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Exempt Diplomats in Wisconsin are Winged, Not Hooved


 Diplomats identified as eagles are exempt from Wisconsin lodging taxes.

Are you identified as an owl, eagle, buffalo, or deer?

Certain foreign diplomats are eligible for an exemption from sales and lodging taxes in Wisconsin. Other diplomats must pay taxes on their lodging. Wisconsin lodging providers need to know how to distinguish between the two.

The exemption from taxes is quid pro quo: it is “based on reciprocity the Department of State has with other foreign missions.” Diplomats possessing a valid tax exemption card issued by the federal Department of State are exempt from Wisconsin sales and local room taxes, providing their exemption card contains the following:

  • An image of an eagle or owl
  • Expiration date
  • Mission name
  • Personal data
  • Photograph of the cardholder
  • Tax exemption number

All on the above list are self-explanatory with the exception of the first item, which requires clarification. According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, “Valid cards also have an animal image (owl or eagle) to identify the level of exemption the cardholder is authorized to receive.” Cardholders whose cards bear the image of a buffalo or deer do not qualify for the exemption. True story.

Lodging establishments in Wisconsin are required to document the exemption by recording the diplomat’s tax exemption number on the hotel’s invoice. For additional information, please see the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s updated publication, Hotels, Motels, and Other Lodging Providers.

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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.