Sales Tax Exemption
Q. How do I apply for sales tax exemption card?
A. Complete the sales tax exemption card request using the Department’s E-Government Program. Allow five to seven business days for the tax cards to be received in the mail.
Q. Is there anything else I must do to obtain sales tax exemption?
A. As a general rule, presentation of a sales tax exemption card should be enough to obtain point-of-sale exemption from sales and use taxes throughout the United States. However, in certain states, missions and their members may be asked to complete a form at the time of purchase. In the state of New York, missions and their members are required to complete the form DTF-950 (Certificate of Sales Tax Exemption for Diplomatic Missions & Personnel”). In addition, twenty-three states participate in the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement which requires foreign missions and their members to complete a Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement–Certificate of Exemption at the time of purchase. The states participating in the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Click here for a copy of the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement–Certificate of Exemption.
Q. At what age can a dependent child receive a tax exemption card?
A. Dependent children of a mission member eligible for tax exemption privileges may obtain a tax exemption card at the age of eighteen. This card will be valid until the individual's twenty-first birthday. For dependent children of a mission member eligible for tax exemption who are accredited by the Office of the Chief of Protocol as a “justified student”, the tax exemption card will be valid until their twenty-third birthday.
Q. I have lost my tax exempt card, what do I have to do to get another card?
A. In the event of a lost or stolen tax exemption card, the mission must submit a diplomatic note to OFM explaining when and where the card in question was lost or stolen, along with a request for a replacement card through the E-Government Program, and wait 30 days to allow for the lost or stolen card to be returned.
Gasoline Tax Exemption
Q: How do I apply for exemption from taxes on gasoline?
A: Obtain and complete a gasoline business/fleet credit card application from one or more of the participating oil companies. For a list of participating oil companies, click here. Using the Department’s E-Government Program, complete a Request for Exemption from Gasoline Taxes for each oil company credit card application. The oil companies will not accept credit card applications for diplomatic gasoline tax exemption unless they are accompanied by documentation provided directly from OFM. Please click here for additional information concerning exemption from taxes on gasoline purchases.
Q. How long does it take to receive the tax exempt gasoline credit cards?
A. Foreign missions and their eligible members should receive tax exempt credit cards within approximately 2 months from the date the applications were submitted to OFM.
Q. How many credit cards can a mission receive for a mission gasoline account? How many credit cards can an individual receive for a personal gasoline account?
A. We know that ExxonMobil and Shell will issue any number of cards that the mission requests for a mission account, but will issue only one credit card to an individual with a personal account. We will try to request the same information from the other gasoline companies. We have learned that one way a principal and a dependent can share the same account is by ordering multiple Speedpass devices from ExxonMobil.
Q. What is the credit limit for mission and personal gasoline accounts?
A. We have this information for both ExxonMobil and Shell: the credit limit is $2500 per mission account and $500 per personal account. Credit line increases are not offered. We will try to request the same information from the other gasoline companies.
Q: I’ve tried using my Shell or Exxon card at the gas pump but the transaction is being denied. What should I do if Shell or Exxon places a hold on my account?
A: You will often become aware that a hold has been placed on your account in one of two ways: 1) if you swipe your credit card at the pump and the transaction is denied; or 2) if Exxon or Shell contacts you and informs you that it has put a hold on your account. You should email us at OFMTaxCustoms@state.gov to ask about the hold and provide OFM with your name, PID, account #, current residence address, and contact information. OFM will then reach out to Exxon or Shell to find out why your account is blocked and will contact you with additional information.
Q: What is the difference between an Exxon Business (Citi) and an Exxon Fleet (WEX) credit card?
A: Exxon Business (Citi) and Exxon Fleet (WEX) credit cards can both be used to purchase gasoline at Exxon service stations. Using either of these cards, foreign missions and mission members can receive rebate rewards on their gasoline purchases. The following are the main differences between the Exxon Business (Citi) credit card and the Exxon Fleet (WEX) credit card:
Q: What can a mission do if the point of contact for a mission gasoline account is departing his or her assignment?
A: If the existing point of contact has not yet been terminated: the mission should re-submit a request for gasoline tax exemption under the new point of contact through the e-Government system. A new gasoline credit card application is not required. The mission, however, should attach a letter providing the new contact’s name and phone number and the mission’s existing gasoline account number and billing address.
Q: Can I view and pay my gasoline credit card bills online?
A: An online e-billing option is available for Exxon Business (Citi), Exxon Fleet (WEX), BP Business (WEX), and Chevron and Texaco Business (WEX) fuel credit cards. This e-billing option allows foreign missions and their members to view and pay gasoline statements online. To sign up for this billing option, contact the gasoline company’s customer service department.
Utility Tax Exemption
Q: How do I obtain exemption from taxes on utilities?
A: Using the Department’s E-Government Program, complete a Request for Exemption from Utility Taxes for each utility company to which a request is being made. If more than one account is held with a company (for example, with telephone service providers each phone line/number is a separate account) complete one request for each account. Please click here for additional information concerning exemption from taxes imposed on utility services.
Q. How long does it take for utility tax exemptions to take effect?
A. It may take 2-3 billing cycles for this exemption to take effect.
Q: There is more than one company listed on my electricity bill, and I am only seeing a tax exemption for one of the companies. How can I get an exemption for the taxes charged by the other company?
A: If there is more than one company on your electricity bill – if, for example, your electricity is supplied by a third party – you must submit a separate utility tax exemption application for each company through the E-Gov system.
Q: Can I receive utility tax exemption on my pre-paid cellular phone service?
A: The nature of pre-paid cellular phone service may not allow for utility tax exemption through the e-Gov system. Utility vendors have different billing mechanisms in place for pre-paid cellular phone service. Foreign missions and their members should email OFMTaxCustoms@state.gov explaining the type of pre-paid service they have and including a monthly invoice and account number, if available. OFM will contact the vendor to determine whether a tax exemption option is available, and if so, how to obtain it.
Q. How can I receive the tax exemption for Internet purchases?
A. The nature of Internet purchases does not allow for the presentation of diplomatic tax exemption card. Therefore, OFM advises those eligible for tax exemption privileges that such relief cannot be granted on purchases made through an Internet website. OFM will not provide any assistance to foreign missions or their members in obtaining an exemption or reimbursement of taxes charges on purchases made through the Internet.
Airline Tax Exemption
Q. How do I receive the tax exemption on airline tickets?
A. There are no taxes imposed on the purchase of domestic airline tickets in the United States. Individuals who wish to claim exemption from taxes imposed on international airline tickets acquired in the United States must present to a ticketing agent evidence of the traveler’s A or G visa. Please click here for additional information concerning this topic.
Q: Why are diplomats/card holders allowed to receive tax exemption in the US?
A: Tax exemption privileges for foreign diplomats, consular officers, and staff members are generally based on two treaties: the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. These treaties have been ratified by the United States and are the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the Constitution. Not all foreign missions and their personnel are entitled to tax exemption. This privilege is based on reciprocity and not all foreign countries grant such privileges to U.S. Embassies and their personnel. Please carefully review the tax exempt card which details the benefits to be offered.
Q: What forms of payment are the individuals using tax exemption cards allowed to use?
A: For Personal Tax Exemption Cards, the person whose name and photo appear may pay with cash, credit cards or personal checks in the name of the bearer of the personal tax exemption card. Personal Tax Exemption Cards are non-transferable. Only the person whose photo appears on the front side of the card is permitted to use it.
For Mission Tax Exemption Cards that are issued to designated representatives of embassies, consulates, and international organizations for use when making official purchases, all purchases must be made in the name of the mission and paid for by either a mission check, mission credit card, or wire transfer. Cash, credit cards or personal checks in the name of the bearer of the mission tax exemption card cannot be used as payment. The person whose name and photo appear on the card is the mission’s point of contact and is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the exemption. This individual does not need to be present when purchases are made in the name of the mission.
Q: How will I file my taxes if a person with a tax exemption card comes into my business?
A: All questions concerning bookkeeping requirements should be directed to the appropriate city or state revenue/tax authority.
Q: Am I allowed to keep records of the persons with tax exemption cards?
A: Yes. In fact, all vendors are encouraged to keep for their records a copy of the tax exemption card and a copy of the receipt for the tax-exempt transaction.
Q: Who can I call if I have questions about the tax exemption card program, or a particular tax exemption card that I am presented with?
A: Questions concerning the authenticity of a particular card, or the exact nature of the tax exemption afforded to the card holder, may be directed to (202) 895-3500, ext. 2 between 8am and 5pm EST (Monday - Friday). Questions may also be emailed to OFMTaxCustoms@state.gov. Such questions may also be directed to OFM’s Regional Offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Please click here for contact information for these offices.