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Tax Tip: Alcohol 2.0 With a Compliance Chaser

Dec. 29, 2021, 9:45 AM

For anyone not paying attention over the past year, beverage alcohol has become the most dynamic and interesting sector to track—a classic example of technology enabling shifts in consumer preference during a historic era, enabling transformative business growth, with compliance trailing close behind. Here’s a snapshot.

Marketplaces and delivery apps (i.e. Drizly, Instacart, DoorDash) are now pervasive. Home delivery of alcohol is here to stay. Consumers expect more options, faster, paving the way for more third-party providers—cue acquisitions by Uber et al. Look for more explosive growth in 2022, and moves by alcohol agencies to either regulate these entities, or take a lighter touch, focusing solely on priorities like preventing underage delivery.

Cocktails-to-go laws passed overnight in many regions during COVID to help restaurants and bars stay afloat. Now it’s decision time for states—sunset or let ‘em ride? Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have made cocktails-to-go permanent; California and others are extending provisions; some, like New York, are sunsetting. States that recently expanded options for bars, breweries, distilleries, restaurants and wineries are unlikely to walk them back. 2022 will feature ramped-up compliance enforcement around age verification and delivery agents.

Stay tuned as innovation meets regulation.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

Author Information

Jeff Carroll is general manager for Avalara for Beverage Alcohol. Jeff regularly speaks about and advises customers on beverage alcohol compliance issues, particularly in the areas of direct shipping and sales tax.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Kelly Phillips Erb in Washington at