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Collecting Sales Tax

General Overview of Sales Tax Collection Requirements

While Cornell is exempt from paying sales tax on its purchases in many states (see the Paying Sales Tax page), Cornell is generally treated as a for-profit vendor for sales tax collection purposes. Sales taxes are generally imposed on the sale of tangible goods and, in some state or local jurisdictions, also on certain services. Sales tax must be collected in the state where the good or service is delivered. The sales tax collection rules and rates vary by state and locality, so it is imperative that if a Cornell employee, department, or unit is selling any goods or services, that they contact DFA to advise on the need to collect sales taxes and to confirm the proper rate of tax to collect.

Cornell must be registered for and collecting sales tax in any state where Cornell has a physical presence. A physical presence is generally defined as the presence of Cornell employees or property. As of March 2013, Cornell is registered for, collecting, and remitting sales tax in the following states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Washington

If you plan to make any sales into any of the above states, you need to consult with DFA. Further, Cornell is constantly evaluating the need to register for sales tax in other states. As such, this list is only provided as a high-level reference and will be updated periodically. If a Cornell employee, department, or unit is selling goods or services to any state, including one not listed above, please contact DFA at uco-tax@cornell.edu to confirm whether sales tax must be collected.

Exemptions Claimed by Our Customers

Many states exempt certain types of businesses or activities from sales tax. For example, states generally only require sales tax to be collected on the final sale of a good to the ultimate consumer. As such, if we sell goods to another party who, in-turn, resells the good, the purchaser may seek to claim what is known as a resale exemption. Generally, in order to claim an exemption from tax for resale or similar exemption (e.g., purchases by a nonprofit, purchases by a manufacturer for use in manufacturing), the customer must provide Cornell with a properly complete sales tax exemption certificate. These certificates must be retained on file. If any employee, unit, or department selling goods or services receives an exemption certificate from a customer, a copy should be retained in your files and a copy should be e-mailed to uco-tax@cornell.edu.