Comptroller of Maryland. Serving the People. Peter Franchot, Comptroller
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Industry FAQs about Alcohol and Tobacco

Alcohol Products

Can I sell wine at a farmer's market?

Licensed retailers can apply for a special Farmer's Market Permit from the Comptroller's Office to sell wine produced by a Class 4 limited winery at a Farmerís Market listed with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Only one permit may be issued to a licensed retailer at any one time for each Farmerís Market. The permit must be issued to a licensed retailer authorized to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off-premises, and whose license was issued by the local licensing board in the jurisdiction in which the Farmerís Market will be held. For more information, see Alcohol Tax Bulletin AB-63.

At what price are retailers allowed to sell alcohol?

Retailers can sell alcohol to consumers for whatever price they want to sell it for - except selling below cost may be a violation of the U.S. Commercial Code.

Should retailers maintain a log of product received and shipped?

Yes, retail receipts should be kept for two years or until audited. See Article 2B, Section 12-107.

How long should Catered Event Certificates be kept on file?

State regulations do not require Catered Event Certificates to be kept for a certain length of time. A revolving calendar year should suffice. Check the regulations issued by your county liquor board.

Do I need a catering license if I plan to serve just food at the catering event?

Yes. Catering food requires a license from the county.

Do I need a catering license if I plan to serve alcohol at the catering event?

Yes. An alcohol catering license is needed if you plan to furnish alcoholic beverages. It is known as a Statewide Caterer (SCAT) License. See COMAR

How do I obtain a One-Day Liquor License?

They are issued by the County Liquor Boards.

Where can I find out the amount of wine sold and produced in Maryland?

This information is available in the Comptroller's alcohol and tobacco tax annual reports.

Is a permit required to make confectionary food products containing alcohol?

Yes, you must obtain a $50 Non-Beverage Class C Permit. See Tax General TG 2-101(c).

Is a permit required to purchase alcohol for hospitals and schools?

Yes, a Non-Beverage Class E Permit is required. However, there is no fee.

What is a UNIMERC Code?

It is a six-digit code issued by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) to identify a brand. For more information, call 202-628-3544.

Who regulates "happy hour?"

"Happy hour" is regulated by each county's liquor board. See Article 2B, Section 12-106.

Is price filing or brand registration required for wine, distilled spirits or beer?

Price filing is no longer required for any form of alcohol. Brand registration is required for beer only. Brands of wine and spirits are listed on the wholesaler license.

Who pays the beer excise tax?

A wholesaler pays the tax if the beer is imported from another country. An out-of-state nonresident dealer (a.k.a. supplier) pays the tax if the beer is purchased by a Maryland wholesaler. See Article 2B, Section 5-102 and 5-105.

Can a beer manufacturer require a wholesaler to pay extra on a product ordered for advertising funds?

Beer: A beer manufacturer cannot require participation, but participation by the wholesaler is legal for beer. A manufacturer can charge the wholesaler extra for advertising their product, but they cannot make them pay it. See Article 2B, Section 17-102.

Wine and Distilled Spirits: These manufacturers cannot charge extra for advertising.

What is meant by the three-tiered system?

It is a system whereby alcohol is sold from the supplier to the wholesaler, from the wholesaler to the retailer, and from the retailer to the consumer.

I need an alcohol form. Where do I look?

See Alcohol Tax Forms.

Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products

Who pays the cigarette excise tax?

It is paid by wholesalers when they purchase tax stamps.

What is meant by the "Master Settlement Agreement"?

The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) is an agreement that signed in November, 1998, by attorneys general in 46 states and five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. The agreement resolved lawsuits filed by the attorney general against the tobacco industry and provided the states funding intended for tobacco prevention and control. Under the MSA, Maryland was awarded $1 billion over 10 years, beginning July 1, 2000. The Maryland legislature enacted Senate Bill 896/House Bill 1425 in April, 2000, which created the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program (CRFP). The CRFP oversees the use of MSA funds which are currently being used to fund activities and projects.

What does OTP stand for?

Other Tobacco Products (other than cigarettes).

When was the OTP tax created?

July 1, 2000.

Who reports and pays the OTP tax? And how often are reports filed?

Whoever reports the tax, should remit the tax, be it the wholesaler, retailer or consumer. If the wholesaler remits the tax, they should provide the retailer with a letter saying the tax was paid on their behalf. A wholesaler must report monthly. A retailer or consumer must report quarterly the date the product was purchased. Ultimately, the wholesaler has the primary responsibility to pay the tax.

On what amount does a tobacco manufacturer pay the OTP tax?

The tobacco manufacturer pays the tax on the amount it costs to make the OTP product, not the invoice amount.

Does an out-of-state manufacturer have to register as a wholesaler to pay the OTP tax?

Yes, if the OTP is sold to Maryland by the manufacturer. Anyone who holds a cigarette license is obligated to submit the OTP tax.

Can a wholesaler remit OTP tax for their subwholesaler and the subwholesaler file a return for the same period showing no tax due?

No, the "wholesaler" for the purpose of this tax, means a person located in or out of the state who sells to a retailer in Maryland. The tax shall be paid by the wholesaler who sells the OTP to a retailer in Maryland. Subwholesalers are responsible for remitting the OTP tax on sales to Maryland retailers for the report month.

Is documentation needed with the submission of the OTP tax report?

No. However, keep supporting documentation for audits, should they occur.

Can a wholesaler remit OTP tax by calculating 15 percent of their selling price rather than 15 percent of their cost?

No. The tax rate is 15 percent of the "wholesale price". The wholesale price is defined as "the price for which a wholesaler buys other tobacco products". The tax must be calculated on the cost of the OTP sold during the report month.

I am a Tobacco Vending Machine Operator. How do I get a tobacco vending machine sticker?

Contact the Field Enforcement Division at 410-260-7490. Agents do not apply the stickers.

The stickers will be mailed to the Vending Machine Operator, providing the following information: name, company name (if applicable), and address.

I need a tobacco form. Where do I look?

See Tobacco Tax Forms.


What is the difference between a regulation and a statute?

The legislature enacts statutes. The Comptroller adopts, amends and repeals regulations under the authority granted by statutes, following the procedures in the Administrative Procedure Act.


I need a letter stating that all state taxes have been paid. Who do I contact?

Contact the General Accounting Division at 410-260-7813.

I cannot renew my license due to tax liabilities with the Comptroller's Office. Who do I contact?

Business liability: 410-767-1908
Personal liability: 410-649-0633 (usually an income tax issue)
Personal property tax: Clerk of the Circuit Court (in the respective county)

Who do I contact at IRS with federal tax questions?

IRS individual tax questions: 1-800-829-1040
IRS business tax questions: 1-800-829-4933
Web site:

Links for Alcohol and Tobacco Tax
Taxpayer Assistance
Business Tax FAQs
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax
  Consumer FAQs about Tobacco
  Consumer FAQs about Alcoholic Beverages
  Industry FAQs about Alcohol and Tobacco
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