Fuel tax facts

Learn how we collect fuel taxes, register for online services, or see if you're eligible for a refund.

Access online fuel tax services

The Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) online system is an easier and faster way to manage your fuel tax accounts. Register your account through TAP.

What is the Prorate and Fuel Tax (PRFT) program?

The Prorate and Fuel Tax (PRFT) program provides services related to fuel tax and commercial motor carriers, including:

Types of fuel taxes

Type Fund Supports
Motor vehicle fuel or special fuel tax Motor Vehicle Fund Highway programs, including:
  • Constructing and maintaining state, city, and county roads, bridges, and ferries
  • Purchasing right of ways
  • Installing, maintaining, and operating traffic and signal lights
  • Policing state public highways
  • Operating movable span bridges
Aircraft fuel tax Aeronautics Fund Aeronautics Commission and public airports
Heating oil insurance fee Pollution Liability Insurance Agency (PLIA) We collect the fee on behalf of PLIA. Contact PLIA with any questions about this fee.

How we collect fuel taxes

We receive tax return information on fuel taxes from licensed or registered:

  • Distributors
  • Suppliers
  • Blenders
  • Aircraft fuel distributors
  • Terminal operators
  • Carriers

These businesses distribute, sell, and blend different types of fuels within Washington. We collect and distribute the tax to fund Washington State Department of Transportation projects.

The public pays the fuel tax with the purchase of each gallon of fuel. The state legislature sets fuel tax rates, which apply when you use fuel in a motor vehicle on highways as defined in law. You can find fuel tax rates on the fuel tax refunds page in the “Rates (per gallon)” tables.

Fuel tax refunds

If you paid taxes on at least 41 gallons of fuel in the last 13 months, you might be eligible for a refund if you used the fuel for:

  • Boating
  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Logging
  • Landscape or lawn maintenance
  • Export
  • Auxiliary equipment (such as the dumping mechanism on a dump truck or the boom on a boom truck)

Visit the fuel tax refunds page to see if you qualify.

Note: You can't claim a refund if you didn't pay Washington fuel tax.

Fuel tax exemptions

Some government agencies may be exempt from paying fuel tax. Examples include:

  • Local city and county municipalities using fuel for road construction and maintenance
  • Firefighting equipment using special fuel
  • U.S. government and armed forces using special fuel or motor fuel for export
  • Special transportation needs

Fuel tax consolidation changes

On July 1, 2016, changes approved in Substitute House Bill 1883 – Fuel Tax Administration went into effect. The new law:

  • Simplified, streamlined, and updated Washington fuel tax laws
  • Reduced 13 license types to 4 types
  • Created 2 new registration types: terminal operators and fuel carriers
  • Required fuel terminals in Washington to report their fuel inventory, receipts, and disbursements
  • Required all licensees to apply for new licenses and bonds
  • Removed the application requirements for fingerprint cards, background checks, and financial statements
  • Standardized penalty rates

License changes

  • Aircraft distributor (combined aviation gas and jet fuel)
  • Motor fuel (MF) license types became suppliers, distributors, and blenders
  • Special fuel (SF) license types became suppliers, distributors, and blenders
  • Aircraft fuel (Air) license types became aircraft distributors

New registration types

The new law also introduced the option to register as a terminal operator or fuel carrier.

Terminal operators

IRS terminal operators must:

  • Register as a terminal operator, and
  • File monthly reports, including:
    • Fuel receipts
    • Disbursements
    • Beginning and ending inventory balances

Reporting requirement: Reports are due on or before the 25th of each month following the related reporting period. If you operate more than one terminal, you must file a separate monthly report for each one. You can file reports through TAP.

Bonding requirement: Terminal operators don't need a bond.

Fuel carriers

Fuel carriers transporting fuel via rail must:

  • Register as a fuel carrier, and
  • File monthly reports of transported fuel

If you're transporting fuel via truck, you don't need to register as a fuel tax carrier.

Bonding requirement: Fuel carriers don't need a bond.

Related information

Contact us

Fuel Tax Unit

Fuel Tax Unlicensed Refunds Unit

Motor Carrier Services (IFTA/IRP)

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