Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee

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.

Understanding the fee issues and registration requirements specific to the underground storage tank maintenance fee program can be time-consuming and complicated. It is important that you get the information you need in a timely and understandable way, which will help you focus on starting and growing your business.

This guide is provided to help you better understand the underground storage tank maintenance fee.

What is the Fee

The CDTFA, in cooperation with the State Water Resources Control Board administers this program to provide revenue for the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund in the General Fund. The fee is collected from the owner of an underground storage tank based on the number of gallons of petroleum placed in the tank during the reporting period.

How the Revenue is Used

The underground storage tank maintenance fee is used to provide revenue for the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund in the General Fund. The primary purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to the owners and operators of underground storage tanks to remediate conditions caused by leaks, reimburse for third party damage and liability, and assist in meeting federal financial responsibility requirements.

How to Use This Guide

Each section of this guide contains important information relevant to your underground storage tank fees.

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

The Industry Topics section contains specific topics important to the underground storage tank maintenance fee program.

The Resources section provides links to additional information and resources.

If You Need Help

See the How to Contact Us page for contact information. If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us via email.

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The underground storage tank maintenance fee is collected from the owner of an underground storage tank based on the number of gallons of petroleum placed in the tank during the reporting period. The CDTFA, in cooperation with the State Water Resources Control Board administers this program to provide revenue for the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund in the General Fund.

If you own an underground storage tank, you must register with the CDTFA. You will be required to file underground storage tank maintenance fee returns and pay any fee amounts due for the reporting period.

Unless there is evidence to support otherwise, the CDTFA will generally presume that the owner of the real property where the tank is located is also the owner of the underground storage tank.

An owner or operator may be an individual, a company, or a city, county, or district or any of their agencies or departments. The state and federal governments are not defined as owners or operators under the Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee Law.

The owner of the tank is required to pay the underground storage tank maintenance fee. If you operate a storage tank but do not own it, you are not liable for the fee. An operator is defined as the person who controls, or is responsible for, the daily operation of the tank. Generally, if you lease an underground storage tank, you are considered an operator, not an owner and are, therefore, not liable for the fee. However, as an operator, you may have an agreement with the owner to report and pay the fee.

An owner or operator can be an individual, a company, or a city, county, or district or any of their agencies or departments. The state and federal governments are not defined as owners or operators under the Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee Law.

Unless there is evidence to support otherwise, the CDTFA will generally presume that the owner of the real property where the tank is located is also the owner of the underground storage tank.

To register for your underground storage tank maintenance fee account, a seller's permit, any other permit, license (cigarette, tobacco, or fuel), or account with the CDTFA, visit our online registration system.

If you have questions, please contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS:711), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00p.m., (Pacific time), except state holidays.

Be sure to notify us if you sell or remove any underground storage tanks you own. Login with your username and password to update your account information including, but not limited to, selling your business, changing your mailing address, email address, or telephone number, or closing your business. If you prefer, you may use form CDTFA-345-SP, Notice of Business Change, Special Taxes and Fees Accounts, to notify CDTFA of changes. It is important to notify us so we can update our records to ensure you receive information, email reminders to electronically file, and other updates timely.

You may also contact the Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS: 711) and select the option for Special Taxes and Fees or send a message through our website at Email Your Tax Questions.

You will receive a closure report from your local agency and/or a certificate of destruction when an underground storage tank is destroyed. You must send a copy of either document to the CDTFA with a letter requesting closure of your account to:

California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
Compliance Branch (MIC: 88)
P O Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0088

Please Note: You will need to file zero returns until you receive a letter confirming that we have closed your account.

Visit Tax Rates – Special Taxes and Fees to view current and historical underground storage tank maintenance fee rates.

File a Return Online – CDTFA's online filing service is easy, fast, and free!

You may file your return CDTFA-501-TK, Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee Return along with the CDTFA-501-TKX, Summary By Location – Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee and pay the fee online. The CDTFA 501-TKX – Summary by Location is a new schedule required to report for each location.

The return and fee are due on the 25th day of the month following the close of the reporting period (for example, October 25th for the period of July through September for a quarterly filer). The CDTFA will determine, and notify you, at the time of registration if you are required to file monthly, quarterly or yearly. You are required to file a return even if you did not have any reportable activity during the reporting period.

If you have any questions, you may contact the Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-800-400-7115 (CRS: 711), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Pacific time, excluding state holidays.

If you prefer, you may designate the tank operator to file returns and pay the fee on your behalf. Log in to your account on the CDTFA website to download Form 1213. You may also upload the completed, notarized form to your account. Operators must also Log in on the CDTFA website and request access to the owners account as a third party delegate.

When filing online, you are able to file and pay your underground storage tank maintenance fee in one transaction. You may also visit our website to conveniently make a payment or learn about our various payment options.

Feepayers with an estimated average monthly fee liability of $20,000 or more are required to pay amounts due by electronic funds transfer (EFT). The 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 payment is ten percent of the amount of fee due. Late filers must include payment for the penalty and interest with their fee return.

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For purposes of this fee, an underground storage tank is defined as any tank, or a combination of tanks, used to store petroleum products and located substantially or totally beneath the surface of the ground. The definition also applies to pipes that are connected to such tanks.

Petroleum products that are subject to the fee include, but are not limited to:

  • Gasoline and additives
  • Aviation gasoline and additives
  • Jet fuel and additives
  • Diesel fuel and additives (includes dyed diesel fuel)
  • Biodiesel and biodiesel blends
  • Denatured ethanol or ethanol blended with gasoline
  • Lubrication oils
  • Heating and lighting oils
  • Solvents

The fee does not apply to motor fuel or heating oil used for noncommercial purposes and placed in tanks having a capacity of 1,100 gallons or less and located on a farm or residence.

Petroleum is defined as crude oil, or any fractionation thereof, which is liquid at standard conditions of temperature and pressure.

The underground storage tank maintenance fee is owed by the owner of an underground storage tank, containing petroleum, for which a permit is required pursuant to Section 25284 of the Health and Safety Code.

Generally, if you operate an underground storage tank but do not own it, you are not liable for the fee. An operator is defined as the person who controls, or is responsible for, the daily operation of the tank. Generally, if you lease an underground storage tank, you are considered an operator, not an owner. Therefore, you are not liable for the fee. However, you may have an agreement with the owner to report and pay the fee.

An owner or an operator can be an individual, a company, city, county, district, or any of their agencies or departments. The state and federal governments are not defined as owners or operators under the Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee Law.

Please note: If you are not the owner of a tank you operate and are not reporting and paying the fee on behalf of the owner, please give a copy of publication 88, Underground Storage Tank Fee to the owner.

The underground storage tank maintenance fee is assessed on each gallon of petroleum product placed into an underground storage tank.

The fee is due each time a petroleum product is placed into an underground storage tank, regardless of whether the fee was previously assessed. Below are examples of when the fee is due more than once:

  • Petroleum products are removed from an underground storage tank and placed into another underground storage tank; or
  • Petroleum products are withdrawn and placed back into the same tank in which they were previously stored.

The underground storage tank maintenance fee is assessed on each gallon of petroleum products placed into an underground storage tank and is imposed upon the owner of the underground storage tank. Generally, a retail sale is not associated with the receipt of petroleum products into an underground storage tank. Sellers typically incorporate the underground storage tank fee reimbursement as a component of their Cost of Goods Sold. The sales and use tax amount is calculated on the total retail sale price.

The fee does not apply to:

  • The State of California, or any agency or department thereof.
    Note: County and Local Governments are not exempt.
  • The United States, its unincorporated agencies, or instrumentalities.
  • Any incorporated agency or instrumentality of the United States wholly owned by the United States or by a corporation wholly owned by the United States.
  • Banks or other financial institutions.
  • Insurance companies.
  • Any person of Native American descent who is entitled to receive services as an Native American from the United States Department of the Interior when the underground storage tank is located upon an Indian reservation, including rancherias, or any land held by the United States in trust for any Indian tribe or individual Indian.
  • A tank located on a farm or at a residence with a capacity of 1,100 gallons or less, that stores home heating oil, for use on the premises where stored.
  • A tank with a capacity of 1,100 gallons or less which is located on a farm and stores diesel fuel used primarily for agricultural purposes and not for resale.

You should keep all required records in support of your fee return for a minimum of four years after the return due date. For further information, see Underground Storage Tank Maintenance Fee Regulation 1271, Records.

The Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund application process, administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), requires claimants to provide documentation that all underground storage tank maintenance fees (for the tanks that are the subject of the claim) due on or after January 1, 1991, have been paid to the CDTFA. For fee verification purposes, you may want to maintain complete records for the SWRCB longer than the four years required by the CDTFA. For more information on the cleanup fund, visit the SWRCB website.

If you have overpaid the fee directly to the CDTFA, you may file a claim for refund using our online services system, by completing form, CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund of Credit, or by filing an amended return(s). Claims for refund should state the specific reason(s) for the overpayment, 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, 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 of Credit with instructions on how to complete the form. You may mail your claim to:

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

Additional refund details can be found on our website.

You must file a claim for refund by whichever of these 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 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 do not file on time, the CDTFA cannot consider your claim, even if you overpaid the fee.

Laws & Regulations

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Industry Guides

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Contact Us

If you have questions regarding this program or need to register with the CDTFA, please contact Special Taxes and Fees at the following address or telephone number:

Special Taxes and Fees, MIC: 88
California Department of Tax and Fee Administration
PO Box 942879
Sacramento, CA 94279-0088

Telephone 1-800-400-7115
(CRS: 711)

Email Your Tax Questions