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Publication 510

Gas Guzzler Tax(p33)

Tax is imposed on the sale by the manufacturer of automobiles of a model type that has a fuel economy standard as measured by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of less than 22.5 miles per gallon. If you import an automobile for personal use, you may be liable for this tax. Figure the tax on Form 6197, as discussed later. The tax rate is based on fuel economy rating. The tax rates for the gas guzzler tax are shown on Form 6197.
A person that lengthens an existing automobile is the manufacturer of an automobile.


An automobile (including limousines) means any four-wheeled vehicle that is:
Vehicles not subject to tax.(p33)
For the gas guzzler tax, the following vehicles are not considered automobiles.
  1. Limousines with a gross unloaded vehicle weight of more than 6,000 pounds.
  2. Vehicles operated exclusively on a rail or rails.
  3. Vehicles sold for use and used primarily:
    1. As ambulances or combination ambulance-hearses,
    2. For police or other law enforcement purposes by federal, state, or local governments, or
    3. For firefighting purposes.
  4. Vehicles treated under 49 U.S.C. 32901 (1978) as non-passenger automobiles. This includes limousines manufactured primarily to transport more than 10 persons.
The manufacturer can sell a vehicle described in item (3) tax free only when the sale is made directly to a purchaser for the described emergency use and the manufacturer and purchaser (other than a state or local government) are registered.
Treat an Indian tribal government as a state only if the police or other law enforcement purposes are an essential tribal government function.

Model type.(p33)

Model type is a particular class of automobile as determined by EPA regulations.

Fuel economy.(p33)

Fuel economy is the average number of miles an automobile travels on a gallon of gasoline (or diesel fuel) rounded to the nearest 0.1 mile as figured by the EPA.
Imported automobiles.(p33)
The tax also applies to automobiles that do not have a prototype-based fuel economy rating assigned by the EPA. An automobile imported into the United States without a certificate of conformity to United States emission standards and that has no assigned fuel economy rating must be either:
An imported automobile that has been converted to conform to an automobile already certified for sale in the United States may use the fuel economy rating assigned to that certified automobile.
A fuel economy rating is not generally available for modified imported automobiles because the EPA does not require a highway fuel economy test on them. A separate highway fuel economy test would be required to devise a fuel economy rating (otherwise the automobile is presumed to fall within the lowest fuel economy rating category).
For more information about fuel economy ratings for imported automobiles, see Revenue Ruling 86-20 and Revenue Procedure 86-9 in Cumulative Bulletin 1986-1, and Revenue Procedure 87-10 in Cumulative Bulletin 1987-1.


No one is exempt from the gas guzzler tax, including the federal government, state and local governments, qualified blood collector organizations, and nonprofit educational organizations. However, see Vehicles not subject to tax, earlier.

Form 6197.(p34)

Use Form 6197 to figure your tax liability for each quarter. Attach Form 6197 to your Form 720 for the quarter. See the Form 6197 instructions for more information and the one-time filing rules.

Credit or refund.(p34)

If the manufacturer paid the tax on a vehicle that is used or resold for an emergency use (see item (3) under Vehicles not subject to tax), the manufacturer can claim a credit or refund. For information about how to file for credits or refunds, see the Instructions for Form 720 or Form 8849.