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Of the many alcohol-related bills that passed the Tennessee Legislature this year and were signed by Gov. Bill Lee, one maintains a popular pandemic rule but taxes consumers for it.

Lee signed an executive order last year while COVID-19 restrictions were in place that allowed restaurants to sell to-go alcohol with restrictions.

The enacted House Bill 241 allows those sales to continue until July 1, 2023, but it also adds a 15% tax on those alcohol purchases.

The tax was not levied previously on to-go alcohol purchases because the governor cannot create a tax through executive order, Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, said during session.

By creating the new law, the Legislature can enforce Tennessee's liquor-by-the-drink tax on those to-go alcohol orders from restaurants. The Tennessee General Review Fiscal Committee estimated the tax would generate $4.7 million in revenue in the upcoming fiscal year and $3 million in revenue the following fiscal year.

The to-go alcohol orders are allowed if they are sold with prepared food, have a secure cap and consists of not more than one drink, a legal size of beer or bottle of wine.

The same hours of alcohol sales are valid, restaurants cannot sell bottles of distilled spirits, they must confirm the customer is 21 years old or older and they must post a sign saying that it is unlawful to drink and drive.

House Bill 866, related to alcohol delivery from package stores, is aimed to help consumers by capping the allowable delivery charge to 10% of the sale if the package store does not charge a flat fee for delivery. Lee signed the bill and it is now Public Charter 185.

Wine and beer distribution

Several changes were made to laws pertaining to local wineries and breweries this legislative session that could affect consumers.

Small winery direct shippers, which manufacture less than 270,000 liters of wine per calendar year, now can ship up to 54 liters a year to an individual.

Wine direct shippers, however, only can ship wine that is sold under a name they own, license or produce or one that is produced exclusively for that winery under an existing contract under Public Chapter 331, which becomes law Jan. 1.

Tennessee’s 115 small craft breweries can self-distribute up to 1,800 barrels of their beer throughout the state, starting Oct. 1. That means that the local beer offerings can now be sold at restaurants and packaged stores outside of the county where they were produced if the brewery falls under the 1,800 threshold.

If the brewery is larger, it will need to distribute beer through a distributor.

A package store or restaurant with the proper alcohol license now can sell its inventory to another store with the proper license if it goes out of business. The business just needs to alert the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Tennessee Department of Revenue about the sale at least 10 days prior.

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Suze Orman warns homeowners to avoid ‘huge mistake’ when refinancing their mortgage

SUZE Orman has warned homeowners to avoid a common yet "huge mistake" when refinancing their mortgage.

The financial expert said that failing to pick the right mortgage term could see Americans saddled with higher interest repayments instead.

1Americans often make a "big mistake" when attempting to refinance their mortgage, Suze Orman has warnedCredit: Rex

Suze first warned homeowners about the mistake a couple of years ago, but her advice has resurfaced after a dip in mortgage rates has sparked a flurry of refinancing deals.

Reports from Yahoo Finance state that rates have plunged to their lowest levels in four months, with average rates at 2.96%.

This is a further knock down from a year ago, when rates dipped to 3.13% in 2020.

But while Americans race to get the best deals, Suze's warnings have been circulating once more.

In a blog from 2019, she said that you need to factor in how long you've spent paying off your mortgage already when looking for a new deal.

Suze gave the following example that if you've spent 14 years paying off a 30-year mortgage, then you should hunt for a 16-year deal.

But she said a "big mistake" Americans make while refinancing is taking out a longer mortgage term than they actually need.

So many will take out a fresh 30-year mortgage instead of looking for a one that is shorter.

But Suze warned that this means you'll end up paying back higher interest costs in the long-run - even if the rate is lower than what you're paying now.

"Sure, the new mortgage is at a lower interest rate, but you just extended your mortgage-payment on this home to 44 years!" she said. "That’s 44 years of interest payments."

She added that her basic "rule of refinancing" is to never extend your total payback period past 30 years.

She said that even with the lower interest rate on the new loan you'll take up, your total interest payments will be more than what you would be paying if you just stuck to your current mortgage deal.

However, she said that your lender will usually offer a 15-year or 30-year mortgage deal, as they don't often agree to customising a mortgage deal to suit your timeline.

But if homeowners refinance their mortgages right, they could save thousands of dollars.

Mortgage lender Freddie Mac revealed that those who refinanced their 30-year mortgage in 2020 could save an average of $2,800 annually.

It comes as hard-hit homeowners can apply for cash to help them pay their mortgages.

Many Americans have struggled to meet their repayments due to the Covid crisis, but the federal government is understood to have set aside nearly $10billion to help homeowners get by.

The US Treasury Department is sending the money to state governments, which will then distribute the aid through state housing agencies.

The amount of aid per state depends on how many late mortgage payments and foreclosures have been reported, along with unemployment statistics and other related data.

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