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Issue Date: Vol. 57, No. 6, June 2017, Posted On: 6/15/2017

Cook County Exempts Food Stamp Purchases From Soda Tax

Emily Jed
TAGS: Cook County sweetened beverage tax, food stamp benefits, artificially sweetened beverages

CHICAGO -- Cook County's sweetened beverage tax will not apply to purchases made with food stamp benefits, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The 1¢-per-fl.oz. tax on sugary and artificially sweetened beverages goes into effect on July 1. Under federal law, purchases made with benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, are exempt from state and local taxes.

The county's intention was to have stores build the tax in to the retail price of the products instead of adding it on at checkout. But, according to the Chicago Tribune, a ruling from the state Department of Revenue posted online on June 8 said approaching the tax that way would result in "overcollection," since the higher retail price would then be subject to sales tax.

Instead, the county now plans to collect the tax at the point of sale, to be listed as a separate line item on receipts.

This is the second time county officials reversed their stance on the matter since the tax was approved in November according to the paper. In April, following an interim ruling from the Department of Agriculture, county officials said the tax could be applied to SNAP purchases as long as it wasn't imposed at the point of sale.

This latest reversal returns to the county's original position in October, when officials said it was unlikely the tax could be applied to sweetened beverages purchased with food stamp benefits.

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