Frequently Asked Questions

California Partial Sales Tax Exemption Process

What are the changes to Tempbudg and why wont it be used in FY’15?

There are a set of funds that the budget office refers to as Contracts and Grant funds. These funds include federal appropriation funds and financial aid funds. These two fund groups are not managed by CGA and so are not in scope for the C&G project. For all sponsored award funds managed by CGA (if you want the funds list go look at the combo edit rule for the C&G funds and you will see what nodes on the EFA_FUND tree are considered CGA funds), the departments will use the TempBudg for all budget transactions hitting fiscal year 2014 and earlier. The TempBudg will no longer be used for budget transactions for sponsored award funds starting in Fiscal Year 2015 and later. That means that any transactions posted to the June 2014 and earlier accounting periods (even if they were posted in July) will use the TempBudg and any transactions being posted to the July 2014 and later accounting periods will use the Commitment Control ledger (KK). TempBudg entries can be uploaded via the journal import process and online via the journal entry pages. Commitment Control entries can only be uploaded through the Budget Import process.

How are Project and Activity IDs generated in BFS?

When a budget is submitted, the CGA Analyst begins by looking at the ChartStrings to determine whether they are free from errors, and that all the costing elements of the award (subawards, cost sharing, funding periods, etc.) are represented in the budget. Then, based on the mapping between the CF1/CF2 ChartFields with the PC ChartFields, each Chartstring is assigned a Project and Activity ID.

How will CGA determine description field value when creating new projects? Will description fields be included in the budget template?

At this time, the CGA analyst will create a description based on the chartfiled combinations that indicate a new project should be created. For example:

  1. Additional PI: Award # 2nd PI Last Name (Example: 123456 2nd PI Sailor)
  2. Different Task: Award # Task 1 PI Last Name if applicable (Example: 123456 Task 1 Sailor)
  3. Fabrication: Award # FAB Plant Fund # (Example: 123456 FAB 12345)
  4. F&A: Award # F&A Rate 1 (Example: 123456 F&A Rate 1)

Currently we are unable to include a description field in the budget template. We are researching how this might be accomplished.

Is fabrication tracked in CF1 or CF2? Does it matter which CF it used to track this?

Although both CF1 and CF2 can map to a Project in BFS, best practice is to use CF1 to track Fabrication, as well as Task/Deliverable. Use CF2 to track PI/Faculty.

How can an RA request a second Cost Share or Program Income CF1 value?

Send in an email to CGA to request the additional CF1 values.

What is a "formal contract"?

A formal contract is an agreement between the University (signed by the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO)) and a funding organization or subaward recipient. The agreement documents the terms and conditions of the award and is essential for its financial administration, as it defines allowable costs, overhead rates, payment terms, etc.

When a contract is signed, SPO sends a Phoebe Award Summary email to the Principal Investigator named on the award. Spending on the award may begin once the budget is set up in the Berkeley Financial System (BFS).

When a department is awarded a grant to pay salaries, but the grant will not allow payment of ANY benefits, can the department pay the benefits from a different fund source?

When an agency will not pay benefits, a department can charge them to a different source "after the fact". The procedure for doing so is as follows:

  1. Payroll should be set up and charged as usual.
  2. The Dept/Account/Fund/ChartField1/ChartField2 for benefits should be identified.
  3. SPO documents for set-up should indicate that benefits are to be charged to a different Dept/Account/Fund/ChartField1/ChartField2 and identify what that Dept/Account/Fund/ChartField1/ChartField2 is.
  4. CGA will invoice everything except the benefits.

What is included in Indirect Costs?

Total Costs for a sponsored award typically include both Direct Costs and Indirect Costs.

Direct Costs include:

  • Instruction
  • Sponsored Research
  • Other Sponsored Activities
  • Other Institutional Activities

Read more about Direct Costs on the SPO website.

Indirect Costs include:Building Use Allowance

  • Equipment Use Allowance/Depreciation
  • Operation and Maintenance
  • General Administration
  • Department Administration
  • Sponsored Project Administration
  • Library
  • Student Administration

Read more about Indirect Costs on the SPO website.

I just received the Phoebe Award Summary, but the awarded amount is substantially different from the original proposal. It will take me more than two business days to revise my spending plan. What happens if I can't meet the deadline to submit a budget?

CGA cannot complete award setup in BFS without a budget: the consequence of a delay in budget submission is a delay in activating the award fund to initiate spending. Please take the time you need to submit an accurate budget to CGA, and if the budget is correct, spending can begin two business days after submission.

Can I use CF1 as a flex field, and if so, how?

Create a CF1 with the Attribute  "Non-C&G Attribute" for use for internal tracking (i.e., not important for sponsor reporting). This CF1+attribute will not interfere with tracking cost share, fabrication, etc. and will not create a  Project value in BFS. Be sure to add a line with ZERO $ in the budget upload - this will enable CGA to add the CF1 to the mapping table.

How will campus users find the Project and Activity Status for their Awards?

Access the RA Grants WorkCenter in BFS and click Report/Queries tab and then under “Award Information” the Project Activity hyperlink to access the Project Activity Status.

Is the default Activity ID on converted awards always 01?

Existing awards converted to the new system have as many Activities (funding periods) as determined in the CF1/2 Attributing task done in early in 2014. If the converted award has only one funding period it has an Activity of 01.  If there is more than one Activity associated with the project there will be more Activity IDs.

What qualifies as research and development equipment?

Research and development equipment that is used for:

1. Biotechnology and other life science research (NAICS code 541711)

2. Research and development categorized by industry (i.e., agriculture, biology, botany, chemical, guided missile and space vehicles, industrial) (NAICS code 541712) 

Is the Shopper authorized to self-identify qualifying orders?

Yes. As a UCB employee the Shopper has the authority to self-identify qualifying orders.

Does the qualifying equipment have to be used for research 100%?

The qualifying equipment/item must be used 50% of the time in California for research and development and have a useful life of 1 yr + .

What items qualify?

Machinery and equipment that will be used at least 50% of the time, and for over one year, in research and development anywhere in California. 

  • Leased equipment, special purpose buildings, and non-inventorial equipment such as computers that are subject to the same requirements stated above.
  • Equipment or devices used or required to operate, control, regulate, or maintain the machinery, including, but not limited to, computers, data-processing equipment, and computer software, together with all repair and replacement parts with a useful life of one or more years, whether purchased separately or in conjunction with a complete machine and regardless of whether the machine or component parts are assembled by the qualified person or another party.
  • Computers used to acquire data and or control research instrumentation are eligible.

Must meet the established UC definition for capital equipment, including the following threshold for capitalization:

  • Infrastructure and buildings: $35,000
  • Equipment: $5,000
  • Fabrication: Cumulative Expense $5,000
Can copier leases for qualified property be claimed?

Yes,  it can as long as the copier lease is exclusively for the use of or resides within a Research department or research project. 

Do maintenance payments on leased equipment qualify?

Sales tax (if applicable) may be applied differently. If there is solely service and absolutely no equipment involved, sales tax will not be applied altogether. If there are both services that require the equipment replacement and/or installation, sales tax may be applied. Normally, sales tax is separately stated and identifiable so Accounts Payable should be able to determine that tax is subject to the exemption. 

Is there a statute of limitations for claiming the exemption?

In general, 3 years. 

Qualifying equipment was purchased before 2014. Do the maintenance expenses for the qualifying equipment qualify as well?

In order for maintenance expenses to qualify, the department must have taken title of the equipment on or after July 1, 2014. If there is solely service and absolutely no equipment involved, sales tax will not be applied altogether. If there are both services that require the equipment replacement and/or installation, sales tax may be applied. Normally, sales tax is separately stated and identifiable so Accounts Payable should be able to determine that tax is subject to the exemption. 

Can we claim partial exemption if we are purchasing used equipment?
Can we claim partial exemption if we are purchasing equipment from a Foreign Supplier?

Purchases from foreign Suppliers typically are not subject to sales tax as they do not have nexus in the State of California. Any applicable use tax, if equipment qualifies, will be partially exempt as long as the transaction is properly flagged in BearBuy. 

If an item was incorrectly claimed, who takes responsibility for any financial implications?

If it is later determined that the purchase does not qualify for the sales tax exemption, the department will be responsible for additional tax assessment, fines and interest. 

Is there a single purchase dollar limit/minimum to claim an item as partially sales tax exempt?

Yes, since one of the requirements to qualify for the exemption listed (see above FAQ - What items qualify?) is that it must meet the established UC definition for capital equipment, including the following minimum threshold for capitalization:

  • Infrastructure and buildings: $35,000
  • Equipment: $5,000
Is there a limit/maximum on how much we can take an exemption on?

Yes. The SBOE has limited the partial rate exemption to $200 million in purchases in a calendar year UC system-wide, which will be monitored by Accounts Payable.

When are Shoppers required to complete an exemption certificate?

A certificate of exemption must be completed for every qualifying order. 

Who is responsible for completing the certificate?

UC employees can complete and sign the exemption certificate as UC Berkeley qualifies as an organization. We recommend the Shopper or the individual with the most knowledge on the nature of the equipment complete the certificate.

Can a Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) or other student employees sign the certification?

Yes, as UC employees, GSRs and student workers can complete the certificate as UC Berkeley qualifies as an organization. We recommend the Shopper or the individual with the most knowledge on the nature of the equipment complete the certificate. Departments can delegate this task to the GSR/Student as it is not in violation with any SBOE tax law. 

Can Shoppers reuse the exemption certificate to purchase the same item multiple times?

Yes as long as it’s acceptable by the Supplier and the exemption certificate explicitly details the item being purchased. We recommend contacting the Supplier before proceeding.

Does the description of the item have to fit on the 4 lines provided?

A detailed description should be included on the space provided on the exemption certificate. If additional space is needed, please attach a separate sheet.

If a purchase is for an item that has multiple parts/components (listed with pieces for each item), does the Shopper only complete one form? Or multiple forms?

When you purchase qualifying equipment with multiple parts/components, you only need to file 1 exemption certificate. It is crucial that the individual completing the certificate explicitly specify each part/component. 

If a department obtains a quote from a Supplier with 10 qualifying items (not as parts of a single equipment), how many exemption certificates must be completed?

It is required to complete an exemption certificate for every qualifying order. If an order includes multiple qualifying items needed for a multi-stage project/event, you should include as many items as you can on one exemption certificate. If all 10 qualifying items are truly not related to one another, 10 certificates would need to be completed.

Is a wet signature required on the exemption?

Yes, a wet signature is required on the exemption certificate. Digital signatures will not be accepted. 

Where can I access the Partial Sales tax exemption certificate?
Which form do we use to purchase new qualifying equipment/items?

The non-catalog form should be used for new qualifying purchases (with the exception of Sole Source orders). The non-catalog form easily facilitates notification to the Supplier of these partially sales tax exempt orders. 

How should qualifying punchout catalogs orders be processed? Why?

Qualifying punchout catalog orders should be placed on the non-catalog form. Using the non-catalog form will allow us to notify the Supplier of the exemption in a timely manner as not all hosted punchout Suppliers support external notes. 

If I have a qualifying Sole Source order, which form should I use?

Qualifying sole source orders should be processed using the Sole Source Over $100,000 form. The same partial sales tax exemption process and documentation requirements apply. 

How should qualifying After the Fact orders be processed?

After the Fact orders should be rare in occurrence as they are unauthorized purchases of goods or services. If a qualifying After the Fact order occurs the department will have to wait to claim the refund until the retroactive refund process is established by the Controller’s office in 2016.

Which form should I use to purchase qualifying maintenance services?

If there is solely service and absolutely no equipment involved, sales tax will not be applied altogether. If there are both services that require the equipment replacement and/or installation, use the non-catalog form. 

If an order is divided between qualifying and non-qualifying items, is this considered ‘splitting orders’? If so, what should we do?

Yes. In situations where an order is split between qualifying and non-qualifying items, the Shopper should submit 2 carts (one with qualifying products and the other without). Shoppers should then select the buyer intervention checkbox and reference both cart numbers on each cart. Selecting the Buyer Intervention checkbox guarantees the order will be reviewed by a campus buyer and policy requirements are met. 

If the Shopper uses the incorrect form, how should the Requisition Creator process this order?

The Requisition Creator can either return the cart back to the Shopper requesting the correct form be used. OR, the Requisition Creator can recreate the order on the appropriate form (rejecting the original cart). A comment referencing the old/new cart number should be included on both carts. 

What should the Requisition Creator do if they notice an item does not qualify but the Shopper is claiming partial sales tax exemption?

The Requisition Creator should unselect the CA Partial Sales Tax checkbox and notify the Shopper. It is recommended to notify the Shopper through a BearBuy comment.

Can the Requisition Creator select the check box if the shopper neglected to?

If the Shopper attached the completed exemption certificate, the Requisition creator can select the checkbox if not performed by the Shopper.

What should the Requisition Creator do if the Shopper attaches an incomplete exemption certificate?

Documentation requirements are not met if an incomplete exemption certificate is attached. The Requisition Creator should reach out to the Shopper and request the missing fields be completed. The Requisition Creator should only approve the transaction once a completed exemption certificate is attached. 

Are Requisition Creators required to review all orders to determine qualification if not previously identified by the Shopper?

Requisition Creators are only required to review partial sales tax exemption qualifications on Shopper self- identified orders. If a Requisition Creator notices a transaction qualifies but was not flagged, the Requisition Creator may alert the Shopper of the possible qualification. The Shopper is then responsible for completing the exemption certificate and attaching it to requisition.

What is the Supplier partial sales tax note?

"This note serves as the University's notification that this order qualifies for the California State Board of Equalization's Manufacturing and Research Development Partial Sales and Use Tax Exemption under Regulation 1525.4. This exemption results in a partial state sales tax rate reduction of 4.1875%. The current statewide sales tax rate is 7.5%, so a partial sales tax rate reduction of 4.1875% will result in a 3.3125% sales tax rate (7.5% current statewide rate -4.1875% partial exemption), plus any applicable local and district sales taxes. If you are registered to collect sales tax in the State of California, this is the reduced rate that you, as the Supplier, are required to collect. The University will short pay any invoices that exceed the discounted sales tax rate. For more information, please visit:"

How does the Requisition Creator notify the Supplier of the partial sales tax exemption?

The Requisition Creator notifies the Supplier of the exemption by adding the partial sales tax exemption note in the External Notes and Attachment section of the Requisition. The note is then is including on the Purchase Order sent to the Supplier.

Is there a Document Search filter to identify qualifying orders?

Yes. There is a new CA Partial Sales Tax custom filter available in Document Search. The new filter is available when searching Requisitions, Purchase Orders and/or Vouchers. 

Who do we contact at Accounts Payable for assistance?

Tax-related questions (including what qualifies, etc) should be sent to Accounts Payable will work with a Tax Coordinator to address your questions.

How should qualifying bluCard orders be processed?

This process only addresses transactions placed in BearBuy. For bluCard process questions, please contact

How does AP know that the Supplier has charged us a lesser sales tax rate?

A new Equipment Review workflow step was created for all identified orders. Accounts Payable will review the sales/use tax associated with each transaction in order to properly apply sales/use tax. 

How will AP apply the correct sales tax rate if the Supplier issues and charges the full sales tax amount?

Accounts Payable will short pay the tax and will include a partial sales tax exemption remittance note on the payment. Accounts payable will associate the reduced tax rate to qualifying transaction prior to Org Node Approver and payment. 

Will these vouchers fall into Match Exception?

No. Taxes, as well as shipping charges, are not included in the matching process.

What is the process for wire transfer payments?

Wire transfer payments follow the same partial sales tax exemption process.

As a Voucher Approver, will we be able to quickly identify these qualifying payments?

Yes. Vouchers associated to partial sales tax exempt orders will inherit the CA Partial Sales Tax flag. The flag is visible in General section of the Voucher next to the Org Node. 

Will the invoice be paid via paper check or the existing payment method?

Suppliers will receive a separate standalone payment for qualifying purchases. Payment to Suppliers will be sent through their existing payment method.

Are Shoppers aware of the CA Partial Sales Tax Exemption process?

Notification of the CA Partial Tax Exemption process at UC Berkeley was sent to campus on June 22, 2015 through the BearBuy newsletter. Campus Buyers, Campus Shared Services Requisition Creators and the BearBuy Help Desk have been informed and trained on the new process.

Will Shoppers be trained?

A job aid was developed to assist Shoppers with placing their orders in BearBuy. A full process description is also available online for all users.

What about retroactive refunds?

Our current efforts are focused on capturing the maximum available partial sales tax reductions on existing BearBuy orders. The Controller’s Office will address the retroactive refund process in 2016 (statute of limitations for claiming the exemption, in general, is 3 years). For additional retroactive refund questions, payment clarifications, etc, please contact:

Is there an introductory type of video available that explains the new navigation?

Yes. Please use the following link to view the 2018 Navigation Upgrade video.

When navigating to pages with Related Content via the tiles, the Related Content drop-down arrow is missing; where did it go?

Related Content is still available, but users must open up a new window from within BFS for it to be displayed. We are working with Oracle to resolve this issue.

Will the pages that I have saved in BFS as ‘favorites’ still be available to me once BFS is upgraded on April 3rd?

Yes, your favorites will be transferred to the new environment.

Will there be any training or demonstrations available?

Yes. The BFS team will be hosting five webinars in the next couple of weeks, at which time we will provide an overview of the upgraded navigation system and take questions on the new design. Register for a webinar on the BFS Upgrade webpage. 

Where did my Worklist go?

There are now two different methods for approving transactions. A video describing these methods may be found at this link:


Click on the ‘Approvals’ tile from the “BFS Home” homepage. The ‘Approvals’ tile has basic filter functionality (transaction type, date, requestor, from).


Click on the ‘General Ledger’ tile from the “BFS Home” homepage. The ‘GL Approvals WorkCenter’ will only show journal entries. Use the ‘GL Approvals WorkCenter if you need to filter journals by Org Node or if you prefer to review the journal in the journal entry page format.

Sometimes my back to Home button does not appear? What do I do if this happens?

If this occurs, then click on the Home button twice. Then, when you navigate into the different tiles the back to Home button on the top left-hand side of the page will appear. We are working with Oracle to resolve this issue.

I sometimes get logged out of the system for no apparent reason.

There is a known Oracle issue where users are logged out of PeopleSoft systems when users are logged into multiple PeopleSoft systems such as BLU, HCM and Campus Solutions in the same browser at the same time. The workaround for this is to either login to only one of these systems at a single time or login to the systems via different browsers. We are working with Oracle to resolve this issue. There can happen when users are logged into multiple PeopleSoft systems (such as BLU, HCM and Campus Solutions) using the same browser at the same time. The workaround is to either login to only one of these systems at a single time or login to the systems using different browsers. We are working with Oracle to resolve this issue.

I have logged into BLU, but can no longer find the link to BFS there. Where did it go?

We had to remove the link due to a known Oracle issue with browser cache. To login to BFS you will need to navigate directly to BFS using the URL We are working with Oracle to resolve this issue.

I have logged into BLU, but can no longer find the link to the COA Validation page there. Where did it go?

We had to remove the link due to a known Oracle issue with browser cache. To login to BFS you will need to navigate directly to BFS using the URL We are working with Oracle to resolve this issue.

What happened to the menu in BFS?

The list-driven menu has been replaced with a tile-based navigation method. Clicking on the various tiles will either take you directly to the page you need to access or it will open up a mini list-driven menu called a Navigation Collection. Please see the short video for a brief overview of the changes.

I see pages that I never saw before. Did my security change?

No, there has not been any changes to security. If you had access to certain menu items/pages prior to April 3, 2018, then you still have access to those items. The only difference is that those pages are more visible with the new navigation.

How do I delete my browser cache?

** Please make sure you are logged out of all systems, email, etc. and all but one window are closed before deleting your cache **
1. From within the web browser (in this example, Google Chrome), click on the “Customize and Control Google Chrome” icon in the top right-hand corner
2. Click on ‘History’
3. Click on ‘History’ again

4. Click on ‘Clear browsing data’

5. Select ‘All time’ from the drop-down menu

6. Click on ‘Clear Data’