REVISED GUIDELINES FOR FILING AND
RETENTION OF ALCOHOL AND
TOBACCO EXCISE TAX RETURNS
Proprietors of Distilled Spirits Plants and Bonded
Wineries, Brewers, Manufacturers of Tobacco
Products, Manufacturers of Cigarette Papers and
Tubes, and Others Concerned.
Purpose. This circular notifies industry members
of an ATF procedure which will be published in the next
issue of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bulletin.
The procedure will read substantially as follows.
Section 1. PURPOSE
This ATF Procedure establishes revised guidelines
for the filing and retention of alcohol and tobacco
excise tax returns. The new guidelines reduce the
number of copies required to be filed, superseding the
instructions on the alcohol and tobacco tax return
forms currently in circulation. Specific instructions
incorporated in regulations have been deleted by
Treasury Decision ATF-111, published in the Federal
Register of September 1, 1982 (47 FR 38521). Regula-
tions now provide for filing in accordance with the
instructions on applicable forms. The instructions on
ATF tax return forms will be revised to conform to
this procedure when the forms are next reprinted.
These revised procedures are effective September 1,
Sec. 2. BACKGROUND
Sections 5061 and 5703, Title 26 of the United
States Code, provide that alcohol and tobacco taxes
shall be collected by return. ATF regulations in
27 CFR, and the forms prescribed therein, implement
the statute with respect to the taxes on distilled
spirits, wine, beer, tobacco products and cigarette
papers and tubes.
Alcohol and tobacco taxes are administered by
ATF. However, the tax returns are filed with the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which performs a
cashier function and transmits evidence of payment to
ATF. Under existing procedures, multiple copies of
returns have been required to be filed with IRS and
ATF to provide record copies for both agencies and a
receipted copy to the taxpayer (with retention of such
copy specifically required for certain taxes). These
requirements were deleted by T.D. ATF-111.
IRS has instructed its service centers to begin
forwarding all copies of alcohol and tobacco tax
returns to ATF, with full receipt data to be entered
on the original return only. ATF will be modifying
the instructions on its forms to reduce the number of
copies filed and to delete references to retention of
a receipted copy.
This ATF procedure provides interim guidance to
enable taxpayers to begin realizing immediately the
administrative cost savings resulting from stream-
lined filing requirements.
Sec. 3. CHANGES IN PROCEDURE
Taxpayers presently file an original and two copies
of each tax return with their IRS District Director.
Under the interim guidelines, taxpayers may file an
The tax return, with payment, will
still be filed with the appropriate IRS office. After
processing by IRS, the original returns will be
forwarded to ATF.
Taxpayers also file a copy of each return with the
ATF Regional Regulatory Administrator at the same time
as the original is filed with IRS. This requirement
was terminated by T.D. ATF-111.
The net result is that tax returns now prepared
in quintuplicate and filed in quadruplicate may be
prepared in duplicate with only an original required
to be filed. This change brings the procedures for
filing alcohol and tobacco tax returns into conformity
with the requirements applicable to most other Federal
Retention of a copy of all returns is prescribed
by ATF regulations applicable to each type of tax
(19.741(a)(4); 240.924; 245.232; 270.185 and 285.31).
These general requirements are unchanged under the
interim guidelines, as a copy of the return is required
for use in tax compliance examinations. However, the
customary procedure (which had been specifically
required by regulation for some returns) has been for
the taxpayer to retain the IRS receipted copy that the
district director or service center returned to him as
the "official" record copy. Since IRS service centers
will no longer be providing such copies, the regulatory
requirements for retaining receipted copies have been
eliminated by T.D. ATF-111. Therefore, the copy which
the proprietor retains at the time of filing, pre-
viously treated as a "suspense" copy pending return of
the IRS receipted copy, will be the required record
copy. Taxpayers may wish to modify their internal pro-
cedures to assure that this copy is a true reproduction
of the original return and that proofs of timely
mailing, canceled checks or other evidence of timely
payment are retained and attached to or referenced on
this copy. Taxpayers who wish to continue to maintain
a receipted copy have the option of delivering each
return to the IRS district director and having a copy
Sec. 4. EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS
The guidelines contained in this ATF procedure
supersede the requirements presently printed as
instructions to ATF tax return forms.
Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE
All alcohol and tobacco excise taxpayers may begin
filing their tax returns in accordance with the guide-
lines set forth in this procedure as of September 1,
Sec. 6. INQUIRIES
Inquiries concerning this circular should refer
to its number and be addressed to the office of the
appropriate Regional Regulatory Administrator, Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.