Oil Spill Response, Prevention, and Administration Fee – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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About the Oil Spill Response, Prevention, and Administration Fees

Owners of crude oil or petroleum products that are received at a marine terminal or refinery in this state must pay the fee. The fee is collected from the owner of the crude oil or petroleum products by the marine terminal operator or refinery operator. The owner cannot pay the fee directly to CDTFA unless it is also the marine terminal operator or refinery operator where the crude oil or petroleum products were received. See "How is the oil spill prevention and administration fee imposed" for further details regarding how the fee is imposed on receipts of crude oil and petroleum products.

When activated, the following owe the oil spill response fee:

  • Owners of petroleum products - received at a marine terminal. The marine terminal operator will collect the fee from the owner at the time the petroleum products are received via vessel from out of the state.
  • Marine terminal operators – crude oil received
  • Refinery operators – crude oil received
  • Pipeline operators – crude oil and petroleum products transported 

See "How is the oil spill response fee imposed " for further details regarding how the fee is imposed.

Additionally, the fee is imposed upon a pipeline operator when petroleum products are transported into the state by means of a pipeline operating across, under, or through marine waters of this state or crude oil is transported by pipeline out of this state.

Unless the fee has been previously collected or paid, it is imposed on the following receipts via any mode of delivery that passes over, across, under or through waters of the state:

Marine Terminal

  • Crude oil from within or outside the state; and
  • Petroleum products from outside the state.

Refinery

  • Crude oil or petroleum products from within or outside the state.

NOTES: There is a rebuttable presumption that all crude oil or petroleum products received at a marine terminal or refinery in this state have passed over, across, under, or through waters of the state.

A marine terminal operator or a refinery operator receiving petroleum products derived from crude oil refined in the state may presume the fee has been previously collected.

When activated, the oil spill response fee is imposed on:

Marine Terminal

  • The owner of petroleum products received at a marine terminal within this state by means of a vessel arriving from a point of origin outside this state; and
  • The marine terminal operator on receipts of crude oil transported from within this state by means of a vessel to a destination outside this state.

Refinery

  • The refinery operator on receipts of crude oil received at a refinery in this state by any method of transport.

Pipeline Operator

  • The pipeline operator for petroleum products transported into the state by means of pipelines operating across, under, or through the waters of this state; and
  • The pipeline operator for crude oil transported out of the state by pipeline.

  • The oil spill response fee provides funds to promptly cover costs of response, containment and cleanup of oil spills into waters of the state.
  • The oil spill prevention and administration fee funds prevention programs in California as well as provides funding for the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to protect wildlife affected by oil.

Registration

  • Marine terminals located in state waters
  • Refineries in this state

  • Marine terminals located in state waters
  • Refineries in this state
  • Pipeline operators that transport crude oil out of the state or petroleum products into the state

Go to our online registration system and select "Register a business activity with BOE." Online registration is convenient, secure, and available 24 hours a day. Visit our Information Needed to Get Started Web page for help to complete your application.

You may also register in person at one of our office locations by using a kiosk. If you have questions, please contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, excluding state holidays.

You may also add a location to an existing account using our online registration system.

If you operate a marine terminal in state waters or a refinery in California, you will need a separate account for each of the oil spill programs.

The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) offers extensive information on state, local, and federal permit requirements. For a listing of its assistance centers, visit their website at business.ca.gov/.

Visit www.calgold.ca.gov for help with permit and licensing requirements for other state, federal, and local authorities (for example, you may need to be registered with the Franchise Tax Board or the Employment Development Department).

Also, see California's Tax Service Center, www.taxes.ca.gov. You may also want to consult a tax professional for assistance on other agencies' requirements.

If you are the owner/operator of a marine terminal, pipeline, or refinery located in California, you are required to register for an oil spill prevention and administration fee account and an oil spill response fee account, as applicable.

If you are the owner of crude oil or petroleum products being delivered to a marine terminal or refinery located in California, the marine terminal or refinery operator will collect the oil spill prevention and administration fee from you for each barrel of product received.

Feepayers should notify CDTFA of any change of address, telephone or fax number to ensure that returns and information from CDTFA are received timely. Use form CDTFA-345-SP, Notice of Business Change, Special Taxes and Fees Department to notify CDTFA of changes.

If you have questions, contact CDTFA Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY: 711) Monday through Friday (except state holidays) 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time), and select the option for Special Taxes and Fees.

Collecting the Fee

Current and historical oil spill prevention and administration fee rates are available at on CDTFA website.

Current and historical oil spill response fee rates are available at on CDTFA website.

The oil spill prevention and administration fee is imposed upon the owner of the crude oil or petroleum products at the time of receipt at a marine terminal or refinery in California. Generally, a retail sale is not associated with the receipt of crude oil or petroleum products at a marine terminal or refinery. When the crude oil or petroleum products are sold, sellers typically incorporate the oil spill prevention and administration fee as a component of their cost of goods sold. The sales and use tax amount is calculated on the total retail sale price. Furthermore, to avoid excess fee reimbursement, feepayers cannot separately state the oil spill prevention and administration fee on a transaction or activity except on a transaction or activity that results in the fee liability.

Yes. Bonded jet fuel received at a marine terminal and then used in international flights is not subject to the oil spill prevention fee or the oil spill response fee. In order to qualify for this exemption, the fuel must enter the state under bond pursuant to federal law and regulation and remain under bond in segregated storage until it is shipped by pipeline to an airport facility where it is used exclusively on international flights.

Although not an exemption, marine terminal operators and refinery operators that receive petroleum products derived from crude oil refined in the state may presume the oil spill prevention and administration fee has been previously collected.

The exemption from the oil spill response fee for crude oil produced by an independent crude oil producer was deleted from the Oil Spill Response, Prevention and Administration Law by Senate Bill 861 (Stats. 2014, Ch. 35).

Filing and Making a Payment

The return and fee are due on the 25th day of the month following the reporting period in question. For example, the return and payment for September are due October 25th.

You are required to file a return for the reporting period even if you did not have any reportable activity during the reporting period. All registered accounts should receive an Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return, – CDTFA-501-OA within 15 days of the due date. If you do not receive a return, please contact our Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY: 711), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Pacific time, excluding state holidays, or download an Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return using the link provided above. Your return must be filed timely even if you do not receive a return from CDTFA.

The return and fee are due on the 25th day of the month following the reporting period in question, however returns are only due during periods when CDTFA is required to collect this fee.

The Oil Spill Response Fund reached the fund maximum in January 1991 and is not currently being collected. Although the oil spill response fee and return are currently not being collected, entities registered under the oil spill response program are required to file an annual information return. The annual return covers a one-year calendar period and must be filed on or before the due date shown on the return. You are required to file a return for the reporting period even if you did not have any reportable activity during the reporting period. All registered accounts should receive an Oil Spill Response Fee Annual Information Return – CDTFA-501-IR. CDTFA will mail a return within 15 days of the due date. If you do not receive a return, please contact our Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY: 711), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Pacific time, excluding state holidays, or download an Oil Spill Response Fee Annual Information Return using the link provided above. Your return must be filed timely even if you do not receive a return from CDTFA.

The oil spill prevention and administration fee program and the oil spill response fee program have different reporting requirements. Currently the reporting requirements for each program are:

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return Reporting

  • All crude oil received at a marine terminal or refinery
  • Petroleum products received at a marine terminal from outside the state
  • Petroleum products received at a refinery from within or outside the state.

Note: A marine terminal operator or a refinery operator receiving petroleum products derived from crude oil refined in the state may presume the fee has been previously collected.

Oil Spill Response Fee Annual Information Return

  • Marine Terminal – Crude oil shipped by vessel to a destination outside this state
  • Marine Terminal – Petroleum received by vessel from outside the state
  • Refinery – Crude received by any mode of transport from inside or outside the state
  • Pipeline – Crude transported out of state by pipeline
  • Pipeline – Petroleum transported into the state by pipeline

Yes, form CDTFA-501-OA, Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Return includes a line to deduct the number of barrels you received for which the fee was previously paid. Documentation to support that fees have already been paid must be retained in your records for four years for all barrels of crude oil claimed.

No deductions are available under the oil spill response fee.

No, the law does not provide for a credit for the export of crude oil or petroleum products on which the fee was paid. The fee is imposed on the receipt of the crude oil or petroleum product, not upon the subsequent sale or shipment.

Yes. Both fuel grade ethanol and biodiesel blends (B99.9 and lower) are included in the definition of petroleum products in RTC section 46021.

There are several options for paying any fee amount due. You can easily and conveniently make your payment online. Select the "Make a Payment" tab on our website. You can also pay by credit card or electronic funds transfer (EFT) at "Make a Payment," or by calling 1-855-292-8931 (for credit card payments). Please note that a service fee of 2.3% of the transaction amount will be charged by the credit card processing vendor. This service fee is retained by the vendor and is not revenue to CDTFA. The minimum fee is $1.00.

You may also submit your payment with your return. Make your check or money order payable to "California Department of Tax and Fee Administration". Always write your account number on your check or money order and make a copy for your records. Payments must be postmarked by the due date to be considered timely. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or state holiday, payments postmarked or received by the next business day will be considered timely.

If your estimated average monthly fee payment will be $20,000 or more, you will be required to pay the fee by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). If you are not required to make fee payments through EFT, you can do so on a voluntary basis. You must submit an Authorization Agreement for Electronic Funds Transfer form CDTFA-555-ST to enroll in EFT.

In addition to paying the oil spill prevention and administration fee by EFT by the due date, you must also file the return by the due date. If no amount is owed, a return must still be submitted timely. A delinquent return, failure to pay by EFT, or a late transfer will result in penalty charges. For more information on the EFT program, visit the CDTFA website and click on the "Make a Payment" tab then select Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Information.

It is important to keep accurate records of your business activities. All records must be preserved at least four years.

If you have overpaid the fee directly to CDTFA, you may 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 the claim is being made and the amount of the refund being claimed. The claim for refund must be in writing, be signed by you, and state the reason(s) why an overpayment was made. Publication 117, Filing a Claim for Refund, details the general requirements for filing a claim for refund and includes form CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund or Credit, and instructions.

Mail 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

Additional refund details are on our website.

If you claim a refund or appeal based on the fact that the transportation mode did NOT pass over, across, under or through waters of the state, that claim or appeal will be forwarded to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for consideration.

You must file a claim for refund by whichever of the following dates that occurs last:

  • Three years from the due date of the return on which you overpaid the fee
  • Six months from the date you overpaid the fee
  • Six months from the date a determination (billing) became final
  • Three years from the date 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 fee.

Pipeline Operators

Pipeline operators are required to file an Oil Spill Response Fee Annual Information Return and if the oil spill response fee is activated, are required to file an Oil Spill Response Fee Return.

If you need to amend the September 2014, Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return, you may get a blank return from CDTFA website. Report your barrels on line 7 column (C) and complete lines 8 through 12 of the return to meet the reporting requirement in effect for September 1, 2014 to September 17, 2014. If you have further questions, contact CDTFA Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY: 711) Monday through Friday (except state holidays) 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific time) and select the option for Special Taxes and Fees. CDTFA will provide the version of the return applicable to periods prior to September 2014.

Marine Terminals & Refineries

If your operations are all under the same legal entity, you only need one account under each of the oil spill prevention and administration fee program and the oil spill response fee program, as applicable. If your terminal, pipeline and/or refinery are under separate business entities, then a separate account is required for each operation. You can register for your account through our online registration system.

Yes. You must separately state the amount of fee collected by you on the invoice provided to the owner of the crude oil or petroleum products. The law does not prohibit a feepayer from including the expense of the fee in the cost of the products it sells. However, you must not separately state a charge for reimbursement of the fee on a transaction or activity that does not result in the fee liability.

Be aware that separately stated charges for reimbursement of the fee by a feepayer will be considered excess fee reimbursement except where the reimbursement is charged on a transaction or activity that results in a fee liability. For more information, view the Special Notice on collecting reimbursement for the oil spill prevention and administration fee.

The owner of the products subject to the fee should retain the documents received from the marine terminal operator or refinery operator as proof that the fee has been paid.