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Effective April 1, 2017, California has enacted a $1.00 California battery fee on the purchase of a replacement lead-acid battery and a $1.00 manufacturer battery fee on the sale of a lead-acid battery to a dealer, wholesaler, distributor or other person in the state. On April 1, 2022, the California battery fee will increase to $2.00. The manufacturer battery fee will end on March 31, 2022. 


A lead-acid battery, the type commonly found in vehicles, is a battery weighing more than five kilograms (about 11 pounds), primarily composed of both lead and sulfuric acid (liquid, solid, or gel), with a capacity of six or more volts, that is used as: 


  • A starting battery for delivering a high burst of energy to start an internal combustion engine,
  • A motive power battery to provide the power for propulsion of a vehicle, including watercraft,
  • A stationary storage or standby battery to be used in a system where the battery acts as electrical storage or a source of emergency or backup power, or
  • A source of auxiliary power to support the electrical systems in a vehicle 


For the California battery fee, dealers may retain 1.5% of the fee as reimbursement for costs associated with collection of the fee. Dealers must charge a refundable deposit, subject to sales tax, when a consumer purchases a replacement lead-acid battery and does not simultaneously provide a used lead-acid battery to the dealer. Dealers are required to state the fee and refundable deposit on the invoice for all sales of replacement lead-acid batteries. Dealers also must post a written notice of the fee. 


Dealers and manufacturers are required to register, report electronically, and pay the fees to the California State Board of Equalization (BOE).Certain exemptions and exclusions apply to the California battery fee. For more information, visit the California State BOE webpage. (Special Notice L-489, California State Board of Equalization, February 2017)


California has approved an increase in the electronic waste recycling (eWaste) fee rates for all covered electronic devices (CEDs). Effective January 1, 2017, the eWaste fee increases for all CEDs. The new rates are: for a screen size of more than 4 inches, but less than 15 inches, the fee is $5; for a screen size of 15 inches or more, but less than 35 inches, the fee is $6; and for a screen size of 35 inches of more, the fee is $7. The eWaste fee is remitted to the Board of Equalization.  (Tax Information Bulletin, California State Board of Equalization, December 2016)


On November 8, 2016, four jurisdictions in California and Colorado approved “soda taxes” through ballot measure. San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, CA each approved “soda taxes” in the amount of one-cent per ounce. Boulder, CO approved a tax in the amount of two-cents per ounce. On November 10, 2016, the County Board in Cook County, IL (which includes Chicago) approved a tax in the amount of one-cent per ounce. It should be noted that Chicago, IL has imposed a 3% soft drink tax since 1993. These jurisdictions join Berkeley, CA and Philadelphia, PA, which have also adopted soda taxes.


On January 1, 2017, California’s state sales and use tax rate will decrease 0.25% from 7.5% to 7.25%. Note that this rate includes the statewide county tax of 1.25%, so the true California state sales and use tax rate is decreasing from 6.25% to 6%. The state had implemented a temporary sales tax rate increase of 0.25% from January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2016. The lower rate applies for sales that occur after January 1, 2017.  This is deemed to be date of delivery unless the contract stipulates that title transfer occurs at an earlier date.  In addition, for fixed rate contracts, the rate reduction applies – even if the contract was entered into prior to the rate change.  This rate change also impacts the partial exemption under the manufacturing provisions.  For additional information on how the rate decrease affects partial exemptions and other items, visit the California BOE webpage. (Special Notice L-475, California State Board of Equalization, October 2016)


California has amended a regulation regarding newspapers and periodicals to clarify how sales and use tax apply to lump-sum charges for mixed newspaper subscriptions that include the right to access digital content. Beginning October 1, 2016, the amended regulation establishes a rebuttable presumption that 53% of the lump-sum charge for a mixed newspaper subscription is for the nontaxable sale of the right to access digital content. This presumption may be overcome by evidence demonstrating that the digital-only subscription rate divided by the sum of the print-only subscription rate and the digital-only subscription rate is greater than 53%. Taxpayers must maintain records to substantiate a nontaxable allocation greater than 53%, and rates cannot be computed more often than once per quarter. (Reg. 1590, California State Board of Equalization, effective October 1, 2016)



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