Friday, February 2, 2007

Comedy of errors, and a taxing day

Well, maybe not really a "comedy", but plenty of errors.

My first clue that the day wouldn't go well was while I was performing my monthly head-shaving this morning. My clippers died one-third of the way through the job. To put it mildly, this caused something of a delay in getting to the brewery and starting the day's projects.

Once I became presentable again, I headed over to Ace Hardware to pick up the tubing that I ordered on Monday, along with some bits and pieces for some other projects. Only one roll of tubing out of the two I had ordered actually arrived, but I figured that would at least get me started on today's main job: replacing the jumpers between the kegs and the wall brackets in the cellar. These are the lines that supply CO2 to and remove beer from the kegs. The existing ones were old and moldy and variously-sized, so replacing them will help the consistency of the beers poured at the bar.

Apart from the screwdriver, utility knife, and hose clamp edges gouging great bloody holes in my hands, which a few drops of Super Glue sealed nicely, the job went pretty well for the first four lines. That's when I realized that I had forgotten to buy any hose clamps. So the other eight lines will have to wait until Monday, when I'll get the second roll of tubing anyway.

There were some keg orders to fill, and the pub needed a few, so I filled those after lunch.

I've been running behind on my paperwork; the three invoices for this week's wholesale deliveries, plus January's taxes. Over the years, I've developed some software that help me with the taxes, but they're still a pain in the backside. Every two weeks, we submit Form 5000.24 Excise Tax Return to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. That's how the federal government collects their $7.00 on every barrel of beer we sell.

TTB Excise Tax Return Form 5000.24

We also submit Form 5130.9 Brewer's Report of Operations every month. It's a summary of the beer that we brewed, filtered, packaged, removed, returned, and destroyed during the reporting period. The feds actually want us to submit this form on a quarterly basis, but Nebraska's absurdly antiquated liquor laws require us to send a copy along with our monthly state returns.

TTB Brewer's Report of Operations Form 5130.9

Speaking of Nebraska's absurdly antiquated liquor laws, we file tax returns with the state every month. One submission is Form 35-7137 Sales to Nebraska Wholesalers, which lists the invoice number, wholesaler name, and number of gallons (separated by package size) for every transaction we had with an in-state wholesaler. This is a completely extraneous piece of paper, since it's got nothing to do with how much tax we pay.

Facsimile of Nebraska Form 37-7137 Sales to Nebraska Wholesalers

The real money is served up on Form 35-7127 Nebraska Craft Brewery Monthly Tax Return. Nebraska demands 30.69¢ per gallon — that's more than $9.51 per barrel — on every drop of beer that goes through the filter. Never mind the unavoidable spillage during kegging, or the beer that's left in the bottom of the tank that won't fill another keg, or beer that's returned from the trade, or beer that's destroyed due to spoilage. If it ends up in the bright beer tanks, it's taxed. And compare that tax rate — 30.69¢ per gallon — to the rate we paid in Wisconsin: $1.00 per barrel, less than 3¼¢ per gallon, and that only applied to beer that was actually sold, with credits for returned and destroyed beer. Nebraska has quietly worked its way up the list of states whose citizens endure the highest tax burden, and their liquor policies are no exception.

Facsimile of Nebraska Form 35-7127 Nebraska Craft Brewer Monthly Tax Return

My "other job" at Gottberg is Network Administrator, and I had to straighten out some misbehaving routers this afternoon. After all that, I decided it was time to call it a week; I called Paris at home and asked her if she wanted to join me for a beer, and she did.

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