Foreign Diplomat Tax Exemption Cards

NOTE: This article replaces the article titled "New Foreign Diplomat Tax Exemption Card Design!" dated April 8, 2013.

Purchases by certain foreign officials are exempt from Wisconsin sales or use tax, as provided by federal law. Not all foreign officials are entitled to tax exemption, because this privilege is based on reciprocity the Department of State has with other foreign missions. The Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions, issues a Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card to qualifying foreign officials. Diplomatic Tax Exemption Cards may also be issued by the American Institute in Taiwan.

Note:Diplomatic Tax Exemption Cards MAY NOT be used to claim exemption from Wisconsin sales and use tax on purchases, leases, or rentals of motor vehicles. For this purpose, "motor vehicles" includes, but is not limited to, automobiles, motorcycles, boats, and aircraft.

Special rules apply in the case of motor vehicles, and require a tax exemption letter from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Foreign Missions.

Additional information is available in an article titled "Exempt Sales of Motor Vehicles to Foreign Missions," in Wisconsin Tax Bulletin #178 on page 6, and at the Office of Foreign Mission's website.

Diplomat Tax Exemption Card front

The exemption cards incorporate state of the art security features to defeat attempts to fraudulently manufacture counterfeit cards. One of these features is the use of animal images to convey an immediate visual cue of the level of exemption the cardholder is authorized to receive. These animals (owl, eagle, buffalo, and deer) convey the following general information concerning the level of tax exemption authorized by a particular Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card:

  • Owl -This image signifies that such cards are intended to be used solely in connection with official purchases and that the cardholder/mission is eligible for exemption from sales, occupancy, restaurant/meal, and other taxes without restriction.
  • Buffalo - This image signifies that such cards are intended to be used solely in connection with official purchases and that the cardholder/mission's eligibility for exemption from sales, occupancy, restaurant/meal, and other taxes is subject to some degree of restriction. For example, such cards may read "EXEMPT FROM TAX ON PURCHASES OVER $300; NOT VALID AT HOTELS."
  • Eagle - This image signifies that such cards are intended to be used solely in connection with personal purchases and that the cardholder is eligible for exemption from sales, occupancy, restaurant/meal, and other taxes without restriction.
  • Deer - This image signifies that such cards are intended to be used solely in connection with personal purchases and that the cardholder's eligibility for exemption from sales, occupancy, restaurant/meal, and other similar taxes is subject to some degree of restriction. For example, such cards may read "EXEMPT FROM TAX ON PURCHASES OVER $150; NOT EXEMPT FOR HOTELS, RESTAURANTS, & SERVICES."

The following is an image of a Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card with the image of an eagle, which exempts the bearer from all state and local taxes on personal purchases, without restriction:

 

The following is an image of the back of a Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card, which exempts the bearer from certain state and local taxes that identifies the restrictions on the back of the card:

Diplomat Tax Exemption Card back 

The following is an image of a Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card that is issued by the American Institute in Taiwan, rather than the United States Department of State:

Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card front 

Retailers making exempt sales to foreign officials must keep a record of the personal identification number on the official's Diplomatic Tax Exemption Card as proof that the sales are exempt from Wisconsin sales and use taxes. Retailers may verify the tax-exempt status of foreign officials by emailing the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) at OFMTaxCustoms@state.gov. The validity of a card may also be verified by calling the phone number on the back of the tax exemption card. Note: OFM contact information updated November 21, 2016.

January 20, 2015