General Frequently Asked Questions
What type of entity is Carnegie Mellon University?
What does it mean to be a tax-exempt organization under IRC Section 501(c)(3)?
As a tax-exempt organization under IRC Section 501(c)(3), Carnegie Mellon is responsible for complying with appropriate federal and state corporate tax laws:
- The university is exempt from federal and state income tax on revenue from activities within its exempt mission;
- The university is exempt from state sales tax on sales and purchases within its exempt mission (where applicable);
- State sales tax is collected and remitted on sales of certain goods in the University bookstore and other “retail like” services available to the public; and
In addition, as an employer and provider of student financial aid, CMU is responsible for the correct tax withholding and reporting of the income of its faculty, staff, students, employees and independent contractors of the Internal Revenue Service and state tax authorities.
Does Carnegie Mellon University file an annual tax return?
What is a Form 990?
What is a Form 990-T?
Form 990-T is an excise tax return form used by tax-exempt organizations to report unrelated business income and calculate the unrelated business income tax liability.
Are Carnegie Mellon’s tax returns open for public inspection? If so, how are the public disclosure copies obtained?
Yes. The tax returns of the university, Form 990 and Form 990-T, are open and available for public inspection. Public disclosure copies of the returns can be viewed in the Taxation office. A copy of the public disclosure returns can be requested by contacting Taxation.
What is Unrelated Business Income?
A vendor is requesting a Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer ID Number and Certification. How do I obtain a completed CMU Form W-9?
A completed Form W-9 can be obtained by contacting Taxation.
What is an IRS Determination Letter and how can I obtain a copy of Carnegie Mellon’s IRS Determination Letter?
An IRS determination letter is a ruling issued to an organization if its application and supporting documents establish that it meets the particular requirements of the section under which it is claiming exemption. Carnegie Mellon has a Tax Determination Letter under IRC Section 501(c)(3) indicating that the IRS recognizes Carnegie Mellon as a tax-exempt, non-profit educational institution.
To obtain a copy of the university’s IRS Determination Letter, contact Taxation.
Is Carnegie Mellon exempt from the Allegheny County Alcohol Beverage Tax (Drink Tax)?
How do I obtain a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate?
What information do I need to obtain a Sales Tax Exemption Certificate?
In order for the Taxation to issue a valid Sales Tax Exemption Certificate, the following information must be provided:
- Name of Vendor where purchase was or is being made
- Complete street address of the Vendor (it is required to be printed on the certificate)
- Fax number and/or email address (if Certificate is being provided directly from Tax Department)
- Item(s) purchased for business purpose
In what states does Carnegie Mellon have sales tax exempt status?
Carnegie Mellon is exempt from sales tax in the following states only. Taxation should be contacted directly in order to receive the appropriate exemption form/certificate for each particular state. If a state is not listed below, Carnegie Mellon is either not exempt from the applicable sales tax or the state does not impose a sales tax.
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
When is the use of Carnegie Mellon's sales tax exemption appropriate?
Is a purchase considered exempt from sales tax if it is made with personal funds (i.e. personal check/credit card) when the purchase is being made for a valid business reason?
What forms need to be completed if my department/school is giving a nonqualified scholarship to an individual?
If the non-qualified scholarship payment is being paid to directly to the student, the Accounts Payable Non-Qualified Scholarship Payment Form [.pdf] must be completed.
If the non-qualified scholarship is being paid directly by the department/school on the student’s behalf, the Accounts Payable Non-Qualified Scholarship In Kind Form [.pdf] must be completed.
Where can I find the Nonqualified Scholarship forms and other tax related forms?
When does the university’s tax exempt status apply and does it apply even for purchases made by CMU Qatar or CMU Australia?
Are there any purchases where CMU is required to pay the sales tax, even though CMU has a tax exemption certificate?
Yes. CMU must pay sales tax in states where the university is not exempt from sales. A list of the states is included on the Sales Tax page. The most commonly used state that the university is not exempt from sales tax is California. Each state has its own exceptions to their sales tax laws and if you are denied the use of a sales tax exemption in a state where the university is exempt, please contact Taxation.
The university is not exempt from:
- Hotel occupancy tax/room tax
- Allegheny County Alcohol Tax; note: the rate is also 7% just like the sales tax rate
- Vehicle Rental Tax (PA and Allegheny County)
- Telecommunications taxes
- Amusement Tax
- Unrelated business income tax
- Potential foreign withholding taxes
- Value Added Tax (VAT)
If we have to pay sales tax on our purchase, should the tax expenses be included in one PO line or should the tax expense be broken out on a separate line of the PO?
Is Carnegie Mellon exempt from Value-Added Tax (VAT)?
When does a vendor receive a Form 1099-MISC?
Are vendors required to accept CMU’s Sales Tax Exemption Certificate (REV-1220)?
No, the vendor is not required to accept CMU’s Sales Tax Exemption Certificate (REV-1220). In the event that CMU is denied exemption from sales and use tax, CMU would be required to pay the tax and could petition for refund with the Board of Appeals.