The American government has very strict guidelines when it comes to food and beverage purchases made with food stamps. There are several items that are strictly prohibited across the nation, while others vary slightly from state to state. Most foods and beverages that are eligible for purchase with food stamps are tax exempt, with only a few exceptions.
Tax-Exempt Beverages Eligible for Food Stamps
In all states, beverages that are of significant nutritional value, particularly to infants and children, are available for purchase using food stamps. Milk, baby formula and dairy products are among the items that are essential to a child's growth and development, and are always tax exempt. Other dairy products that are tax free to food stamp recipients are soy milk, lactose-free supplements and coffee creamers. Drinks containing at least 70-percent fruit or vegetable juice such as V-8 and infant juices are non-taxable and eligible to be purchased with food stamps, as well as certain powdered drink mixes that are fortified with the daily requirements of essential vitamins and minerals.
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Taxable Beverages Eligilible for Food Stamps
Though the restrictions and regional guidelines vary from state to state, generally beverages that are non-alcoholic and for adult consumption are eligible to be purchased with food stamps. However, the consumer is required to pay the applicable sales tax for the item. Coffee, tea and energy drinks are subject to being taxed, as well as diet or supplement drinks for adults, such as Slimfast and Ensure--even though they can be purchased with food stamps in most states. In some states, though considered an acceptable food stamp purchase, soda pop is a taxable product due to high levels of sugar and lack of nutritional value.
Beverages Not Eligible for Food Stamps
Absolutely no alcoholic beverages, or even non-alcoholic beers, are eligible for purchase with food stamps. Purchase of such products is strictly prohibited by law, and any persons buying or selling these items using food stamps is subject to fines, suspension of public assistance benefits and, in some cases, imprisonment. Any and all prepared beverages that are sold by restaurants or vendors are also not eligible for food stamp purchase, however in some states, approved restaurants are enabled to make exceptions for the elderly.