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How to calculate Excise Tax

How to calculate Excise Tax


We've been talking about paying taxes on time and their details, but how do we calculate the excise tax after all? In this article, let's go step by step to calculate the excise tax that you are bound to pay.

The excise tax levied on the products can be of two types.

  1. Ad Valorem: The tax applicable is a percentage of the services or goods.
  2. Specific Tax: The tax is a fixed amount applied to the purchase.

To file your excise tax online, you can check out the seamless Simple 720 portal anytime!

Excise Tax Calculations

The excise tax applies to most of them; let's see a few of them and understand how it is calculated.

Table of Content
Environmental Excise Tax
Communication and Air Transportation Excise Taxes
Fuel Excise Tax
Retail Excise Tax
Ship Passenger Excise Tax
Foreign Insurance Excise Tax
Manufacturer Excise Tax
Other Excise Taxes
Miscellaneous taxes

Environmental Excise Tax

Petroleum products

For both imported and domestic crude oil products, the tax is the sum of the petroleum superfund tax rate and the petroleum oil spill tax rate.

The petroleum Superfund tax rate = $0.164

The petroleum oil spill tax rate = $0.09

The sum = $0.254

For example, X receives crude oil in 1,00,000 barrels. The tax liability is $1,00,000 × $0.254 = $25,400.

Chemical substances

The imported chemical substances are taxable, and the list of those taxable substances is in Part 2 of Form 6627.

To calculate this, one must be aware of the weight ratio of the taxable chemical substance. If you don't know about the weight ratio, use the rates provided by the IRS, or if the IRS hasn't mentioned the rates, then calculate the tax on 10% of the appraised value. For example, a metal may contain 25% chromite and 40% nickel. For chromite, it is $3.04 per ton, whereas for nickel, it is $8.90 per ton.

That way, chromite would be taxed at

$3.04 × 0.25 = $0.76

Nickel would be taxed at

$8.90 × 0.40 = $3.56

The sum of tax on the imported chemical substance is $0.76 + $3.56 = $4.32

Check out our blog on environmental excise Tax for a detailed understanding of the tax.

Communication and Air Transportation Taxes

On local communication services, a tax of about 3% is levied as a federal excise tax. For instance, if a communication service provider charges $100 per month for the service taker, a tax of 3% is taxed on it.

$100×3% = $3

That is $3 is collected by the communication service provider and paid to the government as federal excise tax.

Transportation of people by air 

The total tax on transportation is the sum of the domestic segment tax and the percentage tax.  Per segment, the transportation tax is $5 and the percentage tax is 7.5%.  

For example, Jom pays $327.5 for a flight on a commercial airline from Chicago to Washington with a flight having one segment. The fare is $300, and $27.5 is an excise tax ($300 × 7.5% = $22.50) and domestic segment tax (1 × $5 = $5). The total tax is $27.50. 

The chartered flight will have both domestic segment and percentage tax, but it is multiplied by the number of passengers to arrive at the sum of transportation tax for people by air. 

For instance, Jom pays $1113.40 for a charter service carrying 8 employees from Chicago to Washington.  The total tax looks like this ($1000 × 7.5% = $75) + (1×$5 × 8 = $40) = $115


Transportation of Property by Air 

The transportation of any taxable property by air incurs a tax of 6.25% as per section 4271 of the IRS code. 

To compute the tax on air transportation for a property, one must gather specific details:

  1. The total payment for the transportation service, encompassing fees, surcharges, and reimbursements.
  2. The weight of the transported property, specified in pounds or kilograms.
  3. The flight distance, measured in miles or kilometers.
  4. The origin and destination of the flight, along with whether they lie within or outside the United States.

A practical example illustrates the calculation process. Suppose a company pays $10,000 to transport 500 pounds of goods from New York to London via a cargo plane weighing 50,000 pounds. The flight spans 3,500 miles, with 500 miles within the US. The destination here is outside the US. To find the FET owed, follow these steps:

  1. Calculate the taxable amount by prorating the payment based on the mileage ratio (500/3,500), resulting in a taxable amount of $1,430.
  2. . Determine the FET by multiplying the taxable amount of $1,430 by 6.25%, yielding an FET of $89.38.

Thus, the company is liable for $89.38 in FET for air transportation of the property from New York to London.

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Use of International Air Travel Facilities

As per the IRS the amount paid on air travel facilities that are international and either end or begin in the US is $22.20 and if it is a domestic flight travel arrangement that begins or ends in Hawaii or Alaska the tax is $11.10.

Here’s how you can calculate the tax on this, firstly have a count of the number of passengers traveling, multiply it with the tax rate, and add it to the ticket price. For instance, if the price of a ticket is $600, for traveling from New York to Delhi with a stopover in London, and the number of passengers traveling is 2, then the tax would be; $600 + (2*$22.20) = $644.40. Where $44.40 is the tax and the total fare is $644.40 

So this tax must be collected by the person who issues the ticket and must report the same in the IRS Form 720 in IRS No. 17.

Fuel Excise Tax

Any taxable fuel that you use can be taxed. Fuels such as diesel, diesel water emulsion, kerosene, gasoline, and other alternative fuels are subject to the tax rate mentioned by the IRS for such fuels.

For instance, if you import 10000 gallons of kerosene, the kerosene is taxed at $2.44 per gallon, so accordingly, 10000 × 2.44 = $24,400 is a tax applicable to it.

For a more detailed breakdown of fuel excise tax charges, refer to the rates provided in the image below.


(source: IRS Form 720)

Retail Excise Tax

Trailers, trucks, tractors, and semi-trailer chassis and bodies.

It is applicable to those vehicles that exceed certain limits and is usually 12% of the tax applied to the first retail sale.

To what limit will the tax apply?

The semi-trailer bodies, chassis, and truck trailers exceed 12,000 pounds.

The truck body and chassis exceed 33,000 pounds.

The tractors exceed 19500 pounds or have a combined gross weight of over 33000 pounds.

For instance, if you purchase a truck body and chassis for $2,00,000 with a spare tire for $10,000, the tax applicable will be $2,10,000 × 0.12 = $25,200.

Check out our blog on Federal Excise Tax on Trucks for a detailed understanding of the tax.

Do you find manual calculations cumbersome? Move online today!

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Ship Passenger Excise Tax

On a commercial ship, a tax of $3 applies to each passenger. It is those ships that have accommodations, where the trip is for 1 or more days, and if it has gambling arrangements, even that is taxed.

For instance, the tax on a commercial ship with 20 passengers on a 1-day trip will be 20 × $3 = $60.

Foreign Insurance Excise Tax

A tax rate of 1% is levied on the foreign life insurance premiums. For instance, if you pay $10,000 for your foreign life insurance premium 1% would be,

$10,000 × 1% = $100

You need to pay $100 as foreign insurance excise tax.

Manufacturer Excise Tax

Suppose X manufactures a finished good out of underground mined coal and surface-mined coal. If you are a manufacturer, producer, or importer of tires, gas guzzlers, and vaccines, the tax is applicable.

For example, if the coal sales price was about $60 per ton, this must be multiplied by a tax rate of 4.4%, or $1.10, and take the lowest of either of them.

$60 × 4.4 = $2.64 $60 × $1.10 = $66

The lowest of both is $2.64 per ton, which is the applicable manufacturer tax per ton.

Other Excise Tax Calculations


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Sports Fishing Equipment Tax

On sale of any sports equipment for fishing a tax of 10% is levied. Suppose on the sale of a fishing rod costing $1000, an excise tax of 10% would be; $1000 × 10% = $100.

  1. On fishing rods and poles it is 10%
  2. On electric outboard motors it is 3%
  3. On fishing tackle boxes it is 3%
  4. On bows, quivers, broadheads, and points it is 11%
  5. On per arrow shaft it is $0.62

Indoor Tanning Services Tax

The tax of 10% applies to the sale price of the indoor tanning service. Suppose the sale price is $500, and a 10% tax is levied, which would account for $500 × 10% = $50.

$50 is the tax that needs to be paid on the indoor tanning service.

For detailed information on indoor tanning services, check out our blog on mastering indoor tanning tax.

Inland Waterways Fuel Use Tax

Generally, it is $0.29 per gallon.

For instance, you're running a transport vessel on inland waterways and it consumes 10,000 gallons of liquid fuel. The Inland Waterways Fuel Use Tax is set at $0.29 per gallon, resulting in a total tax of $2,900 ($0.29 per gallon x 10,000 gallons).

LUST Tax on inland waterways fuel use

It is taxed at $0.001. Suppose you're running a commercial vessel on inland waterways, consuming 10,000 gallons of liquid fuel. The LUST tax rate is $0.001 per gallon, resulting in a total LUST tax of $10 ($0.001 per gallon x 10,000 gallons).

To understand how to complete Form 720 after calculating your specific individual taxes, check out our comprehensive Form 720 Instructions page. We provide step-by-step guidance on filing Form 720.

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Miscellaneous taxes

While excise taxes apply to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, it's important to note that these products fall outside the scope of IRS Form 720. The regulation and filing of taxes for these items are overseen by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. To fulfill your tax obligations for these products, please use the appropriate return form available on their website.

Tobacco Excise Tax

The States apart from which federal as well apply taxes on tobacco products.

For instance, the tax on a pack of 20 cigarettes is $1.01. That way, suppose you have bought 10 packs; the tax levied will be 10 × $1.01 = $10.1 per 10 packs.

Alcohol Excise Tax

The rate from state to state may differ, and as per Washington law, it is $36.55 per gallon of distilled spirit. If you have purchased a 1000-gallon distilled spirit, a tax of say $36.55 × 1000 = $36,550 is applied to it.

The Wrap

The above are some instances of how excise taxes are calculated on specific applicable areas that must be filed through Form 720. Federal excise taxes are additional taxes applicable on specific goods and services in addition to taxes applied by the state for a business. Ensure to calculate and file it appropriately for all the applicable taxes that concern you and file it on time.

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