Laws, Regulations and Annotations
Business Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2022
Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Law
Revenue and Taxation Code
Division 2. Other Taxes
Part 2. Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax Law
Chapter 7. Overpayments and Refunds.
Article 1. Refunds on Certain Sales
8101. Refunds on certain sales. The following persons who have paid a tax for motor vehicle fuel, either directly or to the vendor from whom it was purchased, or indirectly by the adding of the amount of the tax to the price of the fuel, shall, except as otherwise provided in this part, be reimbursed and repaid the amount of the tax:
(a) Any person who buys and uses the motor vehicle fuel for purposes other than operating motor vehicles upon the public highways of the state, except vehicles subject to identification under Division 16.5 (commencing with Section 38000) of the Vehicle Code, which are used for recreational purposes or are rented or leased for recreational purposes, and, on and after July 1, 1974, except motor vehicles subject to registration under Division 3 (commencing with Section 4000) of the Vehicle Code while engaged in off-highway recreational use.
(b) Any person who exports the motor vehicle fuel for use outside of this state. Motor vehicle fuel carried from this state in the fuel tank of a motor vehicle or aircraft is not deemed to be exported from this state unless the motor vehicle fuel becomes subject to tax as an "import" under the laws of the destination state.
(c) Any person who sells the motor vehicle fuel to the Armed Forces of the United States for use in ships or aircraft or for use outside this state, under circumstances that would have entitled him or her to an exemption from the payment of the tax under Section 7401 had he or she been the supplier of this fuel.
(d) Any person who buys and uses the motor vehicle fuel in any construction equipment which is exempt from vehicle registration pursuant to the Vehicle Code, while operated within the confines and limits of a construction project.
(e) Any supplier who sells motor vehicle fuel which is sold to any consulate officer or consulate employee under circumstances which would have entitled the supplier to an exemption under paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 7401 if the supplier had sold the motor vehicle fuel directly to the consulate officer or consulate employee.
(f) Any supplier who removes motor vehicle fuel at a rack and pays tax on that removal or who purchases tax-paid motor vehicle fuel outside the bulk transfer/terminal system and then delivers the tax-paid motor vehicle fuel to another approved terminal from which that supplier subsequently removes the tax-paid motor vehicle fuel at the terminal rack, but only to the extent that the supplier can show that tax on the same amount of motor vehicle fuel has been paid more than one time by the same supplier.
(g) Any supplier who purchases tax-paid motor vehicle fuel in the bulk transfer/terminal system and subsequently removes the tax-paid motor vehicle fuel at the terminal rack, but only to the extent that the supplier can show that tax on the same amount of motor vehicle fuel has been paid more than one time by the same supplier. This subdivision applies only to those purchases made on or after January 1, 2002.
(h) Any person who buys and uses tax-paid motor vehicle fuel for the purpose of producing a blended fuel that will be used to operate motor vehicles upon the public highways of the state that is taxed under Part 3 (commencing with Section 8601) of Division 2. To be eligible, a person must show that the applicable California fuel tax has been paid and must submit or have submitted the refund application request on or after January 1, 2011.
History—Stats. 1943, p. 2703, operative July 1, 1943, added (e), authorizing refunds to persons selling motor vehicle fuel to the United States under certain circumstances. Stats. 1947 (First Extra Session 1947), p. 3815, in effect July 10, 1947, deleted former (d), authorizing refunds to the United States under certain circumstances, and (e). Stats. 1949, p. 2463, in effect October 1, 1949, added present (d). Stats. 1953, p. 3655, in effect July 11, 1953, added the clause beginning "unless" in (b). Stats. 1961, p. 1951, in effect September 15, 1961, added the proviso in (a), deleted (c) permitting refund or reimbursement of tax paid by any employee of the United States who buys motor vehicle fuel and uses it exclusively in transportation of rural free delivery mail and special delivery mail, relettered former (d) as (c), and added present (d). Stats. 1965, p. 4602, in effect September 17, 1965, added (e). Stats. 1968, p. 2296, in effect November 13, 1968, added "except as otherwise provided in this part" in the first sentence and reworded (a), deleting the proviso clause which imposed a one mile requirement on off-highway travel. Stats. 1972, Ch. 1158, effective December 7, 1972, added "or whose government does grant such an exemption to such representatives of the United States," to (e); Ch. 1382 and Ch. 1405, operative January 1, 1973, added the language beginning "except vehicles …" to (a) and affected but did not change (e). Stats. 1973, Ch. 1195, effective October 2, 1973, added the language following "leased for recreational purposes." in (a). Stats. 1990, Ch. 1528, in effect January 1, 1991 added "or her" and "or she" in subdivision (c); substituted current subdivision (e) for former subdivision (e) which provided, "Any consulate officer or consulate employee of a foreign government who is not engaged in any private occupation for gain within the State of California, whose government has entered into a treaty with the United States providing for the exemption of such representative from national, state, and municipal taxes, or whose government does grant such an exemption to such representatives of the United States, who uses the motor vehicle fuel in a vehicle registered exempt from fees pursuant to Section 9100 of the Vehicle Code." Stats. 1999, Ch. 865 (SB 1302), in effect January 1, 2000, added subdivision (f). Stats. 2000, Ch. 1053 (AB 2114), operative January 1, 2002, deleted "license" after "who have paid a" in the first paragraph, added "or aircraft" after "fuel tank of a motor vehicle" in the second sentence of subdivision (b), deleted "license" after "from the payment of the" and substituted "supplier" for "distributor" after "Section 7401 had he or she been the" in subdivision (c); substitited "supplier" for "distributor" after "Any", "which would have entitled the" and "Section 7401 if the", and substituted "(4)" for "(6)" after "exemption under paragraph" in subdivision (e); and deleted subdivision (f). Stats. 2001, Ch. 429 (AB 309), operative January 1, 2002, added subdivisions (f) and (g). Stats. 2012, Ch. 493 (SB 1485), in effect September 23, 2012, substituted "Armed Forces" for "armed forces" after "the motor vehicle fuel to the" in subdivision (c), and added subdivision (h).
Note.—Stats. 1961, p. 1952, contained a declaration that the addition of subdivision (d) did not constitute a change in, but was declaratory of, existing law.
Note.—SEC. 2 of Stats. 2012, Ch. 493 (SB 1485), in effect September 23, 2012, states, "The Legislature finds and declares that this act serves the following public purposes:
a) Correcting the inequality to persons that pay duplicative taxes on fuel.
(b) Offsetting the costs incurred by persons that have paid duplicative taxes by authorizing tax refunds for refund application requests submitted on or after January 1, 2011.
(c) Incentivizing the distribution of alternative, renewable fuels to the public."
Non-highway use.—When rollers and tractors are being used in the repair and construction of highways closed to the public, the public highways are not being "operated upon" in the sense intended by the law and therefore the tax is refundable as respects motor fuel used by such rollers and tractors while engaged in such work. Oswald v. Johnson, (1930) 210 Cal. 321.
Construction.—The person who "uses" motor vehicle fuel includes the lessor of trucks for agricultural purposes, where the lessor purchased the fuel and paid the tax to the vendor of the fuel. DeForest v. Flournoy, (1969) 272 Cal.App.2d 258.