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Welcome to the State of California

Gas Tax Refund General FAQ

What is the purpose of the gasoline tax refund program?

The State of California imposes a motor vehicle fuel tax per gallon purchased. The law allows for a refund of the gasoline tax paid if the fuel is used for certain “off-highway” purposes.  The State Controller's Office (SCO) processes gasoline tax refund claims.

What is the amount of gasoline tax that may be refunded?

Due to changes in the governing statutes, claims for gasoline purchased prior to July 1st, 2010 will be refunded at a rate of $0.18 cents per gallon, claims for gasoline purchased on or after July 1st, 2010 but prior to July 1st 2011 will be refunded at a rate of $0.353 cents per gallon, claims for gasoline purchased on or after July 1st, 2011 but prior to July 1st 2012 will be refunded at a rate of $0.357 cents per gallon, and claims for gasoline purchased on or after July 1st, 2012 but prior to July 1st 2013 will be refunded at a rate of $0.36 cents per gallon.

Effective July 1, 2013 the excise tax rate for motor vehicle fuel will increase from 36 cents ($0.36) to 39.5 cents ($0.395) per gallon. Additionally, each new fiscal year the Board of Equalization may adjust the rate of the motor vehicle fuel excise tax.

Para-transit claims will continue to be refunded at a rate of $0.06 cents per gallon.

What types of fuel are considered "gasoline"?

Gasoline includes “finished gasoline” and gasoline blendstocks. Note that the term “motor vehicle fuel” is often used in place of gasoline. Finished gasoline means all products (including gasohol) that are normally known or sold as gasoline. Gasoline does not include jet fuel, diesel fuel, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas in liquid or gaseous form, alcohol or racing fuel.

May individuals, businesses and other types of organizations qualify for refund?

Yes. Individuals, businesses (corporations, partnerships, sole proprietors, etc.), non-profit organizations, governmental entities, and other entities that have purchased and used gasoline for “qualifying off-highway purposes” may file for a refund.  All claimants must have paid the California gasoline tax to qualify for a refund.

What is the time limit for claiming a refund?

Refund claims must be filed within three (3) years from date of gasoline purchase.

Is the gasoline tax paid on fuel spilled or wasted while performing a qualifying activity refundable?

No.

What are some activities that may use gasoline in a qualifying manner for which a refund can be claimed?

A few common activities that may use gasoline for refundable purposes include:

  • Exportation of fuel out of state
  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Commercial fishing (in ocean beyond the three (3) mile limit)
  • Utility company operations
  • Golf course maintenance
  • Paratransit operations
  • Driving a vehicle on a military base

Does off–highway, recreational use in a vehicle qualify for refund?

Off–highway, recreational use in vehicles subject to registration or identification under Divisions 3 and/or 16.5 of the California Vehicle Code is not a qualifying use for refund purposes. This rule also applies to vehicles rented or leased for off–highway, recreational purposes.

Is the tax paid for gasoline used in vehicles driven on roads within a military installation completely refundable?

The tax paid on gas that is used on streets or roads within the controlled boundaries of a military installation is refundable except for the tax paid on gas used on state highways traversing a military installation.

May a refund be claimed for motor vehicle fuel used to propel an aircraft in California?

No.

Is a refund available for the tax paid on gasoline used in a vessel?

Refunds of the tax paid on gasoline are available if the vessel is used in the ocean beyond the three (3) mile limit. Refunds of the tax paid also are available if used in propelling a vessel operated by its owner on waters located on private property owned or controlled by the claimant.