Alcoholic Beverage Tax Program - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the alcoholic beverage tax?

The alcoholic beverage tax is a per-gallon excise tax collected on the sale, distribution, or importation of alcoholic beverages in California. Revenues from the tax are deposited into the Alcohol Beverage Control Fund and are withdrawn for use by the State‘s General Fund or used to pay refunds under this program.

Who is required to register?

In general, you must register with our agency, the Board of Equalization, if you are required to obtain one of the following licenses issued by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC):

  • Manufacturer
  • Winegrower (includes direct wine shippers)
  • Wine blender
  • Craft distiller
  • Distilled spirits manufacturer's agent
  • Rectifier
  • Wholesaler
  • Importer
  • Customs Broker
  • On-sale general brew pub

Common carriers, other than railroads and steamship companies, must also register with the BOE in order to transport alcoholic beverages into this state.

Online Registration

You may register for a permit, license, or account using online registration. Online registration is the convenient way to register and is available 24 hours a day.

What is the tax rate?

Beverage Rate Per Gallon

Distilled Spirits (100 proof or less) $ 3.30
Distilled Spirits (over 100 proof) $ 6.60
Beer $ 0.20
Wine $ 0.20
Sparkling hard cider $ 0.20
Champagne and sparkling wine $ 0.30

What are the tax filing requirements?

All registered taxpayers, other than common carriers, must file a tax return on or before the 15th of the month following the period covered by the return. Common carriers must file a tax return on or before the first day of the second month following the monthly period. You must file a return even if you do not owe tax for the reporting period.

You should keep a copy of your return on the licensed premises for verification by our auditors.

  • Penalty for sending a late tax return form:
    The penalty for filing a late return (including returns for which no tax was due) is $50 or 10 percent of the amount of tax due, whichever is more. Late filers must include payment for the penalty and interest with their tax return.
  • Penalty for sending a late payment:
    The penalty for late payment tax is 10% (0.10) of the tax amount due. If you make a late payment, you must include the tax owed, the penalty, and interest.

How is the tax applied?

Beer and wine. The excise tax on beer and wine is generally paid by manufacturers, wine growers, and importers. Sellers of beer and wine must pay the excise tax if the tax was not paid by the manufacturers, winegrowers, or importers.

Distilled spirits. In general, the excise tax on distilled spirits is paid by distilled spirits wholesalers based on sales to in-state retailers. Sellers of distilled spirits must pay the excise tax if the tax was not paid by the wholesaler.

Tax credits

Tax credits are allowed for

  • Beer or wine exported outside California, and
  • BOE-authorized destruction of spoiled beer or wine.

Where should records be maintained?

You must maintain your records at your licensed premises unless we have given you permission to keep them at another location.