A little shift in power gives TTB another life
Questions over the fate of the TTB (the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau) have apparently been answered with this week’s release of the 2013 federal budget proposal. Word was out earlier this fall that the Obama Administration was considering eliminating the TTB in the 2013 federal budget as a way to save funds, rolling that agency’s duties into the FDA and the IRS (acronyms enough, you said?).
But it appears the TTB is alive and well, at least according to Wednesday’s The Gray Report, the newsworthy blog by W. Blake Gray, who happens to be in Portugal and enjoying every minute of it.
The idea of eliminating the TTb puzzled many onlookers, although at least one website urged the President to axe the TTB to save some $80 million. That’s not going to have much affect on a $15.4 trillion national debt but just like love, every little bit counts, right?
We’ll wait to see how the Republicans might respond, since they’ve been pushing for some budget savings while being loathe to admit anything the Dems do might be a good idea.
Ask any winemaker and he or she can talk at length on the bonding, licensing, and other regulations they have to follow in order get their product on your table (or on the store shelf, given the three-tier system). Trying to figure out the machinations of another agency, or finding that the new agency might even be bit anti-alcohol, as some claim the IRS is, would only lead to more confusion, more frustration and more delays (read that: cost).
The only change in the regs, says Gray, allows the IRS to investigate and prosecute tax code violations. And allow the TTB to continue its usual sterling job of approving wine labels in its bright-eyed and expeditious manner.
Earlier, the Lehrman Beverage Law site quoted Wine & Spirits Daily as saying “One of the biggest complaints last year was the TTB’s slow response time when it came to approving labels – a result of less funding by Obama and inevitable lay-offs. As a remedy, the TTB proposed shifting its duties more towards enforcement rather than label pre-approvals, but the industry fought it.”
Wine & Spirits goes on to say: “[I]t doesn’t seem likely that disbanding the TTB would save much money because theoretically it would require the same amount of people to complete the same functions now performed by the TTB, which ‘is pretty bare bones as it is.'”
Apparently the Obama bunch felt the same way since the new budget proposal doesn’t mention slashing the TTB. Now, about that tax code…