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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, 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Purchases are frequently paid for with a combination of benefits and cash. Benefits should be applied towards the purchases of taxable and nontaxable items so that the benefits are first applied to pay for the otherwise taxable products.

Example:

  • A customer makes a $30 purchase consisting of:
    • $10 worth of exempt food products (e.g., bread),
    • $10 of USDA eligible nonfood items (e.g., soda pop), and
    • $10 of non-eligible nonfood items (e.g., household cleaners).
  • The purchaser pays with $8 in benefits and $22 in check or cash.
  • The benefits would be applied to the soda pop, and the check or cash would be applied to the remaining $2 worth of soda pop, the bread, and the household cleaners.

Retail sales would be computed on the $12 (the $10 in household cleaners and the remaining $2 worth of soda pop.)

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)(iii)(b) and RCW 82.08.297.