Will Receiving Foodstamps Affect My Tax Return?

by Lisa Bigelow ; Updated September 12, 2018
SNAP encourages healthy food choices.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP or food stamps, is a government aid program that provides monetary aid to low-income individuals and families for the purpose of securing food. Applying for food stamps is easy in person, online or over the phone. While there are strict eligibility and use requirements, the benefit is not taxable.

Finding More About SNAP and Other Food Programs

Whether or not you qualify for food stamp assistance depends on a variety of factors. Your assets, taxable income and the number of people in your household all affect eligibility. If your income is from social security or unemployment, that income is included. Food stamps aren't the only type of assistance available. WIC, the Women, Infants and Children food program, assists mothers with infants and small children. The Emergency Food Assistance Program, TEFAP, distributes food through food pantries and soup kitchens.

Looking Further at Government Benefits and Taxation

According to the Internal Revenue Service, food stamps and public assistance are not taxable and will not affect your tax return. Keep in mind that public assistance is not the same as unemployment insurance or social security; both unemployment insurance and social security income are taxable income and are not defined as cash aid. If you are eligible for food stamps, you should strongly consider filing your tax return, because you are likely to get a refund on your income taxes -- and not filing may result in the loss of the refund, in addition to penalties.

Everyone in your house who buys and prepares food together may be eligible for food stamps under some basic conditions. Everyone must have a social security number and be a resident or national of the United States. Aboriginals who were born in Canada or Mexico also qualify. Others may qualify as well; contact your local aid office to discuss the requirements. Recipients must register for work or participate in an approved employment training program. Some college students may be eligible as well.

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Reporting Considerations You Should Know

Income and assets are both taken into consideration when you apply for assistance although limits may depend on the number of people in your household and the state of your residence. In 2017, for example, assets, like the amount of money you have in the bank, is usually limited to $2,250 per household. Those who are older than age 60, disabled or blind have different requirements as well. The best way to determine your eligibility is to contact your county social services office to make an appointment with a caseworker. The caseworker will be able to advise you with regard to food stamps, as well as for other programs for which you may be eligible.

About the Author

Lisa Bigelow is an independent writer with prior professional experience in the finance and fitness industries. She also writes a well-regarded political commentary column published in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester counties in the New York City metro area.

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