The federal food stamp program provides temporary relief to low-income families. Anyone can apply for food stamps, including those who own their own business. All that matters is that your self-employment income does not exceed the maximum income requirements. Households combine their income to determine if they are eligible for food stamps.
Business owners can also apply for food stamps, but they must meet the same income requirements as those who work for an employer.
Proving Your Income
When you apply for food stamps, you must supply your case worker with proof of your income. Proof of income is typically submitted in the form of a pay stub. However, if you own a business and do not pay yourself a consistent salary, you must submit an alternate form of verification. Self-employed people are generally required to provide a copy of their most recent annual tax return and current bank statements. Your income is taken as the average over a 12-month period after business expenses are deducted.
Combining Household Income
A household is defined as the people in your home who share meals and expenses together. This definition also applies to spouses and children under the age 22 even if they do not share meals with you. Households combine their income and countable resources to determine their eligibility for food stamps. So, in addition to your self-employment salary, you must also count the income of anyone over the age of 18 living in your home. Each household member must also provide documentation of his salary for you to qualify for the program. If multiple people in the home are self-employed, each person must submit tax documentation and bank information to substantiate income claims.
Understanding Poverty Limits
To qualify for food stamps, the household's combined income must fall below the gross and net income limits. Your gross income is the amount you earn before paying taxes. Net income means gross income after deductions. The precise income threshold depends on the number of people in the household. By way of example, a single person is eligible if he earns $1,316 or less gross and $1,012 net in 2018; for a four-person household, the comparable limits are $2,270 and $2,092.
Adding Countable Resources
Self-employed individuals must also qualify for food stamps based on her countable resources, or assets. Consider whether your business expenses adequately offset profits for the year. Cash left in your bank account can be counted as a countable resource on your food stamp application. As of 2018, the maximum amount you can have in countable resources is $2,250 or $3,000 if a member of the household is disabled. If you paid yourself bonuses through your business, or have cash in a bank account that exceeds the countable resource limit, your application for food stamps will not be accepted.
Lanae Carr has been an entertainment and lifestyle writer since 2002. She began as a staff writer for the entertainment section of the "Emory Wheel" and she writes for various magazines and e-newsletters related to marketing and entertainment. Carr graduated from Emory University with a bachelor's degree in film studies and English.