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What object code should I use to order equipment?

Object/sub-object codes are used in expenditure classifications. The term applies to the type of the article purchased or the service obtained. See Equipment Acquisitions for object codes used to purchase equipment. For more detailed descriptions of these codes, please click on the individual code or visit Object Codes for Expenditures.

What does Federal or Agency titled mean?

If a piece of equipment is Federal or Agency titled, it is owned by the Federal Government or the sponsoring Agency. It is not titled/owned by the University and has special restrictions. The title/ownership of equipment is usually spelled out in the award documentation.

We received some equipment as a gift. How should I handle it?

If the equipment has a current fair market value of $5,000 or more and a life expectancy of at least one year, enter the equipment information into the OASIS system:
Status 'T'
Requisition number '000000'
Acquisition method 'GF'
You will also need to complete a Gift Transmittal Form and submit it to Gift Processing, Box 359505. This will ensure proper reporting.

Can I purchase equipment for the Fellow to keep on a Fellowship (80 series) budget using eProcurement, ProCard, or a check request?

Yes.  Equipment for the fellow to keep may be purchased on a fellowship budget using any one of the University's purchasing methods, as long as supporting documentation is provided (award documentation or an email from the sponsor) stating the equipment may become the personal property of the Fellow.  Please code these equipment items as 05-40 Non-inventorial Equipment.

What is the threshold for: a) Equipment, b) Machinery & Equipment (M&E) purchases, and c) Procurement Card Equipment Purchases?

a. Tangible assets acquired through donation, gift, purchase, loan, capital lease, or self-construction, with a life expectancy of more than one year and a total acquisition cost of $5,000 or more (total purchase price including shipping, handling, tax, etc.) should be assigned an appropriate University equipment identification tag and inventoried.
b. Equipment purchased for certain University research and development activities may qualify for a sales tax exemption allowed under RCW 82.08.02565, (Revised Code of Washington - compilation of Washington State laws in force) known as the Machinery and Equipment Tax Exemption, or M&E Exemption. Purchases must have an acquisition cost of $200 or more to be considered, along with other criteria, for an M&E exemption. Please see the University's Machinery and Equipment (M&E) Sales Tax Exemption for additional information
c. A ProCard purchase is an order placed where the payment mechanism is the University's official ProCurement Card. Purchases made via ProCard must have an acquisition cost of no more than $3,500 (total purchase price including shipping, handling, tax, etc.). At times it might be necessary to request a single transaction limit increase in order to make a ProCard purchase over $3,500. Instructions on how to request an increase can be found here.

I'm purchasing a computer. Do I have to purchase each piece separately?

Computer components purchased on the same requisition can be purchased as a system and coded as equipment according to total cost (CPU, monitor, mouse, key board, etc.)

Who determines if an item is titled to the UW or to the sponsor?

Equipment associated with a grant or contract can be designated as University owned equipment, or agency owned equipment. The ownership of equipment is usually spelled out in the documentation that accompanies a negotiated grant or contract. OSP (Office of Sponsored Programs) negotiates and processes award documents. OSP will determine the appropriate ownership of equipment associated with a particular grant or contract. For questions regarding the determination of equipment ownership, OSP can be reached at:, or 206.543.4043

I've heard that all equipment purchased on grants and contracts is exempt from Indirect Cost. Is that true?

It depends on the budget. Please look at the indirect cost section of your budget profile in MyFD to find the 'Indirect Cost Actual Base' (it is the 3rd item under Indirect Cost). If you click on the title 'Indirect Cost Actual Base', it will take you to a glossary where it lists the possible codes and the descriptions. If your code does not specifically exclude equipment, then it is not exempt.

Is it okay to purchase software and accessories for an employee's personal computer that is used for work?

Yes, however, it is important to emphasize that they'll need to return the items upon their departure from the University.

Is modular equipment inventorial?

Rarely. Only the individual pieces that are $5,000 or more are inventorial.

Our department is receiving a piece of equipment to demo before deciding if we want to purchase it. What do I need to do with it?

It depends if any money has exchanged hands.  If not (i.e. the UW is not paying anything for shipping or any sort of down payment), then nothing is necessary until a purchase requisition has been created and the items has been paid for.  There is no contractual agreement at this point.  If any sort of payment has been made related to the demo (before deciding to purchase), please contact Equipment Inventory for additional guidance.  Please note, if your department decides to purchase the item, it is important to make sure you have the appropriate receiving documentation to support receipt of the equipment.

EIO keeps nagging at me to clear a pending asset but I haven't received the item yet. What should I do?

In limited circumstances, payment may occur before an asset has been received.  This will automatically result in a pending asset for your department.  When notified of this pending asset, simply add a comment to the Other Location field of OASIS stating "Item has not been recevied."  EIO will continue to follow up with you on this pending asset during the monthly pending push but will not consider it a high priority until the item has been received.   

What is Value Added Tax? Do we need to pay it?

Check award documentation to see if VAT is or is not allowable:

For any awards from NIH or other DHHS agencies (CDC, HRSA, etc.), the VAT would not be allowed because the foreign component of those awards is significant.  VAT would need to be paid from non-sponsored funds.  See sample NIH language below:

  • Customs and Import Duties:  Allowable under grants to domestic organizations when performance will take place entirely within the United States, its possessions, or its territories, or when foreign involvement in the project is incidental to the overall grant-supported project.  Charges may include consular fees, customs surtaxes, value-added taxes, and other related charges.  Consular fees, customs surtaxes, value-added taxes, and other related charges are unallowable on foreign grants or the foreign component of a domestic grant.

The power point presentation may be found here.

Capital and Operating Lease

Can I surplus leased equipment?

No, leased equipment is technically not University property - we are only tracking it for the company we are leasing it from.

How do I determine if a lease is capital or operating?

The University automatically classifies leases as operating where the cost of documentation, accounting and disclosure, and audit support, significantly exceeds the benefit to University stakeholders. To be considered a capital lease at the University, the total value of future minimum lease payments or fair value (whichever is less) must be significant to the University and require recognition as a long-term debt in the University's annual audited financial report (as determined by Financial Reporting) and must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Lease term is greater than 75% of the equipment's estimated economic life;
  • Lease contains an option to purchase the equipment for less than fair market value;
  • Ownership of the equipment is transferred to the university at the end of the lease term; or
  • Present value of the lease payments exceeds 90% of the fair market value of the equipment.
Who should I contact if I have questions about setting up a lease for equipment?

Please contact Equipment Inventory at 206-543-4663 with general questions related to leases or Financial Reporting at 206-221-7845 to determine if the lease should be classified as capital or operating.


The policy does not allow for fabricated items that are to be delivered to an external entity or that are not University owned. How should I treat those?

If a fabricated item is to be delivered to an external entity or is not University owned, the equipment is not subject to being tagged or inventoried. Salaries, supplies, and other costs incurred in fabrications should be left in their original expenditure object code, not transferred to the 06-XX object code by JV. These costs will incur the usual indirect costs for grants and contracts. Individual parts or equipment items that fall into this category and meet the standard definition of equipment should be coded 06

All Requests to Transfer Expenditures (RTE) submitted on paper Journal Voucher (JV) must be processed through the Financial Desktop Transactions application. Is the Fabrication JV request an exception to this?

Fabrication JVs are an exception to this, though we hope to be able to process these through the Financial Desktop eventually. Currently, the Transactions application only allows for the transfer of existing expenditures. Fabrication JVs don't move existing expenditures, they create a second set of expenditure debits (05-XX, 01-XX, 03-XX, etc) and a 21-XX credit. Please see 'Note' under the Department's portion of the Procedure section of the Equipment Fabrication web page.

What should I do if we purchase a piece of equipment for a fabrication as 06-XX instead of 05-40?

The easiest way to handle this is to add cost the 06-XX asset to the fabrication and not include it in the fabrication Journal Voucher (JV) request.

Can a fabrication be broken apart?

No. A fabrication is defined as one piece of equipment that is built (fabricated) because an existing piece of equipment with the desired functionality does not exist. The fabricated item should remain together for the lifetime of the asset. The entire cost of the fabricated asset is depreciated over its useful life and the costs incurred to build the asset are excluded from indirect cost.


How do I know if the Fellowship allows equipment?

It should be explicitly stated in the copy of the Fellowship.  Please verify what is allowed before making any purchases. 

Why did Equipment Inventory reject my requisition for an 80-XXXX budget purchase and what can I do to fix it?

Any time a department orders equipment on a Fellowship (80-XXXX) budget, Equipment Inventory is required to see if the equipment is intended to stay at the UW permanently or if it is intended to be the fellow's personal property.  If the equipment is to become the fellow's personal property, please provide supporting documentation (award documentation or an email from the sponsor) stating the equipment may become the personal property of the Fellow and code the equipment as 05-40 Non-inventorial Equipment regardless of cost. If the equipment is to stay at the University, please state "Item will stay with the UW" in the comments and code as the appropriate 05-4X or 06-XX object code. 

What do I do if my department accidentally purchases something that the fellow is going to keep?

Immediately contact Equipjment Inventory at 543-4663 and we'll see what we can do to help you correct the error.

Can a department use the ProCard to purchase equipment on an 80-XXXX budget?

Yes, but they have to note that the item will remain UW property.  As a part of the ProCard approval process, EIO will check to make sure the student doesn't plan on keeping the item and will let them know to enter a note on the transaction that "This item will remain UW property.


How do I determine fair market value?

You have three options in determining fair market value (FMV) on gift equipment:
1. The donor should have that information available for you;
2. If they don't, you can go to the manufacturer's web site and look at the manufacturer's suggested retail price for the item;
3. If these first two do not work for you, contact Surplus for more assistance on determining a fair market value.

Where do I get a Gift Transmittal Form?

Please see the 'Gift Transmittals' page for the Gift Transmittal Form. Contact the University Advancement's Gift Processing unit with questions relating to the form.

What do I do if I have an inventorial gift and I don't use OASIS?

Enter the information into our UW Equipment Information Card (Web Form). When you submit this web form, the information is sent directly to Equipment Inventory and we will enter it into OASIS for you.

Surplus Property

An item has shown up in my department with a different department's inventory tag and I think we bought it from Surplus. What should I do?

Call Equipment Inventory at 543-4663. We can look the item up for you. This will provide us with its history and help us figure out how to move forward. If the item is accidentally in your area and was not a purchase from Surplus, we can contact the department of ownership to arrange for its return.

What do I do if I have an inventorial Surplus purchase and I don't use OASIS?

Enter the information into our UW Equipment Information Card (Web Form). When you submit this web form, the information is sent directly to Equipment Inventory and we will enter it into OASIS for you.

My department wants to consider buying some Surplus equipment. Where do I start?

Start by visiting Surplus Property's Purchasing and Sales website. Here you will find information on public auction dates, store hours, contact information, and parking. There's also an option to sign up for their mailing list, if interested.

Transfer In

How do I determine fair market value?

The original institution should have that information available for you in the transfer paperwork. If the original equipment cost is not included, contact Surplus for assistance.

What do I do if I have an inventorial transfer in and I don't use OASIS?

Enter the information into our UW Equipment Information Card (Web Form). When you submit this web form, the information is sent directly to Equipment Inventory and we will enter it into OASIS for you.


Where should I affix my inventory tag?

Please see Standard Tag Locations for guidance.

How do I tag an equipment item that was purchased on a 40-XXXX budget as a part of a Capital Project?

It depends on what object code was used to make the purchase.  Specific detailes related to this process can be found on the Equipment Acquisition - Capital Projects page. 

Are we required to tag items if we wish to get insurance through the University's Risk Management Office?


Physical Inventory

Is my department's inventory due this year?

Physical inventories of University-owned equipment must be completed by University departments every two years and are distributed during January. The listings are sent to the departmental inventory contacts, as listed with EIO (Equipment Inventory Office). Physical inventories of Federal-owned and Agency-owned equipment must be taken annually. Audits of the physical inventories taken by departments are performed annually by various state, federal, private, and internal auditors. Additional inventory information can be found at Physical Inventories or by contacting EIO at or (206) 543-4663

Do you offer training on the physical inventory process? If so, when?

EIO will be conducting Brown Bag lunch sessions for the 2016 Physical Inventory cycle. In addition to that, we have how-to information available on our website, and here in the FAQs.

How long should I keep my department copy of the physical inventory?

Please refer to the University of Washington's records retention policies for information (found here).

What do I do if several people work on the inventory?

When this occurs, transfer all information from your working copy (or copies) to the original inventory.

Do I have to do the inventory?

Yes. A physical inventory of Agency and Federal equipment is required yearly by federal regulations. Physical inventories of University equipment are required every two years ('biennially') by state regulation.

Why is this old asset still on my physical inventory?

Government accounting practices include accounting for the depreciation of an asset. However, the 'Total Cost' on all assets remains at the purchase price for the entire time that the item is in use by the University. We are accountable to the tax-paying public for all assets and cannot drop them off the system when they have fully depreciated. Assets are only removed from the inventory system when they are disposed through an approved disposal method.

What do I do about equipment used at home? And equipment located out of state?

You need to verify equipment used at home or out of area with a written document, such as email or a letter. When the person using the asset sends you a written confirmation, you can mark the asset as 'Located'. Keep the written verification in your inventory files for audit purposes.

I'm running behind. Can I have an extension?

No. There is no such thing as a 'due date extension'. If your inventory will be late for any reason, you need to communicate the delay and reason to Equipment Inventory. We will track this information closely and work with you in any way possible, but any inventory turned in after August 31st is Past Due and may be reported to Internal Audit.

What are these odd assets at the end of my physical inventory?

Pending assets are listed at the end of your inventory. These assets start with a 'P' and have a number such as 'P03118002'. This number is a temporary number assigned to a payment for an asset that has not been properly reported to EIO. Any pending asset represents a problem for your department and must be 'cleared' immediately. You need to find the asset, tag it, and report the model, serial number, custodian, building and room number, and date received to Equipment Inventory so that we can convert it to

Can I send it to you electronically?

Yes. Begining with the 2016 Physical Inventory cycle, we have gone electronic, and urge departments to return electronic documents to us. See the FAQs for the 2016 Physical Inventory cycle for more information.

Why am I getting multiple reports?

We run 10-digit organization (org) codes, instead of 9-digits. This means every sub-org code will have its own inventory.

Can we convert the multiple files into one file?

Multiple Excel files can be merged for ease of use; since they can be sorted by location, or custodian, large departments may especially benefit from this.

We ask that you do not merge PDFs. These are your official inventory documents. If you make your annotations on a document, or merge it after you’ve made your annotations, the information may be lost. If you send us a merged PDF, we will be required to separate it on our end and, again, changes might be lost.

How do you import the .csv file into Excel? How do you merge Excel files?

You will need to save your .csv file onto a computer or server to format it. Double click to open; select ‘save as,’ name the file (we recommend using the org code as the name), select as ‘Save as type:’ ‘Excel Workbook’ (file extension ‘.xls’), and then click the ‘Save’ button.

To Format your Excel Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on it to open.
  2. Then at the upper left hand corner between the 1 and A column, put your curser and click; this will turn the entire sheet gray.
  3. While your sheet is gray, double click on the line in between columns A and B.  This will expand your information to full view.   At this point save this file to your desktop.
  4. After saving you are ready to format and sort. If for example, you want to sort by custodian, highlight the custodian data by clicking on the letter above its column, then right click with you mouse and chose ‘format cells,’ then ‘text’ and click ‘OK.’
  5. Next highlight your data again, and at the top of your excel menu on the right side, second to last, you will see ‘AZ sort and filter;’ click on this with your data field highlighted, and click ‘A to Z’ to sort by custodian.
  6. You would repeat the above to sort by room / building.

To combine the contents of multiple spreadsheets, highlight and copy the contents of one sheet, and then paste them into the other one.

Here is the link to a how-to video showing you the various steps involved.

What is the due date – is it still August 31st?

The due date for the 2016 inventory cycle is May 31st; you will have 4½ months to complete this inventory.

Can I send back a paper copy?

No. If you are having issues with returning your inventory electronically, please contact EIO for assistance.

How do I update the fields in the PDF file?

You will first need to save your PDF to a computer or server to make annotations to it. To do this:

  1. right click on the attachment
  2. select ‘save as’
  3. choose a location
  4. click ‘save’

To Edit Your PDF Using Acrobat Reader:

  • You will need to use the ‘Add Text’ function:
  1. In the upper right hand corner, select the ‘Sign’ tab.
  2. Select ‘I Need To Sign.’
  3. Select ‘Add Text’ (next to the ‘T’); if you use this mode, you will not need to create an Adobe ID.
  4. Next to the font box is a ‘T’ with a little color box next to it; please click on that. A dropdown menu should appear, allowing you to change the color of the font. Please select red, or some other color that is dark enough to read easily but different enough from black that your marks will be easily found.
  • If information needs updating (custodian, location, tag number), please do the following:
  1. Select the ‘Highlight Text’ tool (the highlighter);
  2. Double click on the text you wish to change;
  3. On the ‘Sign’ panel, select the ‘T’ for Add Text;
  4. Write the correct information
  • Note: If there is a lot of text to add to an asset, you may also use the Sticky Note tool – again, highlight the text you wish to change, then select the Sticky Note tool from the tool bar (the yellow speech balloon); a pop up text box will appear, and you can enter text in there without typing all over the document

To Edit Your PDF Using Acrobat Pro:

You can use the same three tools as described above; the only difference will be how you access them.

  • You will need to use the ‘Add Text’ function. In the upper right hand corner, click on the tab that says ‘Comment.’
  1. There are several options; click on the plain ‘T.’
  2. You should see a box that says, ‘Add Text Comment.’ Place your pointer somewhere on the document, and click; your cursor should appear. Doing this allows you to format the text you use on your pdf.
  3. Next to the font box is a ‘T’ with a little color box next to it; please click on that. A dropdown menu should appear, allowing you to change the color of the font. Please select red, or some other color that is dark enough to read easily but different enough from black that your marks will be easily found.
  • If information needs updating (custodian, location, tag number), please do the following:
  1. Select the ‘Highlight Text’ tool (the highlighter);
  2. Double click on the text you wish to change;
  3. On the ‘Sign’ panel, select the ‘T’ for Add Text;
  4. Write the correct information
  • Note: If there is a lot of text to add to an asset, you may also use the Sticky Note tool – again, highlight the text you wish to change, then select the Sticky Note tool from the tool bar (the yellow speech balloon); a pop up text box will appear, and you can enter text in there without typing all over the document

Acrobat Pro has more functionality; if you wish to take advantage of other options under the Annotations’ menu, you can do the following:

  • The ‘T’ with the red line through it can be used to strike through incorrect/out of date information. To use this, just click on the strikethrough ‘T’, and then with your mouse highlight the word/number you wish to eliminate.
  • There is a rubber stamp in the ‘Annotations’ box. One of the stamps in there is a check mark. You can use that stamp to indicate an asset has been located, instead of typing an ‘X.’


Here is the link to a how-to video showing you all the steps above.

How do you electronically sign a PDF?

Using the ‘Add Text’ options described in the above question, you will type in your name in the appropriate field.


Here is the link to a how-to video showing you steps outlined in the previous question.

Grant and Contract Equipment

Who determines the ownership of a piece of equipment?

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and the sponsoring agency negotiate to determine the ownership of equipment.

How can I keep the equipment at the end of an award?

While submitting the closeout property report, Equipment Inventory (working with University research departments) asks the granting agency to vest title with the University. Note: Title never vests with an individual.

Please see the Post Award Fiscal Compliance page for further information.

Who submits the closing and annual reports?

Equipment Inventory prepares and submits all closing and annual reports. Occasionally, Equipment Inventory will contact the department for clarification and assistance.

Am I required to reallocate equipment expenses to all Awards that use the equipment after it is purchased?

No, you are not required to reallocate the cost of the equipment.  Most sponsors allow for equipment to be used by other Awards.  Federal regulations, in particular, allow for equipment to be used by other Awards without having to reallocate the cost or obtain sponsor approval (click here for more information).  For non-Federal Awards, review the Award requirements to determine if cost allocation is required.   Keep in mind that such cost allocations present both a high risk transaction (subject to audit) and a large administrative burden.  In most cases the cost of equipment does not need to be reallocated so ensure that there is a specific requirement to do so before reallocating the cost.  For more information click here

Personal Computer Policy

How do I determine the total cost of the computer unit?

Include the central processing unit (CPU), operating system, monitor, keyboard, mouse, desk printer (if purchased at the same time), external modem, internal and external drives, freight, video cards, RAM, and sales tax in the total cost.

How should I affix the tag?

The tag should always be affixed to the central processing unit (CPU) where it can easily be seen. We recommend placing the tag on the front of the CPU because it is the most visible location and makes the inventory process easier for the departmental inventory contact.


Can we sell or donate equipment to a non-profit or outside entity?

Yes - however, there are many considerations that come in to play with these types of transfers.  Please see process guidance at External Transfer.

When will my items for surplus be picked up?

You schedule your transportation and pick ups through the Surplus Property Office. (The Equipment Inventory Office is responsible only for processing the forms and removing the items from your inventory.)

Where do I send the Property Activity Request - Form 1024?

Our preferred method of receipt is electronic to, but if you need to send by campus mail, Equipment Inventory's box number is 354966. You should retain a copy for your records as well.  An electronic form can be found on our Equipment Forms webpage.

How long am I required to keep our department copy of the Property Activity Request - Form 1024?

Six years.

Can I toss damaged or broken items in the trash?

No, all items are to be forwarded to the Surplus Property Office for disposal.

Can an employee buy equipment directly from the department?

No, as described by WAC 236-48-198, surplus property available for disposal under the provisions of RCW 43.19.1919 shall not be sold to state elected officials, officers or employees, except at public sale. Public sales are held through the Surplus Property Office.

Sole Exception: Under certain circumstances it is possible for employees to buy their old work cell phones. Please see Surplus property’s web site to see if you might qualify.


A piece of our equipment has been stolen. What should the department do?

Please see 'Lost/Stolen Equipment' on the 'Disposals' page.

We received a damaged piece of equipment. What do we need to do to return the item to the vendor?

Please see the procedure on the 'Return to Vendor' page.

How do we determine funding source?

The revenue source code tells the funding source of an expenditure. If it is 01 through 60, then the expenditure was federally funded. If it's 00 or 61 through 99, then the expenditure was state funded (this includes start up funds and anything not federal/agency).

Can we transfer equipment to another State of Washington agency?

Yes, however, there are many considerations that come in to play with these types of transfers.  Please see process guidance on our External Transfers page

How do I dispose of equipment purchased on a Federal Award?

Please visit the Post Award Fiscal Compliance page for information on disposing of these assets.

Intangible Assets (GASB 51)

Why is the University changing the object codes for software?

The University is subject to accounting standards developed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. In June 2007 the board issued standard number 51, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Intangible Assets that is effective as of July 1, 2009. Failure to comply with the accounting standard could result in a unfavorable audit opinion by auditors. This would adversely impact the University's reputation with legislators, grantors, donors and creditors.

What is an Intangible Asset?

Intangible assets are capital assets that have the following characteristics:
Lack physical substance
They are not financial instruments such as: cash, investments and receivables
Initial useful life greater than 1 year
Examples: easements, water rights, patents, trademarks, computer software (not the transmission media, just the programming)

Why is software that costs less than $1 million not capitalized?

In discussions with the State Office of Financial Management and auditors it was determined that $1 million was the appropriate capitalization threshold for these assets. This balances the benefit of tracking the assets with the cost of tracking the assets. For example, to arrive at the cost of software generated by University personnel it would be necessary for employees to track the time spent in development of an approved project. Costs incurred prior to project approval and for program implementation would have to be expensed. Departments would be required to keep detailed records of project activity to support the asset balances that would be subject to audit.

My recharge rate included an inventory software item that was subsequently deleted as a result of GASB 51.

For questions related to the recharge rate, please contact MAA  - Recharge and Cost Center Accounting



What is the difference between University depreciation and “recharge/cost center depreciation”?    

University Depreciation - The University has a $5,000 capitalization threshold and therefore depreciates all equipment over $5,000.  The University’s fixed asset system, OASIS, calculates these “official” depreciation amounts which are used in the University’s financial statements, State reporting, and the F&A process.  These depreciation figures are recorded at a high level on an annual basis and are not posted to the individual departmental budgets.

Recharge/Cost Center Deprecation - Recharge Centers have a $5,000 threshold for cost center depreciation purposes only.  This depreciation is used for internal calculations for cost recovery and compliance.  Equipment purchases for recharge centers also follow the University’s standard equipment object coding (i.e. if the item is $5,000 or more, it needs to be coded as the proper 06-XX object code).  See below:

  • Equipment $5,000 or more:  Recharge centers are not allowed to recover the full cost of capital equipment costing $5,000 or more within one fiscal year.  As a result, all capital assets purchased in a recharge center that cost $5,000 or more cannot be purchased on the recharge center’s operating budget.  These purchases are most commonly purchased on the equipment reserve budget.  Cost centers recover this cost through the cost recovery method of “cost center depreciation” account code 15-01.  This account code is only used for internal purposes. 
  • Equipment less than $5,000:  All capital equipment costing less than $5,000 can be fully expensed during the year they are purchased, as it relates to recharge center costing only.  In order to recover this expense in the cost center rates, the items must be purchased on the operating budget.  The UW classification and rules relating to equipment still apply. 

M&E Acquisitions

What is the threshold for equipment purchased under the M&E Tax Exemption?

The threshold for the M&E Tax Exemption is $200. We are not required under the RCW to use the UW's capitalization threshold of $5,000. The equipment:

  • Must have a useful life of more than one year
  • Must be directly used more than 50% of its useful life on qualifying research; and
  • Must have an acquisition cost of more than $200

Note:  Add costs to existing pieces of M&E qualifying equipment can also qualify for the exemption, even if they are under $200.

Can I apply for the M&E Tax Exemption after a purchase has been paid?

No. The exemption as stated in the law is for 'new purchases' only. M&E Exemption must be requested and approved prior to purchase. The University does not retroactively allow purchases to qualify.

I forgot to use the M&E Tax Exemption object code until after the requisition was released to the Buyer. Can I still claim the exemption?

Yes, but the department will need to cancel the current purchase requisition and re-enter a new purchase requisition using the correct object code(s).

Can I purchase an M&E equipment item using the ProCard?

No. Due to compliance issues, M&E purchases cannot be purchased using the ProCard. 

Is there a way for APL to use the M&E exemption when purchasing a sea glider from Oceanography?

Yes.  APL should complete an M&E Certificate and send an electronic copy to the Equipment Inventory Office (EIO).  Since this purchase doesn't flow through one of the University's purchasing systems, APL needs to include the M&E Statement on the certificate for audit documentation purposes. 

Object Codes

What object code should I use to order M&E equipment?

Please see M&E Object Codes section.

M&E Statement

What is an example of an appropriate M&E statement?

If it is deemed that an equipment purchase would qualify for the M&E exemption, a statement detailing the type of research to be performed and the desired outcome, is required. Please see examples of acceptable and unacceptable statements on our M&E Statement Examples web page.

What if there's not enough room for my M&E statement in the comments section of eProcurement?

Please start your comment in the M&E Statement box. If you can't make it fit (which is preferred), then continue it into the comments section of the individual item so we can see the whole comment while editing the line item.

Machinery & Equipment

My vendor is requesting a paper copy of the M&E Exemption Certificate. Where can I find one?

A pre-populated M&E Certificate is available on Equipment Inventory's Forms webpage. As long as the order has gone through one of the UWs purchasing systems as M&E (so that the appropriate audit trail is collected), it is okay to complete the pre-populated form and send to the vendor. We recommend you reference the PO number next to the vendor name.

M&E Qualification

Why does my portable microscope qualify for the exemption but not my portable laptop?

Early in the University's adoption of the M&E Exemption, we learned that laptops and other portable computing equipment items would probably not qualify for the exemption under audit. This is due to the items being extremely portable as well as having the ability to be used for many different functions outside of research. To reduce the University's risk under audit, we simply don't allow these items to be purchased under the M&E Exemption.

Does software qualify for the M&E Exemption?

Yes, Definition (15) of RCW 82.63.010 specifically includes software. It states: 'Qualified machinery and equipment' includes: Computers; software; data processing equipment...

Do maintenance agreements and warranties qualify for the M&E Exemption?

No for warranties, yes for maintenance agreements. The DOR issued a special notice that specifically calls out warranties as being taxable even if the property is exempt. If the warranty is included in the cost of the total sales price and can't be broken out separately, then it won't be subject to tax because it is considered part of the underlying price. If it is broken out separately, then it is taxable.

Maintenance agreements separate from warranties qualify for tax exemption.

You can still include the first year of a warranty into the total cost of an M&E qualifying piece of equipment, just use the equivalent non-M&E object code for the warranty portion of the purchase (e.g. use 06-91 for the warranty if the equipment is being purchased as 06-93).

Do labor and repair costs qualify for the M&E Exemption?

Yes, please use object code 05-41 for the expenses.

Do replacement parts qualify for the M&E Exemption?

Yes, please use object code 05-41 for the expenses.

We are ordering multiple items under $200 from different vendors. These items will be fabricated together to create one piece of equipment valued at over $200. Can orders for these multiple items under $200 be purchased using 05-41 (M&E)?

Yes, these items can be purchased as 05-41 due to the fabricated item qualifying for the M&E Exemption.  The department will need to provide a comment stating that the items are going into a fabrication and also provide the fabrication tag number.

Can orders from multiple vendors (under $200) each be purchased as M&E if they are going to be add-costed to an existing M&E asset?

Yes. Allowing this is consistent with how we treat components of a fabrication that are under $200 and also aligns with the Equipment Inventory Office's System Policy.

Please include comments to this effect on the requisition.


Do consumables, such as oil and gas, qualify for the M&E Exemption?

No. The law does not extend the exemption to consumables.

Do costs related to loaned equipment (Loaned to the UW from another institution) qualify for the M&E Exemption? Specifically, shipping and installation?

EIO consulted with the Tax Office on this question. Shipping on loaned equipment is okay to code as M&E tax exempt. The reason for this is that shipping or transportation services bought as a stand-alone purchase are not subject to sales tax. Since there is no underlying cost or sales price (to the University) for a loaned piece of equipment, shipping costs would be considered stand-alone and not subject to sales tax anyway. These costs should be coded 05-41.

Installation costs, on the other hand, are more ambiguous from a tax standpoint. Since the RCW and WACs related to the M&E Exemption do not specifically discuss loaned equipment, the University does not allow installation on a loaned piece of equipment to qualify for the M&E Exemption.

Can add costs qualify for the M&E Exemption?

Yes.  Add costs to existing pieces of M&E qualifying equipment can qualify for the exemption, even if they are under $200.

Does laboratory furniture qualify for the M&E exemption?

Yes. Excise Tax Advisory 3127.2009 states, “a laboratory table…integral to an R&D operation,” as well as “a chair used in a laboratory workstation…integral to an R&D operation” both would qualify for the exemption. It specifically notes that furniture not used directly in R&D work is not considered integral and does not qualify.

Do Federally titled equipment purchases qualify for the M&E Exemption?

Yes.  The exemption applies to both "sales to" and "use by" a public research institution of machinery and equipment used primarily in a research and development operation." 

I am purchasing a welder to do some work on our department's fabricated equipment. The fabricated equipment is M&E eligible; is the welder?

No. If the welder is not going to be part of the final fabricated piece, it does not qualify. All M&E Exempt equipment must be used directly on research at least 50% of the time.

New Threshold - Threshold Change (General)

New Threshold - What is the change?

Historically, the UW has defined capital equipment as tangible property (other than land, buildings, improvements other than buildings, or infrastructure) with a unit cost of $2,000 or more (including ancillary costs) used to conduct UW instruction, research and public service with a useful life of more than one year.

Effective July 1, 2016, the unit cost threshold will increase to $5,000.

Where can I find additional information?

A webpage was created on Equipment Inventory Office’s (EIO) website for information specific to the equipment threshold change.  Visit the webpage periodically, we will continue to post information as it becomes available.    


Why is the UW making this change? What types of assets are affected?

Over 40,000 of UW’s assets fall between $2,000 and $4,999.  A full costing study of the administrative burden of maintaining a physical inventory for these 40,000 assets revealed that the cost and burden of maintaining the lower threshold is significant.  The driving force behind this change is a significant reduction in both faculty and staff administrative burden at all three campuses.  The change will also address threshold alignment issues between the UW and federal, State and local government.  Almost all government agencies use the $5,000 threshold and, at times, our lower threshold causes misunderstandings when dealing with these entities. 

The types of assets that will be included are: fabricated equipment, furniture and other tangible items of personal property that meet the definition of equipment above.

Art collections, sensitive inventories and special collections are not part of the change. 

New Threshold - How does UW’s threshold compare to our peer institutions?

This change will bring UW in line with the $5,000 capitalization threshold that our peer institutions have implemented.  All of our top 25 research peers now use the $5,000 threshold.