Marine Invasive Species Fee (formerly Ballast Water Management Fee) FAQs

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General Questions

The marine invasive species fee (formerly known as the ballast water management fee) was established in 1999 to address the introduction and spread of foreign aquatic species into California waters. (Public Resource Code 71200 et seq.)

The fee is set by the State Lands Commission. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is responsible for the collection of the fee. CDTFA works with the California Marine Exchanges (CME) to identify daily arrivals of vessels into California ports.

The funds are used to support the marine invasive species program established to prevent the introduction and spread of foreign non-indigenous aquatic species into the state waters of California. (PRC 71200 et seq.)

Owners or operators of vessels that arrive at any California port from a port or place outside of California owe the marine invasive species fee. (PRC 71200 et seq.)

The fee is charged by vessel per voyage. The fee rate is set by the State Lands Commission. (PRC 71200 et seq and may be adjusted at certain times for inflation.)

Registration

Owners or operators of vessels, with qualifying voyages, as identified by the California Marine Exchanges (CME) as being subject to the fee are registered and issued an account number with CDTFA based on information from the CME. These owners or operators will be issued an account number and receive, via US mail, a notice of determination (billing) from CDTFA. There is no online registration available with CDTFA.

The CDTFA registers accounts, automatically, based on the vessel arrival information obtained from the CME. There is no online registration available with CDTFA.

If your vessel makes regular voyages subject to the fee, you may request to file monthly fee returns rather than receiving notices of determination (billings) for each qualifying voyage. For additional information, contact our 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.

If you would like more information on the Marine Invasive Species Program, visit the State Lands Commission website or contact them by telephone at (916) 574-1900.

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 their assistance centers, visit their website at www.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).

Visit California's Tax Service Center at www.taxes.ca.gov for additional tax information.

You may also want to consult with a tax professional for assistance on other agency requirements.

Feepayers should notify the CDTFA of any change of business ownership, email address, mailing address or location, phone, or fax number to ensure that returns and information about the fee are received timely. Use form CDTFA-345-SP, Notice of Business Change, Property and Special Taxes, to notify CDTFA of changes.

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

Collecting the Marine Invasive Species Fee

The current and historical rates can be viewed on CDTFA's website. It is important to keep your account information current with CDTFA in order to be notified of rate changes.

Yes. The fee does not apply to the following (PRC 71200 et seq.):

  • A vessel of the armed forces, as defined in paragraph (14) of subsection (a) of Section 1322 of Title 33 of the United States Code that is subject to the "Uniform National Discharge Standards for Vessels of the Armed Forces" pursuant to subsection (n) of Section 1322 of Title 33 of the United States Code.
  • A vessel in innocent passage, which is a foreign vessel merely traversing the territorial sea of the United States and not entering or departing a United States port, or not navigating the internal waters of the United States, and that does not discharge ballast water into the waters of the state, or into waters that may impact waters of the state.

(Ballast water is defined as water and suspended matter taken on board a vessel to control or maintain trim, draft, stability, or stresses of the vessel, without regard to the manner in which it is carried. PRC 71200 et seq.)

Filing and Making a Payment

The marine invasive species fee is due and payable to the CDTFA 30 days from the date of the notice of determination (billing) or assessment. If you make regular voyages that are subject to the fee, you may request to file monthly fee returns (Marine Invasive Species Fee Return, CDTFA-501-BWF) rather than receiving notices of determination (billings) for each qualifying voyage. Monthly returns must be filed, and fees paid, on or before the last day of the calendar month following the end of the return reporting period.

Returns and payments must be postmarked by the due date to be considered timely. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or state holiday, returns and payments postmarked or received by the next business day will be considered timely.

For further information about qualifying for filing of monthly fee returns or other questions regarding the fee, please contact us at: Special Taxes and Fees, MIC: 88, California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, PO Box 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279-0088, or call our 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. You can also Email Your Tax Questions.

Several options are available to make a payment including: online directly from your bank, credit card, check, or money order. Please note: If you are making a payment via credit card, a vendor charge of 2.3 percent of the transaction amount will be added as a service fee. This service fee is retained by the vendor and is not revenue to CDTFA. The minimum service fee is $1.00.

Checks and money orders should be made payable to "California Department of Tax and Fee Administration." Always write your account number and notice id 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.

Records must be retained for at least four years from the time the fee is due unless CDTFA authorizes you in writing to destroy them sooner. For additional information regarding record retention, please view Regulation 4901.

If you have overpaid the marine invasive species fee, you may file a claim for refund 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 must be in writing and should specify the period for which you are making the claim and the amount of the claim. Additional refund details can be found at https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/taxes-and-fees/refund.htm.

Your claim for refund may be mailed or transmitted electronically to CDTFA at the following address, email, or Fax.

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

Email: BTFD-ADAB.IncomingAppeals@cdtfa.ca.gov
Fax: (916) 323-9497

Whichever of the following dates occurs last is your filing deadline:

  • Three years after the due date of the period/return on which you overpaid the fee
  • Six months after you overpaid the fee
  • Six months after the date a determination (billing) became final
  • Three years after 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, CDTFA cannot consider your claim, even if you overpaid the fee. If you have questions about your deadline to file a refund claim, contact our Customer Service Center at 1-800-400-7115. 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.