The Tax Man Collects New Downtown Nashville Tax of 25 Cents on Every $100

By - July 17, 2015 | Alcoholic Beverage Law, Wigs Manager | Email Will Cheek

We have found that many downtown Nashville businesses have been surprised by a relatively new tax levied for marketing Music City Center, Nashville’s $623 million dollar convention center.  The tax requires businesses in downtown Nashville to pay a fee of .25% on most sales.

The tax is collected by the Department of Revenue along with sales taxes.

The tax is levied on all sales, except the following:

  1. Professional services;
  2. Lodging provided to transients;
  3. Tickets to sporting events or other live ticketed events;
  4. Alcoholic beverages which are subject to the liquor by the drink tax in addition to sales tax;
  5. Newspapers and other publications; and
  6. Overnight and long-term parking.

In an odd quirk, beer is taxed, but not wine and spirits.  The new tax recognizes that liquor and hotel taxes are already high and does not increase their taxes.

Luke Bryan captures the mood in an early single:

My stereo cranked up
I can’t find my truck
How’d I get home from the club
Ain’t got a clue what went down
So I started calling around

The area subject to the new tax is the Downtown CBID and includes all properties within that area of the city bounded and generally described as follows:

Bounded on the east from Charlotte Avenue to Woodland Street, 1st Avenue North; from Woodland Street to Peabody Street, the Cumberland River. The southerly boundary is from the Cumberland River to Rutledge Street, the center line of Peabody; from Rutledge Street to Lafayette Street, the south property line of all parcels facing on the south side of Peabody Street; from the center line of Lafayette to the center point of the intersection of Peabody, Lafayette and 7th Avenue South; between 7th Avenue South and 8th Avenue South, the center line of Lea Avenue; from Lea Avenue at 8th Avenue South, southwardly along center line of 8th Avenue South to the northern edge of the right-of-way of the CSX Railroad; northward to the western edge of parcel #093-09-0-320. The westerly boundary is between Charlotte and Union, the center line of 6th Avenue North; between Union and Broadway, the center line of James Robertson Parkway and 9th Avenue North; from Broadway to the first parcel south of Demonbreun along the western property line of parcels #093-09-0-326, #093-09-0-327 and #093-09-0-331. The northerly boundary begins from Broadway at the western property line of parcel #093-09-0-326, the center line of Broadway to 10th Avenue North; from 10th Avenue North to 9th Avenue North, the northern property line of all parcels facing on the north side of Broadway; from the intersection of Union and James Robertson Parkway, proceeding east to 6th Avenue North; from 6th Avenue North to 3rd Avenue North, the northern boundary is Charlotte Avenue; from 3rd Avenue North to the Cumberland River, the northern boundary is James Robertson Parkway.

How Restaurants and Bars Can Avoid a Tennessee ABC Citation for Infusing

By - July 14, 2015 | Alcoholic Beverage Law, Wigs Manager | Email Will Cheek

Anyone following liquor-by-the-drink laws in Tennessee is familiar with the controversy over infusions.  We blogged about the infusion law here.

One key provision of the infusion law was that pre-mixed products were not treated as infusions.  The law specifies that infusions are “not intended for immediate consumption.”

In other words, if a restaurant or bar makes a concoction that has to steep for a while to be ready to serve, it constitutes an infusion and is subject to the infusion law.  A pre-mixed cocktail like bloody marys or sangria that is ready to consume once it is prepared is not an infusion.

Problem is, out in the field, ABC agents have no idea what is inside an unmarked jug of hooch.  Although the container could contain a pre-mixed cocktail, the agent cannot tell if the elixir is an illegal infusion or a lawful pre-mix.

We recommend that folks attach a simple label to pre-mixed cocktails to help Tennessee ABC agents and to avoid unnecessary citations.  Although the law does not require labeling pre-mixed cocktails, a very simple label with the name of the cocktail is strongly advised.  Best practices suggest that the label should also contain the expiration date of the pre-mix.

This can be as simple as masking tape and a sharpie.

Steve Miller Band’s comic tune “The Joker” comes to mind for absolutely no reason.

You’re the cutest thing
That I ever did see
I really love your peaches
Want to shake your tree
Lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey, lovey-dovey all the time
Ooo-eee baby, I’ll sure show you a good time

Why is My Tennessee Liquor Store Closed on the 4th of July and Other Holidays?

By - July 05, 2015 | Alcoholic Beverage Law, Wigs Manager | Email Will Cheek

Tennessee liquor laws often make no sense to consumers.  Why can’t I buy wine in a grocery store?  Why can’t I buy wine and spirits on Sundays at a liquor store, but I can buy a glass of wine or mixed drink at a restaurant or bar?

The short answer is politics.

For decades, Tennessee law limited ownership of retail liquor stores to single store mom and pop owners.  Albeit imperfect, the one store retail liquor law established a legal foundation for small business owners to be the only source for purchasing wine and spirits in Tennessee.

In a time-honored Tennessee legislative tradition, Tennessee liquor store owners paid enough money to hire a powerful lobbyists to protect their interests.

For a mom and pop store, being able to close on holidays is a major perk.  By law, liquor stores cannot open on the following holidays:

New Years
Fourth of July
Labor Day
Thanksgiving
Christmas

With state law prohibiting competitors from opening, mom and pops can comfortably take the day off.

For a liquor store owner, it is a nice fringe benefit.  For consumers, it makes absolutely no sense.

Kim Wilde’s underground 1980’s single “Kid’s in America” comes to mind:

Outside Suburbia’s sprawling everywhere

I don’t want to go baby

New York to East California

There’s a new wave coming I warn you

We’re the kids in America

Drinking Laws in Memphis: Tell Me More

By - July 01, 2015 | Alcoholic Beverage Law, Wigs Manager | Email Will Cheek

According to our friends at Google, one of the most popular questions in Tennessee is about drinking laws in Memphis.

Memphis is near the top of our list for unusual liquor licensing laws.

In general, Tennessee liquor laws require that a restaurant, hotel or bar has to have a liquor license from the state and a beer permit from the city.  The state licensees wine and spirits and the city licenses beer.

In Memphis, the beer board is known as the Memphis Alcohol Commission.  Anyone that has obtained a beer permit in Memphis knows about sign posting, petitions and other quirks of licensing in Memphis.  As with many Tennessee cities and counties, the beer permitting process in Memphis is an exercise in red tape.

Don’t get us wrong. Memphis staff members Yolanda Fullilove, Aubrey Howard and Roane Waring are some of our favorite Tennessee licensing officials.

Memphis features the only area in Tennessee where open container laws do not apply.  Within the Beale Street historic district, patrons can carry an open container on public streets and between bars.  No special license is needed – the bar or restaurant just needs to be located in the historic district.

The special Beale Street law also authorizes the sale of alcohol after the typical 3 am last call.  State law allows Memphis to set last call on Beale Street, but currently, Beale Street closes at 3 am.

Blues pioneer WC Handy inked an appropriate tune:

I’ve seen the lights of gay Broadway,
Old Market Street down by the Frisco Bay,
I’ve strolled the Prado, I’ve gambled on the Bourse;
The seven wonders of the world I’ve seen,
And many are the places I have been,
Take my advice, folks, and see Beale Street first!