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Supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) refers to a food assistance program that is administered, at the federal level, by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and was formerly known as the food stamp program. SNAP and other successor programs are identified below as “benefit(s)”.

Benefit eligible products are exempt from retail sales tax when purchased with benefits issued by the USDA.

Purchases are frequently paid for with a combination of benefits and cash. Benefits should be applied to pay for the nonexempt eligible items first.

Example:

  • A customer makes a $30 purchase consisting of:
    • $10 worth of exempt USDA eligible food items (e.g., bread, dairy products),
    • $10 of nonexempt USDA eligible items (e.g., soft drinks), and
    • $10 of nonexempt non-eligible items (e.g., pet food, cleaning supplies).
  • The purchaser pays with $8 in benefits and $22 in check or cash.
  • The $8 benefits would be applied to the soft drinks, and the $22 check or cash is applied to the remaining $2 worth of soft drinks, the bread, dairy products and the cleaning suppies.

Retail sales tax would be computed on the $12 (the $10 in pet food and cleaning supplies and the remaining $2 worth of soft drinks.)

For a list of eligible food items, see USDA Food and Nutrition Service Eligible Food Items.

Additional information on applying benefits to purchases is provided in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-244 (7)(b) and RCW 82.08.0297.