Jan 6, 2021

Fee Waiver Included in Governor’s Proposed Budget

Additional details about the proposal that will be released with the Governor’s Proposed Budget.

On January 5, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom previewed his Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs plan, the business and workforce recovery elements of his 2021-22 Proposed Budget that will help California through the COVID-19 Pandemic and advance an equitable, broad-based recovery. 

This plan includes $70.6 million for fee waivers to individuals and businesses most impacted by the pandemic – including barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, bars and restaurants. These waivers will assist those who have not been able to operate or are operating at reduced capacity during the pandemic. Of this amount, $45 million is proposed to provide fee waivers to approximately 59,000 entities (restaurants and bars) heavily impacted by health and safety restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Restaurants and bars will be eligible for fee waivers of licenses with expiration dates between February 1, 2021, and January 31, 2022. The proposed statutory changes authorize the waiver of license renewal fees for specified license types. The requirements and guidelines for submitting a fee waiver request and the process of certification for licensees will be published on the ABC’s website.

The following is a list of anticipated Frequently Asked Questions that will provide additional detail about the proposal that will be released with the Governor’s Proposed Budget:

What relief is being provided to ABC licensed businesses?

The Governor’s Proposed Budget includes fee waivers for ABC licensees heavily impacted by the public health and safety restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. If the proposal is approved by the Legislature, specified licensees whose licenses expire between February 1, 2021 and January 31, 2022 may qualify for a waiver of the associated license renewal fee.

Which license types are eligible for a renewal fee waiver?

The fee waivers will apply primarily to restaurants, bars, and other specified license types whose business operations have been most directly impacted during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The following specific license types will be eligible for a waiver pursuant to this proposal: 40, 41, 42, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 68, 69, 71, 72, 75, 76, 77, 78, 83, 86, 87, 99.

Which specific licensees will qualify for a renewal fee waiver?

Once approved by the Legislature, licensees with an eligible license type whose license was active, as defined by the Department and its guidelines, during the period of March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 may qualify for a renewal fee waiver pursuant to this proposal.

Can eligible licensees request the waiver if they haven’t paid their December 2020 or January 2021 renewal yet?

No. Once approved by the Legislature, this proposal applies to eligible licensees with licenses that expire beginning in February 2021. Eligible licensees whose licenses expire in December 2020 or January 2021 may request a waiver of their future applicable renewal fees due in December 2021 or January 2022.

If a license renewal states payment is due February 1, 2021, does the licensee need to pay?

Yes. The February 1, 2021 payment deadline refers to licenses that expire on January 31, 2021. Therefore, these are January 2021 renewals and thus are not eligible for relief until January 2022.

Should licensees with eligible license types that expire on February 28, 2021 pay their renewal fees?

Under the proposal, licensees will need to request a fee waiver and must certify they qualify for the waiver. Given the group of licenses that expire on February 28, 2021 may receive their renewal notice prior to approval of the fee relief, those who hold eligible license types are encouraged to monitor the ABC website and subscribe to ABC’s email notifications to ensure they have the latest information on the status of the program. This will allow them to receive instructions for submitting the waiver request as soon as the program is approved by the Legislature or receive direction on payment if the program is not approved. Currently, these licensees will have until March 31, 2021 to pay without penalty.

If a licensee pays their renewal fee, and later finds that they were eligible for a waiver, can the licensee receive a refund?

Unfortunately, no. ABC will not be able to provide any refunds.

If a licensee with an eligible license type operated during the time prescribed in the proposal but is no longer in business, will they qualify for a refund?

No. There are no refund options associated with this proposal. Eligible licensees may only request a waiver of their annual renewal fee.

How will a licensee know if they qualify for a fee waiver?

Once approved by the Legislature, ABC will immediately post the information to its public website and disseminate it via email to those on the email subscription list. Information regarding this fee relief will also be included with the annual notification mailed to licensees regarding their annual renewal fee.

What will licensees need to demonstrate or provide in order to receive the waiver?

Once approved by the Legislature, ABC will provide guidelines for eligible licensees to follow when requesting a fee waiver pursuant to this proposal. Those guidelines will be provided with any information disseminated to licensees regarding this relief.

When will the guidelines for fee waivers be available?

Guidelines will be finalized once the proposal is approved by the Legislature. ABC will work to get as much information out as quickly as possible.

Why were these license types selected?

These license types were considered to have been most directly affected during the pandemic due to a primary component of their business model being significantly restricted. For example, the on-site consumption of alcoholic beverages, which is commonly associated with restaurants and bars, has been restricted or eliminated as part of an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Conversely, license privileges such as manufacturing, distribution, and the off-sale consumption of alcoholic beverages have not been restricted in the same manner.

If a licensee receives a fee waiver, do they have to pay it back the next year?

No. Licensees that receive a fee waiver are not obligated to pay back those fees the following year.


Additional information may be obtained by contacting:

Alcoholic Beverage Control
3927 Lennane Drive, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95834

Email us at headquarters@abc.ca.gov
Call (916) 419-2500