By Anoosha Vemulapati // MIRA Director, Government Affairs
As independent retailers, it is important to be aware of the industry rules and regulations to avoid penalties against your business. In Michigan, here is what you can do to prevent violations or fines:
In a glass or plastic frame, suspend your liquor license on the wall. Failure to do so will result in a fine from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. MIRA suggests investing in one large multipurpose frame to contain every single certificate/license that you have earned. This is an efficient method of keeping all your documents in one area and ensuring to potential inspectors that your business exhibits the proper qualifications, especially in a situation where the owner is not present. Displaying all documents in one presentable frame is also advantageous in keeping you mindful of the license expiration date, as well as to bring ease to the consumer.
Keep up to date with all certifications and licensing requirements.
Sales tax license. A sales tax of 6% on retail sales must be remitted to the State of Michigan. Therefore, retailers must be licensed to collect tax from their customers and remit the sales tax to the State of Michigan. Sales tax licenses must be renewed annually and expire in the same month administered of the following year.
Business occupancy permit. It is important to cross-check whether your operating business property is issued an approval permit from the city. Many cities, such as Detroit, require a permit to operate and will penalize your business if you are unable to provide one upon inspection. The business occupancy permit establishes that your building is safe for use and that it complies with all local laws and ordinances. It is not necessary to renew this license unless your business is undergoing major renovation or ownership change.
Food service license. For a business selling any foods other than low-risk prepackaged foods, it is required to obtain your food service license prior to selling any ready-to-eat exposed food at your store. Failure to do so may result in hefty fines/misdemeanors (up to $1000 per day per incident) or complete seizure of products. Food service licenses are administered by MDARD in Michigan and expire annually on April 30th. Therefore, it is important to renew your license at least a few days prior to this date.
While you may be aware of regular compliance checks for tobacco sale for underage users, Michigan members may also consider that it is a requirement to keep four months of original copies of wholesale tobacco purchases available at the moment’s notice for inspection by either local police authorities or state police. The FDA frequently engages in tobacco audits to search for cigarettes that are not properly taxed according to where they were purchased. Keep them available in hand immediately by the cashier, or risk potential seizure of all tobacco products.
Lastly, for gas station owners, it is important to keep up to date with your underground storage tank certification. You must monitor the tank meters every month and have the reports available for an underground storage tank inspector, as it is a federal regulation. Be sure to identify and distinguish staff to be trained according to the Class A, Class B, and Class C operator requirements. With the exception of Class C operators, Class A, and Class B operators both must pass a written exam to qualify for the certification.
While this is not an exhaustive list, MIRA is here to support your business in all matters, beginning with avoiding pesky penalties. I encourage you to keep an eye out for the Michigan legislative agenda to be published near the end of the summer, which will serve to highlight MIRA’s legislative priorities in Michigan.