In the next few weeks as thousands of snowbirds migrate from the east to west along Interstate 10, many savvy road trippers will be thinking of the latest viral RV news on the Internet while questioning which diesel fuel pumps are OK to use for RVers.
In October, a flurry of discussion in the RVing community about Arizona’s diesel fuel taxes, forced RV travelers to question the legitimate use of diesel pumps at filling stations around the Grand Canyon State. Motorhome owners especially wanted to know if this law, posted at diesel pumps across Arizona, applies to them:
The discussion that started it all began in an Escapees RV Group forums post in which a member announced that he’d just been hit with a $1,000 fine for filling up at the wrong pump:
Yesterday I was fueling my toterhome at the Quick Trip truck stop on 51 Ave and I-10 in Phoenix. I was at the pumps marked ‘autos.’ I went into put down my card and the attendant told me I was at the wrong pump. I told her I am a registered RV. She said OK and off I went and started fueling.
Shortly thereafter two plain cloths DOT cops walked up and asked to see all my paperwork. They were very nice about it and explained that RV status in Arizona has nothing to do with which fuel(and therefore fuel tax) you are supposed to use. It only has to do with rated weight and number of axles. They then took me over to the pump where the fine print on a tiny little sticker explained that, auto diesel was not to be used in any vehicle over 26,000 pounds OR three or more axles.
They then said they were sorry but fuel monitoring was their only responsibility and they had to write me a ticket even though they knew I wasn’t trying to avoid a tax. They also stated that Arizona was the only state to have this law.
RVers all across the Internet panicked and wanted to know if fueling at the wrong pump would mean the same fate for them. Jim Koca, advocacy director of the Escapees RV club, made attempts to quell the flames with a press release that said:
“If the fuel is used in the “propulsion of a use class motor vehicle” on a highway in this state, the tax rate is 26 cents for each gallon.”
However even Koka’s explanation wasn’t the real scoop, according to Chuck Woodbury, author of the blog RVArizona.
In an October 14 post, Woodbury clarified the situation once and for all by speaking with Arizona Department of Transportation Fuel Tax Manager, Chris Kent. The fact-finding mission revealed that Arizona’s diesel fuel tax policy excuses RVers from paying the extra “use class” tax provided that the rig has at least four of the following items:
- A cooking facility with an on-board fuel source,
- A gas or electric refrigerator
- A toilet with exterior evacuation
- A heating or air-conditioning system with an on-board power or fuel source separate from the vehicle engine
- A portable water supply system that includes at least a sink, a faucet and a water tank with an exterior service supply connection
- A 110-125 volt electric power supply
To be excused from paying the extra tax at the pump, your RV must meet at least four of these criteria and be used exclusively for recreational purposes – even if it weighs more than 26,000 pounds and/or has more than three axles. Should you decide to turn your RV into a rolling office on wheels, once you weigh in over 26,000 pounds and have more than two axles, you are subject to paying the higher tax rate.
Clearing up the air about the Arizona fuel tax confusion is good news for the majority of snowbirds, but as far as the growing number of RVers running their own business from the road, it looks like they’ll still be required to fill up at a higher tax rate than the majority of RVers on the snowbird migration.
Often called “The O.G. of full-time RVing,” Rene Agredano and her husband Jim Nelson hit the road in a fifth wheel trailer in 2007, after their dog Jerry lost a leg to terminal cancer. Sixteen years later they are still traveling and sharing their nomadic adventures at LiveWorkDream. As a self-employed wordsmith, Rene shares her expertise for many RV industry videos, publications such as the Escapees RV Club Magazine, and has authored numerous books, including the Essential RVing Guide to National Parks, and Income Anywhere, a guide to earning money on the road. She has been featured in global media outlets including the PBS documentary “NATURE: Why We Love Cats and Dogs,” The Guardian Sunday Edition, and the Dan Pink book Free Agent Nation.