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Mar 14, 2011 02:09 PM

Groupon discounts that include alcohol violate ABCC rules [moved from Boston]

There's an article in the Herald today saying that the state ABCC has determined that allowing Groupon-like discounts to apply to alcohol violates ABCC rules. In particular, they say that it violates the "happy hour" rule," and may also unlawfully transfer an interest in the liquor license ownership.

It was a nice ride while it lasted...

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  1. Dangit! Now I am going to have to order like four Cubanos from Chez Henri before June 30.

    1. I had a feeling this was going to happen. Next there will be a class action suit from owners if AG/ABCC holds them personally responsible. Having never used a Groupon, do they tax you on your total bill? Or discounted portion?

      3 Replies
      1. re: T.Clark

        Groupon is a form of payment, like a gift card. So the tax is on the total bill.

        I've enjoyed more than a few groupons that paid for more cocktails than food. Hope that my go-to places don't read the Herald.

          1. re: C. Hamster

            OK, but Restaurants (meals tax vendors) must report gross receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beer SEPARATELY from food and other beverage sales on the appropriate lines of their meals tax return. It's a bit of semantics but it's up to the restaurant to decide how the Groupon was used, then tax accordingly.

            If a restaurant offers a patron, upon presentation of a coupon (which I think you can argue Groupon is), two meals for the usual price of one (which the restaurant could argue is the case), the price of the free meal, or portion of the discounted meal is excluded from the meals tax. The tax is due only on the actual amount the restaurant charges the patron, except when it comes to alcohol, in which case you cannot use a coupon to pay for alcohol, or taxes.

            1. re: jgg13

              I don't even drink and I think this is stupid too.

              1. re: kobuta

                It really has nothing to do with the tax. I think it falls under the "Happy Hour" law. You cannot discount booze for some people and not others, or you have to maintain the same price for 7 consecutive days.

                1. re: csammy

                  You actually can't charge a lower price for a drink than you have charged in the same calendar week. You can increase prices all the time.

            2. This make absolutely no sense (not that anything the ABCC does makes any sense- are we the only major city in the US that doesn't allow happy hour?! Or allow drinks on a patio!?- one of the few things I miss about Denver).

              Groupons function as a discounted gift certicate. Are they not going to allow certificates to be used for booze? Or even gift certificates in general?

              5 Replies
              1. re: Kirs

                Gift certs are typically $x for $x value unlike the deals and such. So if a place had a coupon it should fall under the same umbrella that groupons and such are.

                1. re: jgg13

         gift certificates are usually discounted.

                  1. re: eireann

                    And most of them say right on the gift cert that you can't use it for alcohol. I'd consider as being pretty much in the same boat as groupon though.,

                2. re: Kirs

                  Welcome to the Nanny State. Also, a brilliant move that will help stifle the economy!

                  Just wait until someone gets sick from a bad tureen of head cheese - all the charcuterie joints will have the hammer brought down.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    I thought that's already started happening. Didn't bisonette have to dump a few hundred pounds of house cured meat last year?