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Driving on base could make you eligible for gas tax refund

The state of California may refund taxes paid on gasoline to residents who use the gasoline while driving on a military installation. Claims must be submitted to the California State Controller’s office. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rebecca Amber)

The state of California may refund taxes paid on gasoline to residents who use the gasoline while driving on a military installation. Claims must be submitted to the California State Controller’s office. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rebecca Amber)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Each time a California resident pulls up to the pump, they pay taxes for each gallon of gasoline purchased. A portion of the tax money is used to maintain or repair California roads. For military base residents and employees, a large portion of that gasoline is used on the federal installation.

For that reason, the state of California offers a gasoline tax refund for off-highway vehicles.

"California has said, 'we will refund the tax paid on fuel, if that fuel is not used on a California road,'" said Lt. Col. Dale Riedel, staff judge advocate. "For example, one of the potentials was if you bought fuel in California and then took that vehicle out of the state, you might be able to file a claim."

Refunds are claimed through the California State Controller's office. This year's motor vehicle fuel excise tax rate is $0.36 per gallon. The refund only applies to the percentage of fuel used on the base; therefore the individual filing the claim is responsible for calculating the amount of fuel that was used on the installation.

"As soon as you come on Rosamond Blvd. heading east past the sign that says 'Welcome to Edwards,' you're now on a federal installation and the state of California doesn't pay for the maintenance on the roads," said Riedel.

The same is true for those accessing the base at the North and South gates. And it's not just for military personnel and DOD civilians; it's for any individual driving on base, including dependents.

"If you're driving on the base and you bought the fuel in California you're eligible for the refund."

Claims are generally filed once per calendar year. Riedel recommends keeping a log to track the number of miles driven on the base each week. The California State Controller's office requires that receipts are kept for four years if a claim is filed in the event of an audit.

"If you are one of those people that drives a lot on the base, then your mileage tracking really needs to show that," said Riedel. 

The Exchange Express gas station does charge the California state tax, and therefore, the gasoline purchased on base does qualify towards the refund program, except for diesel fuel.

Qualifying vehicles run on "finished gasoline" and gasoline blendstocks. Gasoline does not include jet fuel, diesel fuel, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas in liquid or gaseous form, alcohol or racing fuel.

Vehicles used for off-highway, recreational purposes may not qualify for a refund. 

For more information on the gas tax refund program or to file a claim, visit http://www.sco.ca.gov/ardtax_gas_tax.html . For information regarding diesel fuel visit http://www.boe.ca.gov.