Using Internet Retailers (such as Amazon)
Beginning February 1, 2015, internet retailers began collecting sales tax in Illinois. Northwestern University is a private, not for profit, coeducational institution that is exempt from sales tax. This change in Illinois law has caused many questions and heightened the need to put better controls in place regarding the use of Amazon and other internet retailers.
Use of membership clubs and setting up on-line accounts like Amazon is generally discouraged, purchases over the internet should be minimized, and individuals are not to advance their own personal funds to purchase supplies and services on behalf of Northwestern. Cardholders should confirm whether the product or service needed is available from a Northwestern Preferred Vendor or could be purchased through iBuyNU before using Amazon.
Background on Amazon.com
We acknowledge that there are times when Amazon may be the best option for hard to find items or items not available from Preferred Vendors. However, Amazon has historically not made it easy to establish an enterprise level relationship to support business to business transactions and has not positioned itself to qualify as a Preferred Vendor at Northwestern or at any of our peers. They also are often not the low cost provider for the item needed.
To continue using Amazon for occasional Northwestern purchases, please note the following:
- Departments/schools can no longer have an account with Amazon that is used for both personal purchases and business purchases.
- Existing accounts must be either cancelled or revert back to personal accounts (in which case you will need to remove the Northwestern tax exempt information, corporate card information, Northwestern ship to address, and Northwestern e-mail address from the account).
- Departments/schools can send a request to the Corporate Card Office to set up a new business account under the primary Northwestern Amazon account. Please note the following:
- An official Northwestern ship to address must to be used for deliveries.
- An official Northwestern corporate card must be used for payment. If you do not currently have a card, work with your department and the Corporate Card Office to obtain one.
- Tax exempt information will be provided in a follow up enrollment email.
- If you have a prime account for personal use, you may share it with your new business account, however Northwestern will not pay for the membership cost.
- For more information on using Amazon for occasional Northwestern purchases, please see the Amazon Setup Procedures for Corporate Card Users.
- As with all purchases, use of personal funds should not be used to purchase from Amazon. Exceptions will be made on a limited basis. Please note that sales tax paid will not be reimbursed.
Northwestern's tax exempt status can only be used for authorized University business purposes. Personal or other unauthorized use may result in disciplinary action and could affect our tax exempt status.