Sales Tax Exemption Certificates and Online Sellers

October 17, 2019

Recent changes to Massachusetts sales tax regulations may affect Harvard purchasers in some situations. Massachusetts now requires “out-of-state remote sellers and marketplace facilitators” – online sellers and marketplaces (like Amazon and eBay) that don’t have a physical presence in Massachusetts to collect sales tax on sales made to purchasers in the state. This means that more out-of-state online sellers might attempt to charge Harvard sales tax, or ask for Harvard’s sales tax exemption certificates. As a reminder, you can access Harvard’s sales tax exemption certificates at the following links (Harvard Key required):

For each tax-exempt purchase, the vendor will request a completed ST-5. The ST-5 available at the above link already has Part 1 completed. The remaining parts of the ST-5 will need to be completed by the purchasing department. Some vendors may also require Part 2 (Agent Information) to be completed by the purchasing department; in this case, the purchasing department can complete and sign Part 2 as the Agent. If the purchasing department intends to make multiple purchases from the same vendor, then the purchasing department should inquire if the vendor will take a “blanket certificate.” If not, then the purchasing department will need to itemize the goods purchased or attach detailed receipts on Part 4 for every purchase. Departments should attach a copy of the ST-2 to the completed ST-5 provided to the vendor.

Note that HCOMarketplace suppliers already have Harvard’s exempt status on record for all purchases made through that Marketplace.

Please feel free to forward this information to others as needed. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of the Controller Tax team at