Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee Guide

Helping your business succeed is important to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). The fees you collect and pay to the state provide funding for a program for consumers to return, recycle, and ensure safe and environmentally sound disposal of covered electronic devices (CEDs).

This guide will help you better understand the Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee (eWaste fee) and the obligations of CED retailers and consumers in California.

Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee

The eWaste fee is imposed on the retail purchase or lease of certain video display devices that have been identified by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) as CEDs. The CDTFA collects the fee, which provides funding for the collection and recycling of these video products, in cooperation with the Department of Resources and Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

A retailer of CEDs must register with the CDTFA, file returns and remit the fee to the CDTFA. A consumer (customer) who purchases CEDs for personal or business use but does not pay the eWaste fee at the time of purchase must register and pay the fee to the CDTFA.

How the Revenue is Used

The fee was established to help pay for the safe recycling of video display devices such as computer monitors and televisions, which contain hazardous materials. Revenues from the fee are used to safely recycle the types of products covered by the fee. For more information on the recycling of electronic products and the use of the fee revenue, please visit CalRecycle's website.

How to Use This Guide

The Getting Started section provides key resources related to registration, filing returns, making payments, account maintenance, and other important information you need.

The Industry Topics section contains specific topics important to the covered electronic waste recycling fee.

The Resources section provides links to helpful information, including law and regulation information, publications, special notices, and information on how to contact us.

If You Need Help

If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide or have other related questions, please contact us by telephone or email for assistance. Contact information and hours of operation are available in the Resources section of this guide.

If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us by email.

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The Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Fee (“eWaste” fee) is assessed on the retail purchase or lease of “covered electronic devices” or CEDs, which are video display products that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has determined to be hazardous when discarded. These products include computer monitors, laptop computers, portable DVD players with LCD screens, “bare” cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and devices containing CRTs, televisions with LCD screens, plasma screens, or CRTs.

The fee is variable, depending on screen size. A retailer is allowed to retain 3 percent of the eWaste fee collected as reimbursement for all costs associated with the fee collection.

For additional information regarding CEDs, please refer to the Resources tab (above), and visit the DTSC website.

Register online with us for a covered electronic waste recycling account by selecting Register a New Business Activity.

Who is required to register?

You must register with the CDTFA, file as required, and pay the fee to the CDTFA if you are:

  • A California retailer that sells or leases CEDs or
  • A customer who purchases CEDs for personal or business use but does not pay the eWaste fee at the time of purchase. You must register and pay the fee to the CDTFA. This includes retailers that become consumers by removing CEDs from inventory for purposes other than retail sale or resale.
  • A vendor collecting the eWaste fee from a retailer per PRC 42464(d)(2)

There are three different eWaste fee rates; based on the following screen size categories, measured diagonally:

  • More than 4 inches, but less than 15 inches
  • Greater than or equal to 15 inches, but less than 35 inches
  • Greater than or equal to 35 inches.

The CDTFA is required to collect the eWaste fee pursuant to the Fee Collection Procedures Law (commencing with Section 55001 of the Revenue and Taxation Code).

Visit our Tax Rates – Special Taxes and Fees web page to view current and historical rates for the eWaste fee.

File your return online – CDTFA's online filing service is easy, fast, and free.

You may file your CDTFA501-ER, Electronic Waste Recycling Fee Return, and applicable schedule, and pay the fee online. The eWaste fee return/schedule and any payments are due on or before the last day of the month following the reporting period for which the fees are due. The CDTFA-501-ER, Electronic Waste Recycling Fee Return, is due on either a quarterly or yearly filing basis. Your filing frequency will be determined at the time you register.

You are required to file a return even if you did not have any reportable activity during the reporting period.

Filing a late return and/or late payment may result in a late penalty and/or interest assessment. See Penalty and Interest topic in this section.

Payment

You may file your return and pay your eWaste fees online. Visit our website to make a payment and learn about our various payment options.

If your average monthly fee payment is $20,000 or more, you are required to pay by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). CDTFA will notify you in writing if you are required to pay your fees electronically.

Payments must be submitted by the due date to be considered timely. For an EFT payment to be timely, it must be initiated on or before the filing due date and funds must settle into the CDTFA's bank account on or before the banking day following the due date. Please note, some EFT payments made on the return's due date may need to be initiated before 3:00 p.m. Pacific time to be received timely. For more information regarding EFT payments, please see EFT FAQs.

The penalty for filing a late return and/or late fee payment is ten percent of the fee amount due for the period. Interest also applies to late fee payments.

Log in to your account to submit an online request for an extension to file a return or relief from penalty (including interest due to a disaster).

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How the Fee is Imposed

The fee is due on the retail purchase or lease of a new or refurbished covered electronic device (CED) that has a screen size of more than four inches measured diagonally and has been identified in the regulations adopted by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Refurbished CEDs are devices the manufacturer has tested and returned to a condition that meets factory specifications for the device and have been repackaged and labeled as refurbished.

Currently, the CEDs identified in the regulations include:

  • Televisions that contain cathode ray tubes.
  • Computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes or use liquid crystal displays (LCD).
  • Laptop computers with LCD screens.
  • Bare cathode ray tubes or any other product that contains a cathode ray tube.
  • Televisions containing LCD screens, which includes any device containing an LCD screen greater than four inches measured diagonally (viewable size), that has television tuner capability and can process a broadcast, cable, or satellite transmitted television signal.
  • Plasma televisions.
  • Portable DVD Players with LCD screens.

Manufacturers are required to let retailers know which of their products have been identified as CEDs. New products may be identified by the DTSC and added to the regulations after they have been tested. Any new CEDs identified by DTSC and added to the regulations will become subject to the fee effective July 1st, of the following year in which the new CEDs were added to the regulations. For more information, contact the manufacturer or DTSC.

Tablets

The DTSC has determined that tablet video display devices with LCD screens, such as Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire, are CEDs under the LCD containing laptop computer regulatory category and, therefore, subject to the eWaste fee.

Alternatively, the DTSC has determined that tablets with electronic ink (e-Ink) display are not CEDs, such as an e-Book or e-Reader.

Smartphones

The DTSC does not classify smartphones with LCD screens greater than four inches as CEDs. Alternatively, cell phones, including smartphones with screen sizes greater than four inches, are subject to a statutorily mandated collection and recycling program pursuant to the 2004 Cell Phone Recycling Act, Chapter 8.6 of Part 3 of Division 30 of the Public Resources Code.

Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED)

Currently, a device containing OLED is not a listed CED.

Manufacturer's Notification Letter

On or before April 1st of each year, manufacturers are required to send a notice to all retailers that sell CEDs manufactured by the manufacturer on or before December 31 of the prior year. The notice shall identify the electronic devices that are CEDs subject to the eWaste fee.

The manufacturer is also required to send the following to CDTFA at the email or mailing address shown below:

  1. A copy of every notice sent to all retailers; or,
  2. A sample of the notice plus a list of the retailers to whom the notice was sent

Emailing these notices to the CDTFA, to our mailbox at: BTFD-PCD.eWasteNotification@cdtfa.ca.gov is preferred.

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Special Taxes and Fees
Registration and Licensing Section MIC: 88
Attn: Administrator
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0088

Manufacturer's Report

In addition to the required notification letter, a manufacturer's report is required to be filed with CalRecycle. This report is due on or before July 1st of each year.

For more information on the manufacturers notification letter requirements and the manufacturer's report, please see the CalRecycle website.
or publication Guidance for Manufacturer Reporting for the Electronic Waste Recycling Act.

If you are required to have a California seller's permit or Certificate of Registration – Use Tax, you must register for an eWaste fee account and collect the fee when you sell CEDs to California customers. The CDTFA's online registration system will guide you through the process. See our online guide, Use Tax Collection Requirements Based on Sales into CA Due to the Wayfair Decision, for more information on whether you may be required to register for sales and use tax purposes.

If you are not required to register for an eWaste fee account, you may voluntarily register to collect and pay the fee as a courtesy to your California customers. Upon collecting the fee, you must provide the customer with an invoice or similar document that lists the fee as a separate charge. A copy of the invoice or similar document should be retained by both the seller and customer.

If the out-of-state seller does not have an eWaste fee account, the California customer must pay the fee directly to the CDTFA.

The law requires the retailer to separately state the electronic waste recycling fee on the customer's receipt. The CDTFA does not prescribe any particular format for the invoice, but you must be able to determine if the correct amount was collected and remitted on the number of CEDs sold. Either the CalRecycle or DTSC could later adopt a regulation prescribing the look of the invoice or receipt.

If a customer purchases a number of CEDs on one invoice, you may want to group the products and fees by fee category on your invoice. If you do this, you can list one fee total for each fee category. You can use this method or list each CED and fee amount separately.

As a retailer, you can opt to pay the fee on your customers behalf, but you must note that you have done so on the customer's receipt. The entire fee is due with your fee return. When a retailer pays the fee and indicates that on the receipt, the customer has no liability for the fee.

Do not include the eWaste fee amount in your sales or use tax calculation. However, you must list the amount of the fee on your customer invoice.

Lay-Away Sales

A lay-away is generally a contract to sell at a future date and the eWaste fee would not apply until the full purchase price is paid and the sale is complete.

Internet Sales

Internet sales are treated just like sales from bricks-and-mortar stores or sales by mail or phone. If you sell a CED to a California consumer and your business is in California, or you are required to hold a California seller's permit or are registered, or should be registered, to collect California use tax, you owe the fee. If you are not required to collect the fee, your customer owes it.

Drop Shipments on Behalf of Out of State Companies to California Consumers

If a California retailer is instructed by an out of state retailer to ship a CED directly to a California consumer, the California retailer/drop shipper is obligated to collect the fee. See the definition of retail sale for the purpose of the Sales and Use Tax Law, or for additional information on drop shipments, view Sales and Use Tax Regulation 1706

Configure-to-Order Sales Made Through a Retailer but Shipped by the Manufacturer

A consumer who buys a CED in a retail sale or a transaction subject to use tax owes the fee. The retailer is required to collect the fee and remit it to the CDTFA.

CEDs Removed from Inventory

If you pull a CED from your display stock or inventory and use or donate it, you are considered the consumer. You must report the fee on your return.

Sales or Leases to the Federal Government

Retailers are required to collect the fee on retail purchases or leases by the Federal government. Transactions with the Federal Government are not exempt from the eWaste fee unless otherwise exempt.

CEDs Replaced Under Warranty

Whether a CED is subject to the eWaste fee depends on the type of warranty. In general, the replacement CED does not constitute a retail sale.

Under a factory (mandatory) warranty, no fee would be due if a new or refurbished replacement CED was provided, unless the customer upgrades the CED.

Under an optional warranty, the repairer is considered the consumer of the CED. The repairer should pay the fee on any new or refurbished replacement CEDs provided, either at the time of purchase or by reporting these CEDs as self-consumed on line 2 of their CDTFA-501-ER, Electronic Waste Recycling Fee Return.

Bad Debts

There are no exemptions or credits to be claimed for bad debts related to the eWaste fee.

Leases to California Companies

If a lease is a “continuing sale or purchase,” you must collect the fee from the lessee with the first lease payment.

Lease Renewals

Lease renewals are not subject to the eWaste fee, unless a new or refurbished CED is provided at the time of renewal.

Leasing with Option to Buy at the End of Lease

The customer is purchasing a used CED. The fee does not apply to the sale of used CEDs.

Fee Option for Retailers that Lease CEDs

Under specific conditions, a retailer who leases CEDs to consumers may choose to pay the eWaste fee to the vendor of those CEDs instead of collecting the fee from the consumers/lessees. A vendor is defined as the person making a sale of a covered electronic device (CED) for purposes of resale to a retailer who is the lessor of the CED to a consumer under a lease that is a continuing sale or purchase.

For a retailer to elect to pay on behalf of a consumer, all of the following conditions must be met:

  • The vendor must be registered with the CDTFA to collect and remit the fee
  • The vendor must hold a valid seller's permit for sales and use tax purposes
  • The lessor/retailer must pay the fee to the vendor and the fee must be separately stated on the vendor's invoice to the retailer
  • The retailer provides an express statement on the invoice, contract, or other record given to the lessee/consumer to document the lease/rental, that the fee has been paid on behalf of the lessee/consumer.

If all the above conditions are met, the eWaste fee is a debt owed by the vendor and the retailer is not liable for the fee.

General

The fee does not apply to the sale of a video display device that is any of the following:

  • Used and not refurbished.
  • Part of a motor vehicle, as defined in Vehicle Code section 415, or a component part of a motor vehicle assembled by or for a vehicle manufacturer or franchised dealer. This includes replacement parts for use in a motor vehicle.
  • Is contained within, or a part of a piece of industrial, commercial, or medical equipment, including monitoring or control equipment.
  • Contained within a clothes washer, clothes dryer, refrigerator, refrigerator and freezer, microwave oven, conventional oven or range, dishwasher, room air conditioner, dehumidifier, or air purifier.
  • A sale for resale.
  • Shipped by you to a location outside of California.
  • Contains Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED).
  • A cell phone, including smartphone with screen size greater than four inches.
  • An eReader/eBook or eInk.

You must maintain records to document any sale not subject to the fee.   View our webpage, Publication 103 Sales for Resale, for information on sales for resale. View our webpage, Publication 101 Sales Delivered Outside California, for information on sales of products shipped directly to locations outside California.

When to file a claim for refund

Your filing deadline is the latest of the following dates:

  • Three years after the due date of the return on which you overpaid the eWaste fee
  • Six months after you overpaid the eWaste fee
  • Six months after the date a determination (billing) became final
  • Three years after the CDTFA collected an involuntary payment, such as from a levy or lien

Be sure to file your claim for refund by the applicable deadline. If you don't file on time, CDTFA cannot consider your claim, even if you overpaid the eWaste fee. If you have questions about your deadline to file a refund claim, contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time), except state holidays.

Returns and Customer Refunds

If a customer returned a CED for which you collected the eWaste fee, you would return the fee to the customer. Please refer to Sales and Use Tax Regulation 1655, Returns, Defects and Replacements. The regulation describes the requirements for retailers to handle such transactions. We suggest you handle returns, defects and replacement transactions for this program in the same way.

A credit may be claimed on your CDTFA-501-ER, Electronic Waste Recycling Fee Return, for fees refunded to customers if you have reported and paid the fee on a previous return or, if you gave the refund during the reporting period.

You cannot claim a credit or refund for a CED that is moved out of California after its initial sale in California.

How to file a claim for refund

If you have overpaid the eWaste fee directly to the CDTFA, you can file a claim for refund online by logging in to our online service system using your User ID and Password. Go to your eWaste fee account, and then select More under the I want to… section.

You may also file a claim by using form CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund or Credit or by filing an amended return(s) stating the specific reason(s) for the overpayment. Claims for refund should specify the period for which you are making the claim and the amount of the refund. Additional refund details are on the CDTFA's refund page. You may mail your claims to:

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Special Taxes and Fees
Appeals and Data Analysis Branch (MIC: 33)
P.O. Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0033

Fee Collected on non CED

If you believe you were charged an eWaste fee on a device that is not considered a CED, you may e-mail us or call us at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711).

Records must be retained for at least four years from the time the eWaste fee is due unless the CDTFA authorizes you in writing to destroy them sooner.

Proof of Fee Paid Upon Disposal

Proof that the eWaste fee was paid upon purchase of a CED does not need to be provided upon disposal. The disposal of a CED is a separate transaction from the purchase of a CED. The disposal facility may or may not charge the consumer a fee to dispose a CED, but either way, it will not be dependent upon a consumer having first paid an Electronic Waste Recycling Fee at the time they purchased the CED.

“Cost Free Opportunities” to Dispose of CEDs

The eWaste law states that consumers will be provided with “cost free opportunities” to dispose their computers, monitors, and TVs. However, the CDTFA does not administer this portion of the law. Please contact the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) with your inquiry. They are responsible for administering the recycling programs. Contact information for the CalRecycle is listed below.

Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)
1001 I Street
P.O. Box 4025
Sacramento, CA 95812-4025
1-916-341-6000

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