While individuals who have reached the legal drinking age can produce wine or beer at home for personal or family use, it is strictly prohibited by Federal law for individuals to produce distilled spirits at home (see 26 United States Code (U.S.C.) 5042(a)(2) and 5053(e)). Producing distilled spirits at any location other than a TTB-qualified distilled spirits plant can result in Federal charges for serious offenses and lead to various consequences, including but not limited to the following:
Under title 26 of the United States Code, section 5601 outlines criminal penalties for several activities. Offenses under this section are felonies that can be punished by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense.
– 5601(a)(1) – Possession of an unregistered still.
– 5601(a)(2) – Engaging in the business as a distiller without submitting an application and receiving registration notice.
– 5601(a)(6) – Distilling on prohibited premises. (According to 26 U.S.C. 5178(a)(1)(B), a distilled spirits plant cannot be located in a residence or in sheds, yards, or enclosures connected to a residence.)
– 5601(a)(7) – Unlawful production or use of materials suitable for producing distilled spirits.
– 5601(a)(8) – Unlawful production of distilled spirits.
– 5601(a)(11) – Purchase, receipt, and/or processing of distilled spirits while knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that Federal excise tax has not been paid on the spirits.
– 5601(a)(12) – Removal or concealment of distilled spirits on which tax has not been paid.
Under 26 U.S.C. 5602, engaging in the business as a distiller with the intention to defraud the United States of tax is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. According to 26 U.S.C. 5604(a)(1), transporting, possessing, buying, selling, or transferring any distilled spirit without the required closure specified in 26 U.S.C. 5301(d) (i.e., a closure that must be broken to open the container) is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, for each offense. Under 26 U.S.C. 5613, all distilled spirits that are not closed, marked, and branded as required by law and TTB regulations will be forfeited to the United States. Additionally, 26 U.S.C. 5615(1) states that unregistered stills and/or distilling apparatus will also be forfeited. Under 26 U.S.C. 5615(3), if any person carries on the business of a distiller without providing the required bond or with the intent to defraud the United States of tax on distilled spirits, the personal property of that person located in the distillery and their interest in the tract of land where the still is located will be forfeited to the United States. Possessing liquor or property intended for use in violation of the law, as stated in 26 U.S.C. 5686, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Such liquor and property are also subject to seizure and forfeiture provisions in 26 U.S.C. 5688. According to 26 U.S.C. 7201, any person who willfully tries to evade or defeat any Internal Revenue Code tax (including the tax on distilled spirits) has committed a felony and may be fined up to $100,000, imprisoned for up to 5 years, or both, along with the cost of prosecution. As per 26 U.S.C. 7301, any property subject to tax, or raw materials and/or equipment used for producing such property, in the possession of any person with the intention of being sold or removed in violation of the internal revenue laws can be seized and will be forfeited to the United States. Additionally, any property (including aircraft, vehicles, and vessels) used for transport or as a container for such property or materials may be seized and will be forfeited to the United States. Furthermore, 26 U.S.C. 7302 states that it is unlawful to possess any property intended for use, or that has been used, in violation of the internal revenue laws; no property rights shall exist in any such property.
Article sourced from TTB.