500 Tax Exemption Policy

Statement of Policy:

Individuals conducting official UW–Madison business may be exempt from payment of tax depending on their location and the circumstances of the purchase. Any personal use of university’s tax exempt status is prohibited.

Note: Sponsored projects (e.g., fund 144 or 133) are subject to the terms and conditions of the specific award, as well as applicable program guidelines, which may restrict use of funds for certain types of expenses.  Please contact the RSP accountant for your award with any questions.

Tax Exemption within the State of Wisconsin

The Wisconsin sales and use tax law in s.77.54(9a) provides an exemption from payment of state, county and local tax. The department of Revenue has issued a tax exempt number for use by all UW System Institutions. Individuals may be asked to provide proof of tax exemption when conducting university business.

  • The tax exempt certificate should be used when making business-related purchases or advance travel reservations. For a copy of the tax exempt certificate, please visit the UW TravelWIse Portal and use the following navigation: Before You Go > Travel Process Standards > Sales Tax Exemption > Obtaining Wisconsin Sales Tax Exemption.
  • The Department of Revenue approved a tax exempt wallet card, obtainable from the Divisional Business Offices, which may be used in lieu of the tax exempt certificate when employees are in travel status. Employees are required to surrender the exemption cards to their department office when they leave the university or no longer travel on university business.


Lodging within the state of Wisconsin is tax exempt when any of the following criteria are met:

For Employees:

  • The university pays for the lodging with a Purchasing Card or purchase order and provides the tax exempt certificate at the time of the reservation.
  • Reservations are made in the name of the university and the employee. All subsequent invoices or receipts must be in the name of both parties.
  • The employee pays for the lodging with personal funds (e.g. My Corporate Card, personal credit card, cash) and presents the tax exemption wallet card to the lodging establishment to verify business travel and tax exempt status.

For Non-Employees:

  • The university pays for the lodging with a Purchasing Card or a purchase order and provides the tax exempt certificate at the time of reservation. Non-employees who pay for business lodging with personal funds and subsequently file for reimbursement are not eligible for tax exemption.

Note: Vendors are not required to refund tax if the tax exemption information was not provided at the time of reservation or check-in. Travelers and those that arrange travel for others should make every effort to receive tax exemption, but, if unable to do so, taxes will be paid/reimbursed by the university.

Tax Exemption outside the State of Wisconsin

Several states allow the University of Wisconsin System an exemption on their sales and use tax. For a list of participating states please visit the UW TravelWIse Portal and navigate to Policies & Procedures. Tax exempt information is listed under Procedures & Operational Standards. Be sure to carefully read the Restrictions/Procedures provided for each state in order to determine what specific commodities are eligible for tax exemption in each location.


Travelers and departmental staff should contact their respective Divisional Business Office for policy or procedural questions.

Divisional Business Offices may e-mail uwtravel@bussvc.wisc.edu with questions.