Keeping a Liquor License Safe While it is in Safekeeping

When a licensed establishment is closed for renovation or is damaged by natural disaster or when the business has to close for economic reasons, there are actions the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (“LCB”) requires of the licensee. Any licensed establishment closed for fifteen days or more (regardless of the reason) must deactivate the license and its LCB wholesale purchase permit cards, and they are to be held in “safekeeping” while the business is closed. This can only be done through the licensee’s PLCB+ account and the person to whom notifications can be mailed must be identified while the business is closed.

The license remains in safekeeping in Harrisburg until such time as the premises is ready to reopen with a valid county-issued health department license, or until the license is transferred. When the license is ready to be removed from safekeeping an application is made to the LCB which requires payment of a fee.

It should be noted that a license may only be placed into safekeeping for up to two years, at which point it will be revoked if further action is not taken. An additional year can be requested by a licensee for a fee to the LCB of $5,000.00 for counties in the fifth through eighth classes or $10,000 for licenses located in first through fourth class counties. For each additional year the safekeeping fee doubles. Applications for the additional years of safekeeping must be made before the initial two year period has expired or before any additional year thereafter expires, otherwise the license will be automatically revoked. There is no safekeeping fee if a licensee can demonstrate that it is unable to use the license through no fault of its own because of events such as fire, flood, or inability to obtain an occupancy permit. The presence of another business or the licensed business no longer being viable are not sufficient reasons to justify such a waiver.

It should also be mentioned that while a license is in safekeeping it must be validated or renewed with the LCB during the normal renewal periods for the county in which the license is issued, and tax returns must be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and Pennsylvania Labor and Industry. The license cannot be removed from safekeeping until all renewal fees and taxes have been paid and the Department of Revenue grants clearance.

It is strongly recommended that an attorney be consulted if a licensed establishment is closed for an extended period to determine if the license should be placed into safekeeping. Contact our firm with all your liquor license questions.

— J. Ken Butera

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