Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee & Oil Spill Response Fee Guide

New Information – Assembly Bill 148 (Stats. 2021, ch. 115) was signed by the Governor on July 22, 2021 and makes changes to the Oil Spill Prevention and Administration (OSPA) Fee Program, including, among other things:

Effective January 1, 2022, the OSPA Fee Program will expand to include all renewable fuels. This guide has been updated to reflect these changes, and it's important to remember that that OSPA fee is not imposed on renewable fuel until January 1, 2022.

A definition of renewable fuel and a revision to the definition of petroleum products was effective July 22, 2021. See the Industry Topics section for more information.

Helping your business succeed is important to us. 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 prevention and administration fee and the oil spill response fee including registration, collection, and reporting requirements for both the fees.

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The Oil Spill Prevention And Administration (OSPA) Fee Law imposes the OSPA fee on owners of crude oil, petroleum products and, beginning January 1, 2022, renewable fuel. Marine terminal operators, refinery operators and, beginning January 1, 2022, renewable fuel receiving facility operators, and renewable fuel production facility operators are responsible for collecting the OSPA fee from the owner.

The owner cannot pay the fee directly to us unless they are also the operator where the crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel were received or shipped.

The chart below shows the application of the OSPA fee by facility operator and product type.

Application of Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee
Received at a Marine Terminal Received at a Refinery Received at a Renewable Fuel Receiving Facility (RFRF) (Effective January 1, 2022) Shipped from a Renewable Fuel Production Facility (RFPF) (Effective January 1, 2022)
Crude Oil From within or outside the state From within or outside the state N/A N/A
Petroleum Products From outside the state From within or outside the state N/A N/A
Renewable Fuel
(Starting January 1, 2022)
From within or outside the state From within or outside the state From outside the state Shipped from a RFPF

Note: There is a rebuttable presumption that all crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel received at a marine terminal, refinery, or renewable fuel receiving facility, or shipped from a renewable fuel production facility in California, has passed over, across, under, or through waters of the state.

A marine terminal operator, refinery operator, or renewable fuel production facility operator receiving petroleum products derived from crude oil refined in California may presume the fee has been previously collected.

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

The following chart shows the application of the oil spill response fee, when it is activated:

Application of Oil Spill Response Fee – When activated
Received at Marine Terminal Received at Refinery Pipeline Operator
Crude Oil From within this state to a destination outside this state From within or outside the state Transported out of the state by pipeline
Petroleum Products From outside the state N/A Transported into the state by pipeline
Renewable Fuels N/A N/A N/A

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee

The OSPA fee provides funds for prevention programs in California and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network to protect wildlife affected by oil.

Oil Spill Response Fee

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

The Getting Started section provides information about accounts required, registering, filing returns, making payments, account maintenance, and other important information you may need.

The Industry Topics and Resources sections provide helpful information, resources and references.

If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide or with topics not included, please contact us by telephone or email for assistance. For contact information and hours of operation, please visit our How to Contact Us webpage.

If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us by email.

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Register online with us for Oil Spill Prevention and Administration (OSPA) fee and Oil Spill Response (OSR) fee accounts applicable to your type of business. Online registration is the convenient way to register and is available 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Beginning November 1, 2021, renewable fuel production facility operators and renewable fuel receiving facility operators will be able to register online. Existing OSPA feepayers may add new site(s) for each facility type (as defined in Revenue and Taxation Code section 46024) to their account when filing their OSPA fee return starting in November 2021.

The facility types listed below must register for the OSPA and/or OSR fee programs as shown below:

Facility Type Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Oil Spill Response Fee
Marine terminal located in waters of the state Yes Yes
Refineries in California Yes Yes
Renewable fuel receiving facility Yes No
Renewable fuel production facility Yes No
Pipeline operator transporting crude oil out of California No Yes
Pipeline operator transporting petroleum products into California No Yes

If you have multiple facility operations under the same legal entity, you only need one account under the OSPA Fee Program and the OSR Program, as applicable. If you are a marine terminal operator or a refinery operator, you will need both an OSPA fee account and an OSR fee account.

You may need additional accounts, permits, or licenses issued by us, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Seller's permit
  • Motor vehicle fuel supplier license
  • Diesel fuel supplier license
  • Terminal operator license
  • Underground storage tank account

Visit our Tax Rates – Special Taxes and Fees page to view current and historical rates for the OSPA and OSR fees.

The OSPA fee rate is set by statute (Government Code section 8670.40). Beginning July 1, 2023, and every July thereafter, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will adjust the OSPA fee rate based on changes in the California Consumer Price Index.

File your return online – Our online filing service is easy, fast, and free.

Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee

You must use our Online Services to file your CDTFA-501-OA, Oil Spill Prevention and Administration Fee Return and pay the fee. 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 2022 would be due on or before May 25, 2022. 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

Feepayers registered under the OSR program are required to file CDTFA-501-IR, Oil Spill Response Fee Annual Information Return annually. You may use our Online Services to file the return, which covers a one-year calendar period and is due on or before the following January 25th. The OSR Fund reached the fund maximum in January 1991 and the OSR fee is not currently being collected.

When the fee is active, a monthly 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). We 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 our 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).

Log in with your username and password to update your account information. You may update your email address, mailing address, location address, telephone number, and close your account. 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, email reminders to file online, and other updates timely.

Records required to be retained must be kept for at least four years from the time the tax is due unless we authorize in writing their destruction sooner.

If you have overpaid the fee directly to us, you may file your refund claim using our online services. Log in using your username and password and select the account for which you want to request a refund. Select the More link under the I Want To section. Then select the Submit a Claim for Refund link and follow the prompts.

You may also file a refund claim by completing and mailing form, CDTFA-101, Claim for Refund or Credit, or file an amended return stating the specific reason(s) for the overpayment. Additional details about filing a claim for refund can be found in publication 117, Filing a Claim for Refund.

You may mail your claim to:

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

Additional refund details can be found on our Special Taxes and Fees Refund page.

Claims for refund based on the grounds that the crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel did not pass over, across, under, or through waters of the state will be forwarded to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response).

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Barrel
42 gallons of crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel.
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 renewable fuels containing more than five percent petroleum products.

As of July 22, 2021, the definition of petroleum products is changed to remove reference to alcohol fuels that contain petroleum products and includes renewable fuels containing more than five percent petroleum products.
Renewable fuel
Any liquid produced from nonpetroleum renewable resources that is used or useable as a fuel, or such liquid that may be blended with other types of fuels. Renewable fuel includes fuels that may contain up to five percent (5%) petroleum products. An example of renewable fuel is denatured ethanol.
Marine Terminal
Any facility used for transferring crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel 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 § 25270.2, subdivision (n).
Refinery
A facility that refines crude oil, including condensate and natural gasoline, into petroleum products, lubricating oils, coke, or asphalt and that may blend nonpetroleum products with refined products either in the refinery or as the petroleum products are shipped from the refinery or from adjacent storage facilities.
Renewable Fuel Production Facility
A facility that produces renewable fuel for blending or shipment.
Renewable Fuel Receiving Facility
A facility that is the first point of receipt in California for renewable fuel that originated from outside California, that receives renewable fuel delivered by railroad car, tank truck, pipeline, or vessel. A renewable fuel receiving facility may include, but is not limited to, a refinery, a marine terminal, a railroad tank car to tank truck transfer facility, or other storage and distribution facility.
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.

A marine terminal operator, a refinery operator, or a renewable fuel production facility operator receiving petroleum products derived from crude oil refined in California or receiving renewable fuel produced in California, may presume the fee has been previously collected.

For the OSPA fee, the number of barrels you received with the fee already paid can be deducted on your return 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 crude oil barrels claimed as fee-paid.

There are no deductions available under the OSR fee.

Bonded jet fuel received at a marine terminal and then used in international flights is not subject to the OSPA fee or the OSR fee. To qualify for this exclusion, the fuel must enter California 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.

On any transaction or activity that would result in an oil spill fee liability, you must separately state the fee amount you collect on the invoice provided to the owner of the crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel. You must also separately state the fee amount you collect on the shipping documents provided to another marine terminal operator, refinery operator, renewable fuel production facility operator, or renewable fuel receiving facility operator on any transaction or activity that would result in an oil spill fee liability.

Only feepayers (marine terminal operators, refinery operators, renewable fuel production facility operators, and renewable fuel receiving facility operators) are permitted to collect oil spill fee reimbursement from the owners of the crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel on applicable transactions.

The law does not prohibit a feepayer from including the fee expense in the costs for services provided or in the products it sells. Similarly, sellers commonly include such expenses as processing, transportation, and marketing expenses in their products' cost. 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 fee reimbursement charge 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 more than the fee due and represented as an oil spill fee reimbursement. Excess fee reimbursement must be paid to us, unless refunded by the feepayer to their customer.

The law does not provide for a credit for the export of crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel on which the fee was paid. The fee is imposed on the receipt of the crude oil, petroleum products, or renewable fuel, or the shipment of renewable fuel from a renewable fuel production facility, not upon the subsequent sale or shipment.

Fuel grade ethanol denatured with five percent (5%) or less petroleum products and biodiesel blends (B95 and lower) are included in the definition of renewable fuel effective July 22, 2021 provided in Revenue and Taxation Code (RTC) section 46024. Renewable fuel blends that contain more than five percent (5%) petroleum products are considered petroleum products (RTC 46021). Fuel grade ethanol was considered a petroleum product according to Regulation 2240, Petroleum Products, until July 22, 2021, and therefore, subject to the OSPA fee until July 22, 2021.

Although the definition of renewable fuel became effective July 22, 2021, renewable fuel received from July 22, 2021, through December 31, 2021 is not subject to the OSPA fee. Renewable fuel is subject to the OSPA fee starting January 1, 2022.

Marine terminal operators or refinery operators should not charge or collect the OSPA fee on renewable fuel (as defined above) for this period. If you did collect the OSPA fee from your customer on renewable fuel for this period and paid it to us, you may file a claim for refund or amend your OSPA fee return online after you refund the excess fee back to your customer.

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