Governor Signs Legislative Package Providing Fee Waivers
On February 23, 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom signed a package of immediate actions that will speed needed relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering the most significant economic hardship from the COVID-19 Recession. Read the full February 23 news release.
The Department is approved to provide fee waivers for two years to approximately 59,000 businesses heavily impacted by health and safety restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Restaurants, bars, and other specified licensees with on-sale privileges will be eligible for fee waivers of licenses with expiration dates between March 1, 2021, and February 28, 2023. The statutory changes authorize the waiver of license renewal fees for specified license types. Review the Requirements and Guidelines page for detailed information and Verify Eligibility.
The following is a list of anticipated Frequently Asked Questions that will provide additional detail about fee waivers:
What relief is being provided to ABC licensed businesses?
The Governor has signed legislation that includes fee waivers for eligible ABC licensees heavily impacted by the public health and safety restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Specified licensees whose licenses expire between March 1, 2021, and February 28, 2023, 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 (including duplicates) will be eligible for a waiver pursuant to this proposal: 02, 23, 40, 41, 42, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 68, 69, 71, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 83, 86, 87, 99. Only license type 02’s that produce less than 100,000 gallons during the fiscal year in which the license expires may be eligible for a Renewal Fee Waiver.
Duplicate 02 license types are not eligible for a fee waiver.
What are the eligibility requirements for a renewal fee waiver?
The waiver of license renewal fees applies to licensees that were impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic and that hold a specified license types that were active, between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, inclusive. For the purpose of determining eligibility for this waiver the term “active” means:
- License privileges were exercised at any time during the specified period at the licensed premises. This does not include any license that was surrendered or that was indefinitely suspended for the entire period specified;
- A catering permit that is issued in conjunction with a license that was itself “active” as defined above, even if the catering permit was not itself used at any time during the specified period; or
- A seasonal license for which business operations were restricted due to health and safety orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic barring the exercise of license privileges during the specified period.
- Only type 02 licenses that produced less than 100,000 gallons of wine annually may be eligible for a Renewal Fee Waiver.
What is the deadline to submit a renewal fee waiver?
To receive the fee relief, licensees must complete and submit the Form ABC-SCF either online or by US mail prior to the expiration of the license.
Licensees will receive their renewal notice in the mail. The renewal notice clearly states the expiration date of the license. Licensees should not submit the waiver request prior to receiving their renewal notice in the mail. If submitting the waiver by mail, it is recommended that licensees return the top portion of their renewal notice with the waiver and, if applicable, a payment for any remaining fees due. The waiver must be postmarked on or before the expiration of the license to be considered timely.
How does a licensee apply for the renewal fee waiver?
Licensees can submit a renewal fee waiver after receiving their annual Application for Renewal of Alcoholic Beverage License. These renewal notices are typically received approximately 60 days prior to the license expiration date.
- Online: To submit the waiver online, visit Renewal Fee Waiver page. Use the online Verify Eligibility tool to identify which license type(s) are eligible for the renewal fee waiver. If all renewal fees are waived you will be able to submit your fee waiver online.
- Postal Mail: To submit a paper waiver by mail, licenses should also use the online Verify Eligibility tool to identify which license type(s) are eligible for the renewal fee waiver and if there would be a remaining balance due after the waiver is applied. Licensees can download and complete the ABC-SCF then send the form with their payment for the remaining balance to ABC Headquarters. It is recommended that licensees include the top portion of their renewal notice if submitting a waiver by mail. Digital signatures will be accepted on the paper form.
Licensees must only submit one waiver by either email or postal mail for each license number. Submitting multiple waivers for the same license number or submitting the same waiver using both email and postal mail will delay the processing of the waivers.
Further guidance for submitting a renewal fee waiver are included on the ABC-SCF Instructions.
The program provides for two years of license renewal fee relief. Will licensees need to submit two waiver requests?
Yes. The annual license renewal process will continue as normal and licensees will need to request a waiver for each of the two years authorized. A second waiver request must be completed when the licensee receives the renewal notice for 2022.
What will licensees need to demonstrate or provide in order to receive the waiver?
The only document required to apply for the waiver is the completed Form ABC-SCF (online or paper form). In order to expedite the process if submitting the waiver by mail, ABC encourages licensees to submit the completed ABC-SCF with the top portion of the licensee’s renewal notice. Licensees with eligible license types will need to self-certify on the ABC-SCF that each of the eligible license types were active (as defined) during the period from March 1, 2020, to December 21,2020, and that the licensed premises’ primary operation was disrupted by health and safety restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a self-certification process and no supporting documents are required to apply for the waiver. If additional information is needed to determine eligibility, ABC will contact the licensee.
If a licensee adds a license type to their existing license after December 31, 2020, can that new license type be included in the waiver request?
No. Although a licensee can add and remove license types to their license, each license type must have been active (as defined) between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, in order to be eligible for a waiver.
Can eligible licensees request the waiver if they haven’t paid their January 2021 or February 2021 renewal yet?
No. This renewal fee waiver program does not apply to licensees with expiration dates prior to March 31, 2021. Eligible licensees whose licenses expire in January or February 2021 may request a waiver of their future applicable renewal fees due in January 2022 or February 2022 when they receive the renewal notices for that year.
If a license renewal states payment is due March 1, 2021, does the licensee need to pay?
Yes. The March 1, 2021 payment deadline refers to licenses that expire on February 28, 2021. Therefore, these are February 2021 renewals and thus are not eligible for relief until February 2022.
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 is not authorized under this law 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 be eligible for a refund?
No. Refunds are expressly prohibited under this law. Eligible licensees may only request a waiver of their annual renewal fee.
Why were these license types selected?
These license types are 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 prohibited as part of an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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 the fees that have been waived.