California, CDTFA and Proposed Cannabis Tax Regulations

california cannabis tax

On July 20, 2018, the CDTFA released its discussion paper on proposed rulemaking regarding the administration of the cannabis cultivation and excise taxes. This blog post highlights the issues addressed in the proposed regulation.

By way of background, on August of 2017 the CDTFA promulgated two emergency regulations. The first, Regulation 3700, Cannabis Excise and Cultivation Taxes, was promulgated to ensure that essential guidance was available when California’s regulated cannabis market became operational on January 1, 2018. The second, Regulation 3701, Collection and Remittance of the Cannabis Excise Tax, was promulgated to clarify the imposition, collection, and reporting of the Cannabis Excise Tax. We previously discussed these regulations here, and we a discussed the Cultivation and Excise Tax here and here.

The CDTFA will not take action on Regulation 3701. However, the CDTFA has proposed many revisions to Regulation 3700. We summarize them below, and provide some commentary throughout.

Expands the definition of cannabis flower to include trimmed or untrimmed flower but excludes leaves and stems removed before sale. The consequence of this proposed change is to assure that even trimmed flower will be taxed at the highest tax rate of $9.25 per dry weight ounce.
Clarifies that “fresh cannabis plant” must be identified as fresh cannabis plant and recorded in the upcoming track-and-trace system. Until the track-and-trace system come online, a paper invoice or manifest must indicate that “fresh cannabis plant” is being transferred. This documentation is important. Fresh cannabis plant is taxed at the lowest rate of $1.29 per ounce; the proposed change clarifies what information is required to support paying tax at the lowest cultivation tax rate.
Prohibits separately stating the cannabis excise tax on the receipt provided to a retail cannabis customer. Instead, the regulations require the invoice to state “The cannabis excise taxes are included in the total amount of this invoice”. Retailers purchasing from third-party distributors must compute the excise tax based on their wholesale cost plus 60% mark-up as determined by the CDTFA. Separately stating the excise tax allows a consumer to determine the wholesale cost of a cannabis retailer. The proposed prohibition does not provide retailers the flexibility to disclose the computation of the tax to its customers.
Clarifies that transactions between two distributors must document that no cannabis excise tax was collected or remitted on the transaction. That is, the distributor that sells cannabis to the Continue Reading

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