VPF Statement - November 2013

New Resource: Learning to Buy at MIT

A new online learning resource provides an overview of how to buy products and services on behalf of MIT. The learning website covers the fundamentals of the buying process and the buying options available to members of the MIT community.

Developed by a cross-departmental team focused on enhancing the learning experience at MIT, the website is intended as a self-directed learning resource for those who are new to MIT and others who would like an overview of purchasing processes and services. It can serve as a helpful supplement to in-person training opportunities and other online training offered by VPF Sourcing and Procurement.

- Visit the Learning to Buy at MIT website >>
- Other Sourcing and Procurement training resources >>

Notice Regarding Amazon.com Sales Tax

As of November 1, 2013, Amazon.com began applying state sales tax to all purchase orders shipped to Massachusetts. In order to avoid paying the sales tax, Amazon.com now requires that purchasers upload a one-time sales tax exemption certificate to an Amazon.com profile. If the exemption certificate is not uploaded, state sales tax will be applied to each order.

What Has Prompted This Change?

Online stores (like Amazon.com) are not required to collect sales taxes from Massachusetts buyers unless the company has a physical presence in the state. Amazon.com now has offices in Massachusetts, which prompted the state government to require the application of the sales tax.

A Separate Amazon.com Account for MIT Purchases

To avoid this sales tax issue, MIT community members should create an Amazon.com profile exclusively for MIT purchases, if they do not have one already. Creating a separate MIT business account ensures that only MIT business-related purchases receive the tax exemption.

The Amazon.com profile used for MIT purchases cannot have the same email address login as an account used for personal purchases.

Uploading the Sales Tax Exemption Certificate to Amazon.com

The MIT Tax Exemption Certificate should be uploaded to the MIT purchasing profile on this Amazon.com webpage. Community members will need to ensure that the certificate is uploaded to the MIT purchasing profile and not a profile used for personal purchases.

Tax Exempt Certificate for Uploading (PDF) >>

Once uploaded, Amazon.com may require 3-5 days to validate the tax-exempt account.
If purchases are made through Amazon.com from another supplier, you must provide that supplier with a copy of the certificate. In such cases, please reach out to the supplier directly before proceeding with your order on Amazon.com.

Unrecoverable Tax Payments

If a purchase is made through a profile without the exemption certificate, Amazon.com will apply the sales tax. MIT will not be able to recover the tax from Amazon.com or reimburse the taxes through a Request for Payment (RFP). Creating a separate MIT purchasing profile, with the exemption certificate, will ensure that the sales tax is not applied to MIT business purchases.

To learn more about the Amazon.com Tax Exemption Program (ATEP), please see Amazon’s Frequently Asked Questions. Please contact procard@mit.edu or 617-253-8360 if you have any questions.

Policy Reminder: Electronic Invoicing

Electronic invoicing, also know as EDI (electronic data interchange), is a method for paying standard purchase order invoices without routing them to the DLC for signature approval. Only purchases with select vendors (see link below), are paid through MIT’s electronic invoicing system.

MIT’s electronic invoicing system “presumes receipt” by the DLC for the goods or services being purchased. Presumed receipt is used for all purchase amounts, unlike the paper invoice process, which requires approval above $3,000 on standard purchase orders.

Electronic invoicing reduces the paper handling burden on DLC administrators, increases the efficiency of Accounts Payable (AP) services, and assures prompt payment to vendors.

MIT’s vendors with electronic invoicing >>

For questions regarding electronic invoicing, contact Accounts Payable.

We Have a Winner!

Following last month’s VPF Statement poll, black has been selected as the new color for the MIT Travel Card. Nearly 200 votes were submitted, with two-thirds voting for black. The new cards will be issued this spring.

A Message from Chris Durham, HR/Payroll Manager

Are you responsible for HR transactions for your area and have questions about how to submit a transaction or the status of a transaction in process?

The HR/Payroll Service Team has dedicated representatives ready to help. Find out which team member supports your area.

Please contact Darren Scartissi, Assistant Manager, with any questions about HR transaction support.

Have a general HR/Payroll question and don't know where to start?

Contact HR/Payroll via phone or email, or stop by the our service desk, and a customer service team member will provide assistance.

Email: payroll@mit.edu
Phone: 617-253-4255
HR/Payroll Service Center: NE49 3rd Floor, 9:30 am-4:30 pm

The HR/Payroll Service Center’s primary goal is to deliver a high level of service to all community members. We continue to cross-train and share knowledge across the team so that all members can respond to questions or direct you to the best resource.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns.
Chris Durham

FedEx: MIT's Preferred Shipping Supplier

FedEx provides significant discounts for shipping MIT packages under a contract established through the Educational and Institutional Cooperative.

To set up a new FedEx account, please visit the online registration page.

If you have an existing account and would like to confirm you are receiving MIT's discounts, please call FedEx at 1-800-645-9424.

To reduce paperwork and simplify the billing process, we encourage you to link your MIT Procurement Card to your FedEx account by calling the FedEx number listed above.

If you have a FedEx Ground shipment, please see this list of pick-up locations on campus. If there are special circumstances, FedEx will coordinate with the shipper for direct pickup at your location.


MIT’s FedEx Account Manager:
Tasia Halloran, 617-361-3954

VPF Sourcing and Procurement:
Ann Julian, 617-253-8350
Catelin Matos, 617-253-8345

Reminder: W-9 Form Required for MIT Vendor Registration

The Sourcing and Procurement team is working to improve MIT's vendor database by streamlining the vendor registration process. In support of this effort, it is important that all vendors doing business with MIT provide a completed W-9 Form to Sourcing and Procurement. W-9s (W-8s for foreign vendors) are required to activate new vendors; to reactivate vendors who have been deleted after 18 months of inactivity; and to update a vendor’s name and/or address. The form is necessary for tax reporting purposes and ensures accuracy of the vendor database.

Members of the community are asked to work with their buyers in Sourcing and Procurement to make sure W-9 forms are submitted and are on file. Contact procurement@mit.edu with any questions.

New Contract with MIT Preferred Supplier Thorlabs

MIT has secured a new contract with Thorlabs, a global photonics company. The contract extends a 3% discount on orders up to $25,000 to the entire Institute, including Lincoln Laboratory. Orders greater than $25,000 will receive a 4% discount. The discount will automatically be applied to single orders consisting of standard catalog items only.

MIT’s previous contract with Thorlabs applied to select labs and only for orders greater than $10,000.

Payments to MIT Employees

As a reminder, all payments to MIT employees should be processed through MIT's HR/Payroll Service Center (not Accounts Payable). This includes supplemental payments (e.g., an honorarium for a speech). If you have any questions, please contact the HR/Payroll Service Center at payroll@mit.edu or 617-253-4255.

Limited Cancelation of Travel Drop-in Sessions

Please note that VPF Travel will not offer its weekly drop-in sessions on three upcoming dates as a result of a scheduling conflict. The canceled Wednesday drop-in sessions are:

  • November 20
  • December 4

Individuals in need of assistance with expense reports on those dates may contact travelsupport@mit.edu to schedule another time for in-person assistance.

Held each Wednesday, 10-11 am, in the Little Cayman Conference Room in NE49, the drop-in sessions are designed to assist MIT community members with Concur travel expense reports.

FAQ: Selection of Source Forms

Q: When is it appropriate to submit a Selection of Source form?

A: The requirement for documenting selection of source and price justification begins at $10,000 for MIT purchases. The Selection of Source form can be downloaded from the VPF website and saved to your computer. The completed form should be attached to your requisition. Written quotes should also be included whenever available and always for purchases greater than $50,000.

If you have questions about selection of source and price justification, please email procurement@mit.edu.