096, Customs Broker's Report of Transactions
Partial Exemption Certificates
- CDTFA-230-M, Partial Exemption Certificate for Manufacturing, Research and Development Equipment
- CDTFA-230-G, Partial Exemption Certificate for Qualified Sales and Purchases of Diesel and Farm Equipment and Machinery
- CDTFA-608, Certificate of Farming Use (to support your diesel fuel vendor's claim for a credit, payment, or refund under section 60502 of the Revenue and Taxation Code)
- CDTFA-230-N, Exemption Certificate for Qualified Sales and Purchases of Liquefied Petroleum Gas
- Publication 22, Dining and Beverage Industry
- Publication 66, Agricultural Industry
- Publication 92, Alcoholic Beverage Tax
- Publication 541, Manufacturing and Research & Development Exemption
Other Helpful Resources
- CDTFA Online Services—Learn about the online services the CDTFA offers, including online registration for all permits, licenses, and accounts we administer.
- Verify a Permit, License, or Account—You can use this to verify a seller's permit, Cigarette and Tobacco product retailer license, eWaste account, or Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee Account.
- Sign Up for CDTFA Updates—Subscribe to our email lists and receive the latest news, newsletters, tax and fee updates, public meeting agendas, and other announcements.
- Videos and How-To Guides—These resources will help you avoid common mistakes, file your tax returns online, and more.
- City and County Tax Rates—A listing of current and historical tax rates.
- Find Your Tax Rate—You can look up the current sales and use tax rate for a specific address.
- Tax and Fee Rates—You can look up current and past alcoholic beverage tax rates, as well as rates for other special taxes and fees administered by the CDTFA.
- Special Notices—CDTFA special notices are issued whenever there is a change in laws, tax rates, or CDTFA procedures.
- Get It in Writing!—Our tax and fee laws can be complex, and you are encouraged to put your tax questions in writing.
- Contact Us—A listing of CDTFA contacts for your questions and concerns.
- CDTFA Offices—A comprehensive listing of all CDTFA offices and contact information.
- Taxpayers' Rights Advocate (TRA)—The TRA Office helps taxpayers when they are unable to resolve a matter through normal channels (for example by speaking to a supervisor), when they want information regarding procedures relating to a particular set of circumstances, or when there are apparent rights violations.
- Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC)—Provides helpful information for businesses requiring ABC licenses.
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)—Provides information and documents for beer producers, importers, exporters, and wholesalers regarding alcohol permitting, labeling, and marketing requirements.