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Research Equipment Partial Sales Tax Rate Exemption

Learn about the reduced sales/use tax rate on equipment purchased for research.

Effective July 1, 2014 through June 1, 2030, the California State Board of Equalization (SBOE) is offering a reduced sales/use tax rate on equipment purchased for research.

Effective January 2019 the reduced sales/use tax rate will only be applied to new purchase orders for qualifying inventorial equipment (equipment $5,000 and over) and fabrications.

The reduced rate applies to: 

  •  Machinery and equipment that will be used at least 50% of the time, and for over one year, in research and development anywhere in California. 
  • The exemption includes leased equipment, special purpose buildings, and non-inventorial equipment such as computers that are subject to the same requirements stated above.  

Please note that UC San Diego must have taken title to the equipment on or after July 1, 2014 in order for the purchase to qualify. 

The SBOE has limited the partial rate exemption to a specific purchase amount over the calendar year, which will be monitored by Business & Financial Services (BFS). 

The exemption reduces the current sales tax rate by 3.9375%, resulting in an effective rate of 3.8125% for research equipment delivered to San Diego.  The effective rate may change if equipment is delivered to a different city in California. 

Note: Suppliers need to be aware of the exemption at the time the order is placed and a separate exemption certificate needs to be obtained for each qualifying purchase 

Qualified equipment does not include:

  • Consumables with a useful life of less than 1 year
  • Tangible personal property used for instruction, administration, or general management
  • Furniture, inventory, and equipment used in the extraction process
  • Equipment used to store finished products that have completed the manufacturing, processing, refining, fabricating or recycling process

For Oracle Procurement Orders

During checkout, locate the qualifying research equipment line items. Each qualifying line item will need to be edited independently.

Click the line item you would like to edit, and scroll down to the Billing section. Scroll to the very right of the section and check the Research Equipment checkbox. All orders that have the checkbox selected will be routed to a Professional Buyer in Strategic Procurement for review. The Professional Buyer will conduct the necessary steps in order to utilize the reduced sales/use tax rate.  All invoices related to POs that have the checkbox selected will route to the Tax Advisory Services Group in Disbursements for review prior to payment. 

Please note that any PO revisions for sales/use tax do not update Oracle.  

research equipment checkbox

For Procurement Card Purchases

For suppliers collecting California sales tax: 

  • Submit detailed information about the qualifying research equipment via UC San Diego Services and Support to request an exemption certificate prior to placing the order with the supplier
    • Include the supplier's name, address, a description of the equipment and what type of research it will be used in
  • If the purchase qualifies, the Procurement Card team will reply back with an exemption certificate
  • Send the exemption certificate via fax or email to your supplier contact
  • Upload the exemption certificate to the transaction in Concur

For Bookstore Recharges

Alert the Bookstore to qualifying purchases prior to making the purchase. The Bookstore is working closely with the Tax Advisory Services Group to obtain the exemption certificates they need to honor the reduced rate.  

Retroactive claims

The SBOE allows for a retroactive refund of tax if UC San Diego identifies qualifying equipment after the time of payment.  Again, this applies only to qualifying equipment that UC San Diego took title to on or after July 1, 2014.


Find answers, request services, or get help from our team at the UC San Diego Services & Support portal.