Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Business Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2014
 

Sales And Use Tax Regulations

Article 3. Manufacturers, Producers, Processors

Regulation 1533.2

Regulation 1533.2. Diesel Fuel Used in Farming Activities or Food Processing.

Reference: Section 6357.1, Revenue and Taxation Code

(a) GENERAL. Commencing on and after September 1, 2001, Section 6357.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code partially exempts from sales and use tax the sale of, and the storage, use, or other consumption in this state, of diesel fuel used in farming activities or food processing. The terms "farming activities" and "food processing" are defined below.

For the period commencing on September 1, 2001, and ending on December 31, 2001, the partial exemption applies to the taxes imposed by Sections 6051 and 6201 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (4.75%), but does not apply to the taxes imposed pursuant to Sections 6051.2 and 6201.2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law, the Transactions and Use Tax Law, or Section 35 of article XIII of the California Constitution.

For the period commencing on January 1, 2002, and ending on June 30, 2004, the partial exemption applies to the taxes imposed by Sections 6051, 6051.3, 6201, and 6201.3 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (5%), but does not apply to the taxes imposed pursuant to Sections 6051.2 and 6201.2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law, the Transactions and Use Tax Law, or Section 35 of article XIII of the California Constitution.

For the period commencing on July 1, 2004, and ending on March 31, 2009, the partial exemption applies to the taxes imposed by Sections 6051, 6051.3, 6051.5, 6201, 6201.3, and 6201.5 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (5.25%), but does not apply to the taxes imposed or administered pursuant to Sections 6051.2 and 6201.2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law, the Transactions and Use Tax Law, or Section 35 of article XIII of the California Constitution.

For the period commencing on April 1, 2009, and ending on June 30, 2011, the partial exemption applies to the taxes imposed by sections 6051, 6051.3, 6051.5, 6051.7, 6201, 6201.3, 6201.5, and 6201.7 of the Revenue and Taxation Code (6.25%), but does not apply to the taxes imposed or administered pursuant to sections 6051.2 and 6201.2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law, the Transactions and Use Tax Law, or section 35 of article XIII of the California Constitution.

For the period commencing on July 1, 2011, and ending on December 31, 2012, the partial exemption applies to the taxes imposed by sections 6051, 6051.3, 6051.5, 6051.8, 6201, 6201.3, 6201.5, and 6201.8 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, but does not apply to the taxes imposed or administered pursuant to sections 6051.2 and 6201.2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law, the Transactions and Use Tax Law, or section 35 of article XIII of the California Constitution.

For the period commencing on January 1, 2013, the partial exemption applies to the taxes imposed by section 36 of article XIII of the California Constitution and sections 6051, 6051.3, 6051.5, 6051.8, 6201, 6201.3, 6201.5, and 6201.8 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, but does not apply to the taxes imposed or administered pursuant to sections 6051.2 and 6201.2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, the Bradley-Burns Uniform Local Sales and Use Tax Law, the Transactions and Use Tax Law, or section 35 of article XIII of the California Constitution. Given the varying rates of the taxes imposed by sections 6051.8 and 6201.8, the partial exemption applies to the following cumulative sales and use tax rates:

(1) 7.12 percent for the period July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012;

(2) 7.42 percent for the period July 1, 2012, through deletion December 31, 2012;

(3) 7.67 percent for the period January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013;

(4) 7.44deletion percent for the period July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014; and

(deletion5) 7.25deletion percent on or after July 1, 2014.

(b) DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this regulation:

(1) "Farming activities" mean a trade or business involving the cultivation of land or the raising or harvesting of any agricultural or horticultural commodity that may be legally sold to or offered for sale to others. These include the trade or business of operating a nursery or sod farm; the raising or harvesting of trees bearing fruit or nuts, or of other crops (e.g., grains, vegetables, or cotton); the raising of ornamental trees (other than evergreen trees that are more than six years old at the time they are severed from their roots); and the raising, shearing, feeding, caring for, training, and management of animals. The raising of animals includes the delivery of feed to the animal feeding operation, whether by the owner or the supplier of the feed. Operating a garden plot, orchard, or farm for the purpose of growing plants or animals for a person's own use shall not be considered a farming activity. Harvesting involves the gathering of any agricultural or horticultural commodity and includes activities such as crop drying, cotton ginning, and fruit ripening. Harvesting an agricultural commodity also includes the washing of the agricultural commodity, the inspection and grading of the agricultural commodity or livestock, and the packaging of the agricultural commodity for shipment as well as those activities delineated in Codes 0723 and 0724 of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual published by the United States Office of Management and Budget, 1987 edition (hereafter SIC Manual). For purposes of this regulation, merely buying and reselling plants or animals grown or raised entirely by another is not raising an agricultural or horticultural commodity. A person is engaged in raising a plant or animal, rather than the mere selling of a plant or animal, if the plant or animal is held for further cultivation and development prior to sale. In determining whether a plant or animal is held for further cultivation and development prior to sale, consideration will be given to all of the facts and circumstances, including: the value added by a person to the plant or animal through agricultural or horticultural processes; the length of time between the person's acquisition of the plant or animal and the time that the person makes the plant or animal available for sale; and in the case of a plant, whether the plant is kept in the container in which purchased, replanted in the ground, or replanted in a series of larger containers as it is grown to a larger size.

Farming activities also include the transportation and delivery of the agricultural or horticultural commodity, as described herein, from the trade or business that cultivated, raised or harvested the commodity to the marketplace, as described in subdivision (b)(5), and any empty haul related to the transportation of that agricultural or horticultural commodity.

Farming activities do not include food processing or transportation and delivery of processed food products to the marketplace.

Example A: A commercial hauler travels from its company yard to Grower A's field to pick up a load of tomatoes. The tomatoes are hauled to a processing plant. The hauler returns to the field with empty trailers. The sale of diesel fuel to the commercial hauler for use in this activity is partially exempt from tax.

Example B: A commercial hauler travels from its company yard to Grower A's field to pick up a load of fresh bell peppers. The bell peppers are sold to a grocery store and are delivered to the grocery store's distribution center. At the distribution center, the hauler picks up a load of pallets to deliver to another customer. The sale of diesel fuel to the commercial hauler for use from the yard the field and to the grocery store's distribution center is partially exempt from tax. The sale of diesel fuel to the commercial hauler for use in delivering the pallets is not partially exempt from tax.

Example C: A nursery owner transports its horticultural products to a distribution center. After delivering the product, the nursery owner makes two stops. The first stop is to pick up fertilizer for use at the nursery. The second stop is personal business unrelated to the nursery operation. The sale of diesel fuel to the nursery owner for use in this example is partially exempt from tax up to and including the first stop.

(2) "Plants" mean an agricultural or horticultural commodity produced in a farming activity which includes, but is not limited to, trees bearing fruit or nuts, other crops, an ornamental tree, a vine, a bush, or sod. Sea plants are produced in a farming activity if they are tended and cultivated as opposed to merely harvested.

(3) "Animals" mean a life form produced in a farming activity which includes, but is not limited to, any livestock, poultry or other bird, and fish or other sea life.

Fish and other sea life are produced in a farming activity if they are raised on a fish farm. A fish farm is an area where fish or other sea life are grown or raised as opposed to merely caught or harvested.

(4) "Food processing" means the activities described in Industry Groups 201, 202, 203, 204, and 207, or Codes 2068 and 2084 of the SIC Manual. Food processing activities also includes transporting raw product, supplies and materials to the processing facility, transporting partially processed food products between various divisions of the same food processing entity for further processing operations, and any empty hauls related to the transportation of that product. Food processing does not include transportation and delivery of processed food products to the marketplace. A food processor is not required to be engaged 50 percent or more of the time in such activities as described herein.

Example A: A for-hire carrier, contracted for by a cheese plant, transports unprocessed milk from a dairy farm to the cheese plant for processing and then returns to the carrier's truck yard. The diesel used in this example is eligible for the partial sales tax exemption.

Example B: A flour mill transports flour sacks from a bag manufacturer to the mill's facility, and then transports those sacks to other flour mills owned by the same entity. The diesel used to transport the sacks in this example is eligible for the partial sales tax exemption, but the transportation of flour is not.

Example C: Cannery A and Cannery B are different divisions of the same food processing entity. Cannery A processes unprocessed tomatoes into tomato paste and then transports the paste to Cannery B for further processing. Cannery B processes the paste into tomato soup which is then transported to a grocery distribution warehouse. From the distribution warehouse the processed product is transported by the buyer to individual grocery stores and other distribution warehouses. Only the movement of paste from Cannery A to Cannery B is eligible for the partial sales tax exemption. The subsequent movement of product to the first distribution center and to retail stores and other warehouses is not eligible for the exemption.

(5) "Marketplace" means the place where a commodity is sold for resale, at retail or for consumption at an animal feeding operation, notwithstanding any intervening activities to prepare the product for sale in the marketplace. Such preparation activities include, but are not limited to, cooling, sorting, inspection, grading, drying, packing, handling, washing, slaughtering and butchering (except as otherwise described in Codes 2011 and 2015 of the SIC Manual), candling, sterilizing, freezing, pasteurizing, homogenizing, and packaging. Producers of agricultural or horticultural products may prepare and market their products through a cooperative, joint venture, corporation or partnership in which they have a financial interest, or other such enterprises, and the diesel used in these enterprises to transport products to the marketplace is eligible for the sales tax exemption.

(6) "Diesel fuel" means, for purposes of this regulation only, any fuel that is commonly or commercially known, sold or represented as diesel fuel No. 1-D or No. 2-D, pursuant to the specifications in American Society for Testing and Materials Standard Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils ("ASTM") D 975–81, which is incorporated herein by reference. Diesel fuel, for purposes of this regulation only, also includes Environmental Protection Agency rated diesel fuel commonly known as "federal fuel" sold for use in locomotives, or which is used in generators, pumps, dehydrators and any other equipment used in the conduct of farming and food processing activities. "Diesel fuel" does not include gasoline, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas in liquid or gaseous form, alcohol, aviation fuel, except diesel fuel sold for use in aircraft designed for agricultural aerial applications that meets the specifications of ASTM D 1655, jet fuel, bunker fuel, or other like substance used as a fuel. Qualifying diesel fuel shall be identified accordingly on the invoice of sale.

(7) "Qualified activity" means farming activities as defined in subdivision (b)(1) or food processing, as defined in subdivision (b)(4).

(c) PARTIAL EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES.

(1) IN GENERAL. A person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity from an in-state retailer, or an out-of-state retailer obligated to collect use tax, must provide the retailer with a partial exemption certificate in order for the retailer to claim the partial exemption. If the retailer takes a partial exemption certificate timely and in good faith, as defined in subdivision (c)(5), from a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity, the partial exemption certificate relieves the retailer from the liability for the sales tax subject to partial exemption under this regulation or the duty of collecting the use tax subject to partial exemption under this regulation. A partial exemption certificate will be considered timely if it is taken any time before the retailer bills the purchaser for the diesel fuel, any time within the retailer's normal billing or payment cycle, any time at or prior to delivery of the diesel fuel to the purchaser, or no later than 15 days after the date of purchase. A partial exemption certificate which is not taken timely will not relieve the retailer of the liability for tax excluded by the partial exemption; however the retailer may present satisfactory evidence to the Board that the retailer sold the diesel fuel to a person that used it in a qualified activity. A partial exemption from the sales and use tax under this part shall not be allowed unless the retailer claims the partial exemption on its sales and use tax return for the reporting period during which the transaction subject to the partial exemption occurred. Where the retailer fails to claim the partial exemption as set forth above, the retailer may file a claim for refund as set forth in subdivision (e).

The partial exemption certificate form set forth in Appendix A may be used to claim the partial exemption.

(2) BLANKET PARTIAL EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES. In lieu of requiring a partial exemption certificate for each transaction, a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity may issue a blanket partial exemption certificate. The partial exemption certificate form set forth in Appendix A may be used as a blanket partial exemption certificate. Appendix A may also be used as a specific partial exemption certificate if the purchaser provides the purchase order or sales invoice number and a precise description of the property being purchased. A person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity must include in the partial exemption certificate how much or what percentage of the diesel fuel purchased will be used in a qualified activity. If purchasing diesel fuel not qualifying for the partial exemption, the purchaser must clearly state in documents such as a written purchase order, sales agreement, or contract that the sale or purchase is not subject to the blanket partial exemption certificate.

(3) FORM OF PARTIAL EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE. Any document, such as a letter or purchase order, timely provided by the purchaser to the seller will be regarded as a partial exemption certificate with respect to the sale or purchase of diesel fuel if it contains all of the following essential elements:

(A) The signature of the purchaser, purchaser's employee, or authorized representative of the purchaser.

(B) The name, address and telephone number of the purchaser.

(C) The number of the seller's permit held by the purchaser. If the purchaser is not required to hold a permit because the purchaser sells only property of a kind the retail sale of which is not taxable, e.g., food products for human consumption, or because the purchaser makes no sales in this state, the purchaser must include on the certificate a sufficient explanation as to the reason the purchaser is not required to hold a California seller's permit in lieu of a seller's permit number.

(D) A statement of how much or what percentage of the diesel fuel purchased will be used in a qualified farming or food processing activity.

(E) Date of execution of document.

(4) RETENTION AND AVAILABILITY OF PARTIAL EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES. A retailer must retain each partial exemption certificate received from a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity for a period of not less than four years from the date on which the retailer claims a partial exemption based on the partial exemption certificate.

While the Board will not normally require the filing of the partial exemption certificate with a sales and use tax return, when necessary for the efficient administration of the Sales and Use Tax Law, the Board may, on 30 days' written notice, require a retailer to commence filing with its sales and use tax returns copies of all partial exemption certificates. The Board may also require, within 45 days of the Board's request, retailers provide the Board access to any and all partial exemption certificates, or copies thereof, accepted for the purposes of supporting the partial exemption.

(5) GOOD FAITH. A seller will be presumed to have taken a partial exemption certificate in good faith in the absence of evidence to the contrary. A seller, without knowledge to the contrary, may accept a partial exemption certificate in good faith where the purchaser states that a certain percentage of the diesel fuel purchased will be used in farming activities or food processing. However, a partial exemption certificate cannot be accepted in good faith where the seller has knowledge that the diesel fuel is not subject to a partial exemption, or will not be otherwise used in a partially exempt manner.

(d) PARTIAL EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE FOR USE TAX. The partial exemption certificate must be completed by a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity to claim a partial exemption from use tax from an out-of-state retailer not obligated to collect the use tax. A partial exemption from the use tax shall not be allowed unless the purchaser or retailer claims the partial exemption on its individual use tax return, sales and use tax return, or consumer use tax return for the reporting period during which the transaction subject to the partial exemption occurred. Where the purchaser or retailer fails to claim the partial exemption as set forth above, the purchaser or retailer may file a claim for refund as set forth in subdivision (e).

The purchaser who files an individual use tax return must attach a completed partial exemption certificate to the return. The purchaser who is registered with the Board as a retailer or consumer and files a sales and use tax return or consumer use tax return must, within 45 days of the Board's request, provide the Board access to any and all documents that support the claimed partial exemption.

The partial exemption certificate form set forth in Appendix A may be used to claim the partial exemption.

(e) REFUND OF PARTIAL EXEMPTION.

(1) For the period commencing on September 1, 2001, and ending on April 30, 2002, a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity may claim the partial exemption on qualified purchases from an in-state retailer or an out-of-state retailer obligated to collect the use tax by furnishing the retailer with a partial exemption certificate on or before July 31, 2002. The retailer must refund the tax or tax reimbursement directly to a purchaser of diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity or, at the purchaser's sole option, the purchaser may be credited with such amount.

(2) A retailer who paid sales tax on a qualified sale or a person who paid use tax on a qualified purchase and who failed to claim the partial exemption as provided by this regulation may file a claim for refund equal to the amount of the partial exemption that he or she could have claimed pursuant to this regulation. The procedure for filing a claim shall be the same as for other claims for refund filed pursuant to Revenue and Taxation Code section 6901. For transactions subject to use tax, a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity filing a claim for refund of the partial exemption has the burden of establishing that he or she was entitled to claim the partial exemption with respect to the amount of refund claimed under this part. For transactions subject to sales tax, a person filing a claim for refund of the partial exemption has the burden of establishing that the purchaser of the diesel fuel otherwise met all the requirements of a person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity at the time of the purchase subject to the refund claimed under this part.

(f) IMPROPER USE OF PARTIAL EXEMPTION. Notwithstanding subdivision (a), tax applies to any sale of, and the storage, use, or other consumption in this state of diesel fuel that is used in a manner not qualifying for the partial exemption under this regulation.

(g) PURCHASER'S LIABILITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF SALES TAX.

(1) If a purchaser timely submits a copy of a partial exemption certificate to the retailer or partial exemption certificate for use tax to the Board, and then uses the diesel fuel in a manner not qualifying for the partial exemption, the purchaser shall be liable for payment of the sales tax, with applicable interest, to the same extent as if the purchaser were a retailer making a retail sale of the diesel fuel at the time the diesel fuel was so removed, converted, or used.

(2) A purchaser providing a partial exemption certificate accepted in good faith by the retailer or a partial exemption certificate for use tax to the Board for diesel fuel that does not qualify for the partial exemption is liable for payment of the sales tax, with applicable interest, to the same extent as if the purchaser were a retailer making a retail sale of the diesel fuel at the time the diesel fuel was purchased.

(h) RECORDS. Adequate and complete records must be maintained by the person who purchases diesel fuel for use in a qualified activity as evidence that the diesel fuel purchased was used in a qualified activity.

(i) OPERATIVE DATE. This regulation is operative as of September 1, 2001.

History: Adopted April 18, 2002, operative September 1, 2001.

Amended June 30, 2004, effective August 17, 2004. Subdivision (a)—in 2nd unnumbered paragraph added phrase "and ending on June 30, 2004," added new third unnumbered paragraph to reflect the increase of the state portion of the sales and use tax to 5.25% on July 1, 2004. Subdivision (g)—added the letter "r" to the title "PURCHASE'S" to correct a misspelling. Subdivision (j)—replaced the word "effective" with "operative".

Amended April 15, 2009, effective June 4, 2009. Amended subdivision (a) to reflect the increase in the partial exemption rate to 6.25% from April 1, 2009 until Revenue and Taxation Code sections 6051.7 and 6201.7 cease to be operative.

Amended July 26, 2011, effective October 26, 2011. The amendments revised the first sentence in the fifth paragraph of subdivision (a) so that the fifth paragraph applies to the period commencing on April 1, 2009, and ending on June 30, 2011; and added a new sixth paragraph to subdivision (a) that is applicable to the period commencing on July 1, 2011.3

Amended March 13, 2013, effective July 11, 2013. Amended subdivision (a) to reflect the increase in the partial exemption rate on January 1, 2013 caused by the addition of section 36 to article XIII of the California Constitution.

Partial Exemption Certificate; Qualified Sales And Purchases of Diesel And Farm Equipment And Machinery


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