The head of the TTB, Administrator John J. Manfreda passed away on Saturday, May 25, 2019 at the age of 73. Manfreda has been in charge of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau – best known simply as the TTB since his appointment by Secretary of the Treasury John Snow took effect January 4, 2005. The role of the TTB is to collect taxes on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition; protect consumers by ensuring the integrity of alcohol products; ensure only qualified businesses enter the alcohol and tobacco industries; and to prevent unfair and unlawful market activity for alcohol and tobacco products.
Prior to this appointment, Manfreda served as TTB Deputy Administrator, since the Bureau’s founding in January 2003. As Administrator Manfreda was responsible for overseeing the collection of $20.6 billion in taxes in fiscal year 2018 including federal alcohol, tobacco, and firearms and ammunition excise taxes. The department is also responsible for the permit systems and regulations established for those industries under the authority of the Internal Revenue Code and the Federal Alcohol Administration Act.
Top Goals – Timely Issuance of Permits, Focus on Service and Market Compliance
Under Manfreda’s leadership the top two goals for the department as outlined in the TTBs 2018 annual report was to “Facilitate Commerce through the Timely Issuance of Permits to Qualified Applicants” and “Facilitate Commerce through a Modern Labeling Program Focused on Service and Market Compliance.” Though the recent government shutdown certainly slowed down operations the results reported in the 2018 annual report show a tremendous improvement on permit and label approval turnaround times. Keep in mind that these times were reduced while the volume from distilled spirits, beer and wine continues to grow year after year.
Manfreda brought years of experience in alcohol and tobacco law and regulation to this post. Prior to his appointment as TTB Deputy Administrator, Manfreda was chief counsel for our predecessor agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), from 1999 to 2003. In total, Manfreda was with the ATF Chief Counsel’s office or its Internal Revenue Service predecessor for 33 years, beginning as a staff attorney in July 1970 and serving as Associate Chief Counsel for Alcohol and Tobacco from 1978 through 1996. During his tenure with ATF, Manfreda was the principal author of the Distilled Spirits Tax Revision Act, and he has represented TTB or ATF before congressional committees and in contacts with federal and state agencies, trade associations, and public interest groups.
Manfreda received his law degree from the American University School of Law in Washington, DC, in 1970, and he is a member of the bar in the District of Columbia and for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Manfreda also earned a master’s degree in tax law at the Georgetown University Law School in 1974. In addition, he majored in business finance and economics as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland.
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In a Statement from the TTB
“Many of us knew and worked with John for most of our careers. He was a kind and honorable man, with a sincere belief in public service and, through his example, inspired us all to be better keepers of the public trust. In his nearly 50 years of government service, John left his mark on nearly all aspects of the federal laws and regulations related to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. He played a key role in TTB’s founding and was devoted to our mission, serving as TTB’s first Deputy Administrator before being appointed Administrator in 2005. John previously served as Chief Counsel for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) from 1999-2003, prior to which he had a distinguished career in ATF Counsel and its Internal Revenue Service predecessor that spanned over 33 years.
Most importantly, though, John was a mentor and a friend. As a visionary who took lessons from the past, he steered us through difficult times and prepared us for the challenges and opportunities of the future. John’s passion for his work was evident to all who knew him, as was his unparalleled dedication to TTB’s workforce.
As we mourn John’s passing, we also rededicate ourselves to serving in his model, continuing to administer TTB’s vital mission for the public and the industries regulated by TTB. We appreciate your patience and support as we work through this difficult time.”
In a Statement from Distilled Spirits Council
Chris Swonger, President and CEO of DISCUS and Responsibility.org said, “On behalf of the members of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, we are deeply saddened by the passing of TTB Administrator John Manfreda. He has been a friend and colleague to so many of us in the spirits industry and he will be sorely missed. John exemplified the best in public service and will be remembered as a great steward of TTB. He always had an open door to discuss industry concerns; made customer service a top priority; and implemented the Bureau’s mission with innovative solutions. DISCUS and its members remain grateful for John’s dedication, service and support of our industry over the decades.”
In a Statement from the American Craft Spirits Association
“In his role, he had been a true friend to the craft spirits industry and always worked to ensure that small producers had positive professional relationships with federal regulators. He will be greatly missed by all in our organization and the greater craft spirits community. He was a regular fixture at American Craft Spirits Association’s annual Fly-In/Public Policy Conference and a champion of the craft beverage industry. We offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Rosemary, his three children, nine grandchildren and all of his family and friends.”
John is survived by his wife, three children, and nine grandchildren. You can find information on the funeral arrangements here. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at www.stjude.org.