Fee Guide for Oil Spill Response, Prevention, and Administration Fees

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 help fund state and local services and programs that are important to you and your community.

This guide will help you better understand the oil spill response, prevention, and administration fees and registration obligations for refineries and marine terminals. It provides important information relevant to your business such as registration and collection requirements of the spill response, prevention, and administration fees.

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee

The Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee funds prevention programs in California and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to protect wildlife affected by oil.

Terminal and refinery operators are required to collect the oil spill prevention and administration fee from the owner of the crude oil or petroleum products for each barrel received and remit payment to the CDTFA.

Oil Spill Response Fee

The oil spill response fee provides funds to cover costs of response, containment, and cleanup of oil spills into waters of the state.

The oil spill response fee is currently not imposed; however, there is an annual reporting requirement.

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 and Resources sections provide links to helpful information, including statutory and regulatory information, special notices, and access to assistance from our Customer Service Representatives.

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 fee is imposed on owners of crude oil or petroleum products and collected by a marine terminal operator or refinery operator. The owner cannot pay the fee directly to the CDTFA unless it is also the marine terminal operator or refinery operator where the crude oil or petroleum products were received.

Unless the fee has been previously collected or paid, it is imposed on the following receipts:

Marine Terminal Operator – A fee is imposed for each barrel of crude oil received by a marine terminal operator from within or outside the state and for every barrel of petroleum products received from outside the state, by any mode of delivery that passed over, across, under, or through waters of the state.

Refinery Operator – A fee is imposed for each barrel of crude oil or petroleum products received by a refinery operator by any mode of delivery that passed over, across, under or through waters of the state.

NOTE: 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. The marine terminal operator will collect the fee from the owner at the time the petroleum products are received.
  • The marine terminal operator for each barrel of crude oil transported from within this state by means of a vessel to a destination outside this state.

Refinery Operator

  • The refinery operator for each barrel 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.
  • The pipeline operator for crude oil transported out of the state by pipeline.

Register online with us for the oil spill fees accounts applicable to your type of business by selecting Register a New Business Activity. Online registration is the convenient way to register and is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee

The following entities are required to register with the CDTFA:

  • Marine terminal operators located in state waters
  • Refinery operators in this state

Oil Spill Response Fee

The following entities are required to register with the CDTFA:

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

Visit our Tax Rates – Special Taxes and Fees page to view current and historical rates for the oil spill response, prevention, and administration fees.

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

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee

You may file your return CDTFA-501-OA, Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return, and pay the fee online. The return and fee are due on the 25th day of the calendar month following the reporting period. For example, a return and payment for the reporting period of April 2019 would be due on or before May 25, 2019. 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 penalty and/or interest. See the Penalty and Interest section below.

Oil Spill Response 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 Oil Spill Response Fee Annual Information Return. You may file online the annual return, which covers a one-year calendar period, on or before January 25th.

When the fee is active, the return and fee are due on the 25th day of the calendar month following the reporting period. At that time, you are required to file a return even if you did not have any reportable activity during the reporting period. Filing a late return may result in a late penalty fee. See Penalty and Interest topic in this section.

Payment

You may file and pay your oil spill fees in one transaction when you file 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.

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.

You may log into your account to submit an online request for an extension to file a return or relief from penalty (including interest due to a disaster).

Login with your username and password to update your account information such as changes to your business ownership, email address, mailing address, location address, and phone or fax number. If you prefer, you may use form CDTFA-345-SP, Notice of Business Change Special Taxes and Fees Accounts, and mail it to the address provided in the form. It is important to notify us so we can update our records to ensure you receive information and email reminders to electronically file timely.

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Barrel
42 gallons of crude oil or petroleum products.
Crude Oil
Petroleum in an unrefined or natural state, including condensate and natural gasoline, and substances that enhance, cut, thin, or reduce viscosity.
Petroleum products
Any liquid hydrocarbon at atmospheric temperature and pressure that is the product of the fractionation, distillation, or other refining or processing of crude oil and that is used as, useable as, or may be refined as, a fuel or fuel blendstock, including, but not limited to, gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation fuel, bunker fuel, and alcohol fuels containing petroleum products.
Marine Terminal
Any facility used for transferring crude oil or petroleum products to or from tankers or barges. A marine terminal includes all piping not integrally connected to a tank facility as defined in the Health and Safety Code ยง 25270.2, subdivision (n).
Refinery
A facility that refines crude oil, including condensate and natural gasoline, into petroleum products, lubricating oils, coke, or asphalt.
State waters or waters of the state
Any surface water, including saline waters, marine waters, and freshwaters, within the boundaries of the state but does not include groundwater.

The Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee program and the Oil Spill Response Fee program have different reporting requirements:

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 and 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 oil received by any mode of transportation from inside or outside the state
  • Pipeline – Crude oil transported out of state by pipeline
  • Pipeline – Petroleum transported into the state by pipeline

For the Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee, the number of barrels you received for which the fee was previously paid can be deducted in your return Form CDTFA-501-OA, Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return.

Documentation to support fees that have already been paid must be retained in your records for four years for all barrels of crude oil claimed.

There are no deductions available under the Oil Spill Prevention Fee.

Bonded jet fuel received at a marine terminal and then used in international flights is not subject to the oil spill prevention and administration fee or the oil spill response fee. To qualify for this exclusion, 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.

The amount collected for the oil spill fee(s) by the fee collector must be separately stated on the invoice provided to the owner of the crude oil or petroleum products. Only marine terminal operators and pipeline operators that are not the owners of the product being received or transported are permitted to collect oil spill fee reimbursement from the owners 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. Similarly, sellers commonly include such expenses as processing, transportation, and marketing expenses in the cost of these products; however, the fee must not be separately stated as a charge for reimbursement on a transaction or activity that does not result in a fee liability. A separately stated charge for reimbursement of a fee on a transaction or activity that does not result in a fee liability is considered excess fee reimbursement.

Excess fee reimbursement is defined as any amount that is charged by a feepayer on an activity or transaction that does not result in an oil spill fee liability, or is in excess of the fee due and represented as reimbursement of the oil spill fee. Excess fee reimbursement must be paid to the CDTFA, unless refunded by the feepayer to its customer.

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.

Fuel grade ethanol and biodiesel blends (B99.9 and lower) are included in the definition of petroleum products provided in Revenue and Taxation Code (RTC) section 46021 and Oil Spill Prevention and Response Fees Regulation 2240 therefore, subject to the Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee.

Laws and Regulations

Special Notices

Related Websites

Other Helpful Resources

  • Contact Us – A listing of CDTFA contacts for your questions and concerns.
  • Sign Up for CDTFA Updates – Subscribe to our email lists and receive the latest news, newsletters, tax and fee updates, public meeting agendas, and other announcements.
  • Videos and How-To Guides – These resources will help you avoid common mistakes, file your tax returns online, and more.
  • Online Services – Learn about the online services CDTFA offers.
  • Office Locations and Addresses – A comprehensive listing of all CDTFA offices and contact information.
  • Get It In Writing! – Tax and fee laws can be complex, and you are encouraged to put your tax questions in writing. You may send your request to: Special Taxes and Fees, MIC:31, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-0031.
  • Taxpayers' Rights Advocate (TRA) – The TRA Office helps taxpayers when they are unable to resolve a matter through normal channels, such as speaking to a supervisor, or when there are apparent rights violations.
  • GO-Biz – The Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development offers extensive information on state, local, and federal permit requirements. For a listing of their assistance centers, visit their website.
  • CalGold – Provides help with permit and licensing requirements on other state, federal, and local authorities. For example, you may need to register with the Franchise Tax Board or the Employment Development Department. You may also want to consult with a tax professional or your local city and county authorities for assistance regarding other agencies' requirements or restrictions.
  • California's Tax Service Center – A one-stop tax help and resource website that guides taxpayers to forms and services they need.