DEFINITION of 'Severance Tax'

A tax imposed on the removal of nonrenewable resources such as crude oil, condensate and natural gas, coalbed methane and carbon dioxide.

Severance tax is charged to producers, or anyone with a working or royalty interest, in oil or gas operations in the imposing states. You may be charged severance tax even if you do not realize a net profit on your investment.

BREAKING DOWN 'Severance Tax'

Certain wells may be exempt from severance tax based on the amount they produce. Different states have different rules. For example, in Colorado, as of 2008, an oil well that produces less than an average of 15 barrels per producing day, or a gas well that produces less than an average of 90,000 cubic feet per producing day, is exempt from this tax.

It is important to note that severance tax is different from income tax, and you still have to pay all federal and state income taxes on oil and gas income in addition to severance tax.

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