Financial Administration

Sales and Use Tax (F2)

Revised: January 2, 1998

  1. Background

    On January 1, 1997, the current Wisconsin sales and use tax was equal to 5% of gross receipts. In addition, many Wisconsin counties have instituted a 0.5% county sales and use tax. Finally, a 0.1% stadium sales and use tax applies in Milwaukee, Racine, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. Current rates can generally be found in the Wisconsin Tax Bulletin, which is published quarterly by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) and can be accessed on their Web page at A list of the counties that have enacted the 0.5% local sales and use tax can be located on DOR's Web page at

  2. Constraints

    Sections 77.51 through 77.55, Wisconsin Statutes

    Section Tax 11.05 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code

    Wisconsin Department of Revenue Publication 201, Wisconsin Sales and Use Tax Information

    Wisconsin Department of Revenue Publication 204, Sales and Use Tax Information for Colleges, Universities and Vocational Schools

    Wisconsin Tax Bulletin (quarterly guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue)

  3. Policy

    1. Purchases

      Purchases by Wisconsin governmental units, including the University of Wisconsin System, are generally exempt from Wisconsin sales and use tax under s. 77.54(9a)(a), Wis. Stats,., and Section 11.05(4)(b) of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has issued the University of Wisconsin System a Certificate of Exempt Status (CES). Our CES number is ES 40706. To avoid payment of sales and use tax on purchases, UW institutions should provide vendors with this CES number.

    2. Sales of Goods and Services

      Each institution is responsible for carefully reviewing its operations and procedures to ensure that sales tax is collected where required and that sales tax payments are properly made to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Individual institutions will be held responsible for any penalties or other assessments made for failure to collect and deposit sales tax. The summary below notes the tax status of the more common sales transactions at UW institutions. Please refer to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue Publications for transactions not listed in this summary.

Taxable Goods

Food and food products sold for consumption on the premises

Food service contracts (except for those specifically excluded below)

Beer, liquor, soft drinks, gum, candies and confections

Clothing, such as UW sweatshirts and athletic apparel

Publications, pamphlets, magazines and books

Pens, pencils and miscellaneous supplies

Gifts, cards, souvenirs, etc., in hospital and union gift shops or other areas

Surplus property and scrap, including old rental equipment, except registered vehicles

Building plans and specifications, maps, etc.


Taxable Services

Admission to athletic, amusement and entertainment events, e.g., football games, plays, concerts, movies, etc.

Fees, dues, etc., paid for access or use of recreational, athletic or amusement facilities or equipment

Catering services

Reproduction, duplication and photographic services


Nontaxable goods

Food intended for home consumption

Food service contracts sold to an undergraduate, graduate or professional school student enrolled for credit at your institution who will personally consume the food items purchased

Food service contracts sold to NFL football teams

Newspapers and subscriptions to periodicals and magazines

Items sold to farmers for farming purposes

Items sold to the United States, its unincorporated agencies and instrumentalities

Items sold to other state agencies, other university departments, and elementary and secondary schools

Items sold for use outside of Wisconsin which are delivered to an agent for shipment out of the state


Nontaxable Services

Laundry services only when performed in self-service, coin-operated machines. Sales from machines using tickets or tokens are not exempt

Building space rentals

Transportation of people

University I.D. cards/debit cards, including replacement cards