Leading up to 2018, the CDTFA passed two key regulations clarifying their requirements for correctly paying your cannabis cultivation and excise taxes. Regulations 3700 and 3701 pertain to collecting tax on inventory you’ve had in stock before the full legalization of cannabis in California, and are important to understand before filing your first-quarter report on April 30, 2018.
Cannabis Tax Regulation 3700: Cannabis Excise and Cultivation Taxes
Passed in December, 2017, this regulation clarified the existing excise and cultivation tax policy everyone must follow starting January 1, 2018. Specifically, this regulation clearly defines terms such as “fresh cannabis plant,” “distributor,” “cultivator,” and cannabis leaves and flowers. It also lays out the cultivation tax rates, which we’ve covered in previous articles.
Perhaps most importantly, Regulation 3700 also lays out the process for collecting the cannabis excise tax. Distributors are responsible for collecting, reporting and remitting cannabis excise tax from the cultivators and retailers each quarter. Late payments incur the following penalties:
However, if the CDTFA finds that a failure to make a timely payment is due to reasonable cause, you may be relieved of penalty. To be relieved, you must prove that payment was late due to circumstances beyond the person’s control, and occurred in absence of willful neglect. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to consult with a tax or law expert to file a statement explaining the facts pertaining to your claim.
Cannabis Tax Regulation 3701: Collection and Remittance of the Cannabis Excise Tax
After passing Regulation 3700, California officials discovered a loophole to the cannabis excise tax– which regulation 3701 aims to close. Prior to the full legalization of cannabis in California, no person was required to obtain a distributor license until January 1, 2018. However, there were certainly individuals and companies operating as distributors before January 1 – distributors in the medical cannabis industry, for example. These companies would have existing cannabis inventory – so should this inventory be subject to the new cannabis excise tax?
Regulation 3701 says that if a retailer possesses or controls cannabis or a cannabis product at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2018, and makes a retail sale of that cannabis or cannabis product on or after January 1, 2018, then that retailer must charge a cannabis excise tax based on the average market price. This excise tax is due to the distributor by the fifteenth day of the calendar month following the close of the calendar month in which the tax was collected.
Here’s how this works in practice. A retailer purchases cannabis in 2017, and on January 3, 2018, purchases cannabis from a distributor for $100/oz. The wholesale cost is $100/oz. Therefore, the average market prices of an ounce is $160.00 ($100 x 1.6). The cannabis excise tax due on the sale of the cannabis purchased in 2017 is $24.00 ($160 x 15%) and the retailer must collect this excise tax from its customer.
Lastly, distributors need to know how to report the pre-2018 excise tax. When remitting the excise tax to the CDTFA, distributors should include the following information:
Include this information on your first quarter tax return, due April 30, 2018. Questions? Get in touch, we’re happy to help.