Equipment, Art, and Library Books

All other capital assets with a unit cost (including ancillary costs) of $5,000 or greater, or collections with a total cost of $5,000 or greater, unless otherwise noted, should be capitalized. 

Special Considerations


The cost of computers includes the tower, human interface devices, and operating system, and is capitalized if the sum of these components equals $5,000 or more.

Equipment Acquisitions and Fabrications Exempt from Sales Tax

Equipment having a life expectancy of greater than one year and a unit cost of $5,000 or more that is purchased for basic and applied research in the sciences and engineering is, to the extent permitted by law, exempt from sales tax. Also exempt are designing, developing, or testing prototypes, processes, or new products. This exemption includes research and development of computer software that is embedded in or an integral part of the prototype or new product or that is required for exempt machinery or equipment to function effectively.


All software is expensed except for major system purchases ($1,000,000 or more per package). These purchases are capitalized as determined by Financial Services. Inventory control of all other software is left to the discretion of the department having custody.

Library Books

Books acquired for use in official university libraries are capitalized at cost or fair market value (depending on whether purchased or donated). Inventory and control are the responsibility of the individual library.

Non-library books, films, and related materials are coded as materials and supplies purchases.

Art Objects, Displays, and Museum Acquisitions

University-owned art objects, displays, and museum acquisitions are capitalized at cost or fair market value (depending on whether they are purchased or donated) and have a life expectancy greater than one year or more and a unit cost of $5,000 or more.

Agency Fund Accounts

For agency fund cost center/programs, no property purchases may be coded as capital purchases (capital spend categories).

Equipment purchases made from agency fund accounts are not considered University assets and therefore should not be coded as capital and should not be tagged with UW property control numbers.

H.   Certificates of Participation (COP)

All capital assets acquired with Certificates of Participation (COP) should be capitalized.