Liquor License Renewals in Massachusetts

Liquor License Renewal in MAOnce you have cleared the challenge of obtaining a liquor license, you can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on running your establishment. However, there are also intricacies with liquor license renewals.

In Massachusetts, both on-premises and off-premises (typically referred to as pouring and retail licenses, respectively) licenses must be renewed annually. Liquor licenses issued in the state exist for the calendar year in which they were issued, and all licenses expire on December 31st unless properly renewed, according to John P. Connell, P.C. (“Issues that arise when renewing a liquor license in Massachusetts”).

It seems that every year’s tax deadline, April 15th, rolls around faster and faster, and the same thing is true for restaurateurs and publicans in the Bay State regarding November 30th – the deadline for renewing a liquor license.

Liquor License Renewal Process in MA

Provided that there are no changes, the liquor license renewal process is automatic provided that the paperwork and fee payment are completed and submitted on time. Regarding renewal, Massachusetts law ( G.L. c. 138, §16A) states: “Licenses issued under section twelve or fifteen shall be automatically renewed for the next annual license period upon application by the holder thereof during the month of November and shall be automatically renewed for a renewal of a seasonal license for the next seasonal licensing period upon application during the month prior to the commencement of the seasonal period upon payment of the fee, provided that said license is of the same type as the expiring license and covers the same licensed premises.”

However, the idea of “no changes” goes beyond the type of license and its location. Connell notes in his article three important aspects:

1)    The holder of the license must sign the renewal application prior to November 30th.

2)    The renewal application can only be signed by a person properly authorized to sign it, including only shareholders, directors and/or officers of a corporation, the manager of an LLC, or the manager of record, any of whom must be approved by the local licensing authority.

3)    There can be no new shareholders, directors and/or officers in a corporation, managers and members in an LLC, or change in managers of the establishment that not have been disclosed to and/or approved by the local licensing authority.

Very simply put: Get the wrong signature on the liquor license renewal application or submit an application with an approved signature but falsely stating that there are no new individuals with a financial interest in the liquor license and suffer a severe penalty. That penalty is the automatic revocation of the license!

With the potential for losing your liquor license on the line, you must be absolutely certain that the renewal paperwork and signatures are letter perfect. The subsequent penalty makes completing your taxes look like a walk in the park. You probably let a professional handle your taxes. It makes a lot of sense to let a professional also handle your liquor license renewal and management.