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Can You Use Coupons With EBT or Food Stamps?

Can You Use Coupons With EBT or Food Stamps?

Can you use coupons with EBT or food stamps? This is a common question from folks who use SNAP to purchase groceries. Coupons can be a great way to save a little money, but there are some restrictions when it comes to using coupons with EBT or food stamps to be aware of. Read on for more information!

Can you use coupons with EBT or food stamps?

The short answer to this question is yes, you can use coupons with your EBT card also known as food stamps! Just make sure to read on for more information about how using coupons along with food stamps works. It is common practice to use manufacturer’s or store coupons in order to take a few cents off the price of food items when you’re using SNAP. After all, coupons are just another form of payment. 

However, if you live in a state where sales tax is levied on food items, there’s more to know.

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What’s the catch?

Well, it’s not that there’s a “catch”, exactly. However, if you’re using coupons with your EBT card or food stamps, there might be an extra step, depending on where you live. 

See, in some states, there is sales tax charged on the price of food items. If that is the case where you live, then you will have to pay the sales tax on the coupon discounted items using cash or another non-EBT form of payment. SNAP funds cannot be used to pay the sales tax on the coupon discounted portion of purchased items. 

woman selecting groceries in article on can you use coupons with food stamps?

Which U.S. states charge sales tax on food?

There are 13 states in the U.S. that still charge sales tax on food. Some charge the full rate of sales tax for the state, while others charge a reduced rate of sales tax: 

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia

If you live in one of these 13 states, you will have to pay the sales tax on your coupon discounted items using an alternative form of payment, like cash or debit. 

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What about non-food items?

Food stamps, otherwise known as SNAP or EBT, can only be used to purchase food items and seeds and plants that can be used to produce food. SNAP eligible items exclude hot and prepared foods. 

If you have an EBT card, it is possible that you are also receiving TANF cash assistance. EBT cash assistance can be used to purchase a wide range of items, including clothing, footwear, and household products like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, and even furniture

In many places, some items that can be purchased with EBT cash assistance are subject to sales tax. Therefore, if you are using coupons to purchase these items, the same rule would apply, and you would need to pay sales tax on them using a different form of payment. 

That said, there are certain products that cannot be purchased with SNAP or EBT cash assistance under any circumstances, including tobacco products, alcohol, and lottery tickets.

If you are someone who likes to find innovative ways to save money, shopping with coupons issued by supermarkets and manufacturers is a great way to cut costs and make your SNAP benefits go further each month. 

So, when you’re wondering, “can you use coupons with EBT or food stamps?”, just be sure that you are aware of whether the items you are purchasing using your SNAP benefits are subject to sales tax. It is always best to carry a second form of payment, such as cash, debit, or credit cards in case you need to pay sales tax on your coupon discounted items. 

For more information on how to make the most of your SNAP benefits, check out Low Income Relief’s article on how to get more food stamps, and how to save money on groceries.  

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Catherine Hall, LMSW is a therapist at a small group practice in New York City. She earned her master of social work degree at New York University.