Rules & Regulations

Adopted by authority of Article 28, Section 20-11 of Baltimore City Code as last amended by Ordinance 10-343 July 9, 2010

1. Effective July 25, 2010, beverages distributed in the City of Baltimore shall bear a two-cent tax. Beverages subject to this tax include but are not limited to:

  • Beer, ale, or other malt beverage;
  •  Distilled spirits;
  •  Wine, wine cooler or other wine product;
  •  Fruit drinks with less than 10% natural juice;
  •  Ready-to-drink tea;
  •  Soda water, carbonated water, natural or artificial mineral water, or natural or spring water;
  •  Soft drinks including cola, ginger ale, root beer, sarsaparilla or any other carbonated or un-carbonated beverage commonly known as a “soft drink.”

2. A “soft drink” is defined as any beverage, except water, that does not contain alcohol.
Exclusions-Beverage containers meeting the following conditions are excluded from the beverage container tax:

  •  Dairy products,
  •  Non-dairy milk substitutes such as soy milk, hazelnut milk, other nut, rice or other grain milk,
  • A beverage containing at least 10% natural fruit juice and,
  •  Two liter or larger beverage containers

4. Tax Due This tax is due when the dealer/retailer receives the beverage containers and must be paid on or before the 25th day of the month following the month in which the dealer received the product.

  • The distributor shall remit to the Baltimore City Director of Finance the tax along with a monthly report of all containers distributed. Initially, a single pre-printed report form will be mailed to registered distributors. Distributors should use a copy of this form to file the monthly tax report. Optionally, a distributor may download a blank form from the City web site.
  •  An extension for the initial report and payment due on August 25, 2010 for the July 25-July 31, 2010 reporting period will be granted if the City receives a written request from the distributor prior to August 25, 2010, which includes its name, address, phone number and Baltimore City taxpayer identification number (see 8.a. infra). Any distributor granted an extension will not be charged interest and penalties for this initial period only provided full payment of the tax due is received by the City on or before September 25, 2010. If full payment of the tax due is not received by the City on or before September 25, 2010, then the extension is automatically revoked and penalties and interest will be deemed to have accrued during the extension period and will be immediately due and payable.
  • The following table provides an example of the due dates for Calendar year 2010:

2010 Beverage Container Tax Payment and Reporting Calendar

Reporting Month Tax Reporting Period Report & Tax Due on or Before
July July 25-July 31 August 25 (no extension)
July July 25-July 31 September 25 (Extension)
See 3.b above
August August 1-August 31 September 25
September September 1-September 30 October 25
October October 1-October 31 November 25
November November 1-November 30 December 25
December December 1-December 31 January 25

Distributor; A distributor is defined as:

  •  Any person who supplies beverage containers to a dealer (retailer) in the City,
  •  Any person who supplies and services vending machines in the City and,
  • Any multiple-outlet retail chain store that supplies beverages to its individual outlets in the City

Legal Incidence; The legal incidence of the beverage container tax falls on the distributor who delivers the taxable beverage to a dealer (retailer). Legal incidence of the tax shall not fall on the end consumer of the taxable product as the tax is not a sales tax (not charged at the point of sale or dependant on the retail sale of the beverage) and may not be characterized as such.

Dealer (Retailer) Tax Liability; A dealer (retailer), who transports a taxable beverage container or causes a taxable beverage container to be transported into the City, will be liable for the payment of the tax on that beverage as if the dealer were a distributor, unless the dealer obtains a written certification from the supplier that the beverage container tax will be paid by the distributor.

Record Keeping; Distributors and dealers (retailers) must keep complete and accurate records of all transactions involving non-reusable beverage containers including all source documents such as orders, invoices and delivery documents which support the organization’s general accounting system. These records are to be made available at all times during business hours for inspection and audit by the City.

  • All beverage distributors (including dealers who distribute beverages) distributing beverages in the City of Baltimore shall apply to the Baltimore Finance Department for a taxpayer identification number. The taxpayer identification number shall uniquely identify each eligible distributor. 
  • Upon delivery of taxed beverages, distributors will provide dealers/retailers with a certification of taxes paid in a form approved by the City of Baltimore.
  • Distributors shall retain a copy of each certification provided to a dealer and the certifications shall be supported by the distributor’s orders, invoices and delivery documents for beverage containers delivered in the City.
  • Instead of listing individual items on the tax certificate, the distributor may reference by number a specific invoice or shipping document, if that document clearly delineates taxable goods. A copy of the reference document must be attached to the tax certificate.
  • Dealers/retailers shall not accept delivery of any taxable beverage container unless they also receive a certification of taxes paid in a form approved by the City of Baltimore. The certification shall be supported by the dealer’s order, invoice and delivery documents for beverages purchased.
  • Distributors and dealers must keep all records for the same period that is required for federal tax purposes.
  • Multiple-outlet retailers and distributors with centralized offices located outside of the City shall produce records within 72 hours of a request.
  • The monthly tax report, filed by the distributor shall equal tax certificates provided retailers. The monthly report shall be signed by an authorized representative.

Penalties –Penalties for failure to comply with Baltimore City Ordinance 10-343 and these Rules and Regulations include the following:

1. Late payments will be subject to:

a. 10% penalty of the amount of tax due and, 

b. 1% per month interest charge for each month or fraction thereof that the tax is overdue.

2. Additional penalties may be assessed including:

a. Any unpaid taxes, interest and penalties are a lien on the property of any person liable for the payment.

b. A person who violates any provision of this law, rule or regulation may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction, subjected to a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment of not more than 12 months or both.

These regulations have been approved on the 9th day of July, 2011 and submitted to Legislative Reference pursuant to Section 20-11 of Baltimore City Ordinance 10-343.