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Texas Severance Tax Incentives: Past and Present

The reduction or elimination of state severance taxes provides an economic incentive to operators to undertake activities that produce oil and gas resources that otherwise might remain unrecovered.  Texas recognized back in the late 1980’s that incentives to increase the state’s oil and gas production were extremely valuable.  Economic studies have shown that for each dollar invested in the oil and gas industry and for each dollar of production, there is a positive effect on the state’s economy. 

Prior to the oil and gas bust that began in the mid-1980s, the oil and gas sector was among the strongest in the Texas economy.  In the late-1980s and early 1990s, the poor health of the industry was reflected in the poor health of the state’s economy. The incentive programs are targeted to help strengthen the economy by encouraging investment in exploration and production and to maximize responsible development and efficient recovery of the state’s valuable natural resources. 

By providing exemptions from or reductions of the severance tax on oil and gas production, these incentive programs in effect lower the cost of production.  For marginal operations, in particular, these incentives might mean the difference between shutting in a well, keeping a well in production, or bringing a well back into production.  For others, the incentives are factored into decisions of drilling or not drilling a well, initiating an enhanced recovery project, or servicing a well to increase its production. 

Texas incentive programs have been so successful that other states have used them as models.  Severance tax incentives continue to be needed in the future to encourage production and expansion of oil and gas operations, and sustain a vital segment of the state’s economy.

The baseline Texas severance tax on oil and gas is:

  • Gas severance tax = 7.5% of market value of gas produced and saved
  • Oil severance tax = 4.6% of market value of oil produced
  • Condensate tax = 4.6% of market value

Present Incentive Programs (as of November, 2007)

Past Incentive Programs (as of November, 2007)

Notices pertaining to tax incentives:

Notice to Operators - The Opportunities of Two-Year Inactive Severance Tax Incentive Continue! (November, 2000)

Introduction to the New Incentives and a Review of the On-going Incentives (July, 1997)

Incremental Production Incentive for Oil Leases and the 2-Year Inactive Well Incentive for Oil and Gas Wells (August, 1997)

Statewide Rule 101 Revisions - Changes in Deadline for High-Cost Gas Incentive Certification and Notice Requirements for Tight Gas Formation Designation Application (September, 1997)

Statewide Rules Pertaining to Tax Incentive Programs: