University of Minnesota  Procedure

Making University Tax Exempt Purchases


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Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

Purchases Within the State of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota has a very broad sales tax exemption and may purchase most items exempt from state and local sales taxes. In the State of Minnesota, the exemption does not apply to the following:

  • Lodging
  • Prepared Food
  • Candy
  • Soft Drinks
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Solid Waste Disposal Services
  • Alcoholic Beverages

Purchases in Other States

For purchases made out of Minnesota, check the Tax Management Office website to determine whether the state provides an exemption for the University. Any available exemption certificates from the various states can be found on the website if the state has determined the University is exempt. We are not exempt in all states, so you may need to pay sales tax on purchases from some states.


The procedure for making University tax exempt purchases is easy:

1.     Use your University Procurement/Travel Card

    • Minnesota state statute requires that the University of Minnesota directly pay for any items purchased with the University’s tax exemption. This means that the only acceptable forms of payment are the University issued Procurement/Travel Card or a University issued check. The exemption cannot be used when employees pay for items with their own funds (cash, check, or personal credit card) even if they will be reimbursed by the University. The penalty for improper use of the University’s tax exemption may be a fine to the user in the amount of $100 per transaction.

2.     Bring an ST3 Certificate of Exemption form

    • The ST3 form is the Minnesota Department of Revenue Certificate of Exemption. You can download and print a copy of the certificate that is signed by the University Tax Director by accessing the form on the University of Minnesota Tax Management Office website at Fill in the seller name and address as appropriate.
    • If you are making a purchase by phone, you can fax or e-mail a copy of the exemption certificate to the retailer, or you can direct them to our website where they can access a copy.

3.     Check for exemption numbers, accounts, or special procedures for some popular retailers

    • Some retailers have their own additional processes for verifying tax exempt sales. Please check the Tax Department website for a current list of retailers that have assigned the University customer codes or other important numbers, or who require specific procedures to be followed. Retailers with special procedures are found on the website and include: Best Buy, Cub Foods, Dell, MicroCenter, Office Depot, and Office Max.

4.     Inform the cashier of your tax exempt status

    • Remember to inform the cashier of your tax status before beginning your sale. If some of your items are exempt from tax, such as plates and napkins, and some are subject to tax, such as soft drinks, separate the items and inform the cashier that some items are taxable. If you present the ST3 for all items but only some may be purchased exempt, you are improperly using the University’s exemption and could be subject to a personal fine.
    • Also, please note that some retailers will require that you visit the service desk before making an exempt purchase. You may want to check with the service desk before you start shopping if you have not previously made exempt purchases at that store.

Other Tax Assessments

Minnesota or federal excise taxes or other regulatory assessments may apply to certain purchases, even though the University is exempt from Minnesota sales tax. Examples of such purchases include airline tickets and fuel for on-road use of motorized vehicles. Be aware of the distinction between "sales tax" and "excise tax" or "assessment." The ST3 is an exemption certificate related to Minnesota sales tax.

Need help?

Please contact the University of Minnesota Tax Management Office with questions at [email protected] or (612) 624-1053 or consult the tax website.