TABC Provisions to Keep Top of Mind Amid COVID-19 Restaurant Shutdowns

Ashley Storm Ruleman
,

Like most Texans, we look forward to the day when bars and restaurants are given the green light to reopen their doors and get back to serving the communities that love them. 

To make sure restaurant entrepreneurs are prepared for that day, they must continue to maintain their Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) permits in the interim. Though Governor Greg Abbott has loosened some restrictions, most TABC compliance requirements remain the same, including completing renewals timely, refusing service to minors and intoxicated persons, and staying current with the Comptroller. 

Guidance on TABC Permit Renewals

The TABC did not extend the deadlines for renewals or offer any additional grace periods. Following their usual practice, the TABC will allow renewals to be submitted (though not effective) as early as 30 days prior to the permit expiration date. We like to submit renewals approximately 15 to 30 days in advance of the permit expiration date to ensure no issues with renewal. 

If you have missed your renewal date, you cannot engage in the activities authorized under the permit. You can, however, still renew a permit for up to 30 days after the expiration date but will incur a late fee on top of the renewal fees due. 

Want help with your renewal? Feel free to contact our TABC Coordinator, Claire Storm, and she will be happy to walk you through the process.

Want to do it yourself, but would just like some guidance? A free overview of the renewal process is available on Storm Liquor License.

Duty to Refuse Sales to Minors and Intoxicated Persons

Restaurants must remember during this time that the prohibitions against selling alcoholic beverages to minors and intoxication still apply, as does the associated liability. Failure to follow these prohibitions can result in fines or permit suspension by the TABC and significant civil liability. 

Need a refresher on promoting the safe service of alcohol? Visit our blog: How to Ensure the Safe Service of Alcohol

We recommend that restaurant owners regularly meet with staff to reinforce the principles taught in TABC-approved seller-server training classes, even while the restrictions on restaurants are ongoing. 

Mixed Beverage Gross Receipts and Sales Tax

Like the renewals, deadlines for taxes have not been extended as of March 26, 2020. If you did not meet the March 20 deadline to file your mixed beverage gross receipts and sales tax with the Texas State Comptroller, we recommend you contact the Comptroller Enforcement Hotline as soon as possible at (800) 252-8880. They have resources available and are offering options to help taxpayers get in compliance and avoid interest and penalties. 

Also, continue to look for updates regarding changes to the Comptroller’s requirements and processes as these are continuing to be evaluated as the situation with respect to COVID-19 evolves.

Be Proactive as You Wait Out COVID-19

Navigating this uncertain time is challenging enough without worrying about the potential loss of your TABC permit or liquor license. As a Texas restaurant and bar owner, you need to ensure you are keeping up with important TABC provisions during this time of event cancellations and government-mandated shutdowns. 

That way, you are ready to hit the ground running when COVID-19 passes and the industry returns to business as usual. After all, you don’t want to be the only restaurant left closed at that time because you forgot to keep up with your permit renewal or pay your taxes.

Photo Credit:  Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

About the Author. Ashley Storm Ruleman is an experienced legal counselor serving two diverse but often overlapping industries: the real estate development/construction industry and the alcoholic beverage industry. Before entering private practice, Ashley served as in-house counsel to a family of companies involved in real estate development, construction and management and was Assistant General Counsel to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). She now advises bars, restaurants, golf courses, and other clients regarding appropriate business structures, contracts, and real estate transactions that comply with the rules and policies created by the TABC and other applicable Texas laws. For more information, contact her at Ashley@MartinPowers.com.

About Martin Powers & Counsel, PLLC. Dallas-based Martin Powers & Counsel, PLLC is a boutique business law firm dedicated to providing personalized and strategic legal services for businesses of every size. The firm is home to experienced attorneys with expertise in business disputes, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) compliance, labor and employment law, real estate transactions, landlord/tenant disputes, contract negotiations, general counsel services, and other areas at the intersection of business and law.