SNAP Guidance: Illinois Has Suspended Grocery Tax for a Year, But Some Items Not Covered

Asian chinese senior man checking shopping list using smart phone shopping in supermarket looking for dairy product stock photo
Edwin Tan /

Beginning July 1, Illinois began suspending its 1% grocery tax for the next year to help residents keep more money in their pockets as prices continue to rise nationwide. Illinois is only one of 13 states to levy a grocery tax, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, which critics said contributes to higher food insecurity for SNAP recipients and other low-income households. While Illinois residents may be paying less at checkout, this temporary change only applies to everyday grocery items to take home.

SNAP benefits do not fully cover statewide grocery taxes on all purchases, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Recipients must still pay a grocery tax on purchases not covered by SNAP. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy:

  • Any non-food items
  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Any food that will be eaten in the store
  • Hot foods

Illinois typically charges a 1% tax on groceries, medicine, other drug items and hygiene products. Other purchases are charged at a higher sales tax rate of 6.25%, reported The Motley Fool. Medicine, drug items and hygiene products, which are not covered by SNAP, will continue to be taxed at the 1% tax rate in Illinois.

Additionally, The Fool noted that food packaged for immediate consumption, soft drinks, candy and alcoholic beverages will continue to be taxed at the state sales tax rate of 6.25% plus any local taxes, if applicable. SNAP recipients will be able to purchase snacks, candy and soft drinks without paying tax, but alcoholic beverages will be taxed at 6.25% for all residents.

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