- Associated Press - Thursday, August 17, 2017

CHICAGO (AP) - Cook County officials say a problem with the newly imposed sweetened beverage tax that jeopardized about $87 million in federal food stamp funds for Illinois has been solved.

Retailers without programed point-of-sale systems were charging soda purchases made with food stamp benefits the penny-per-ounce tax. That is prohibited by federal regulations. However, the county’s regulations gave stores the option of issuing a refund.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week warned state officials that allowing refunds violated rules barring retailers from charging Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients the tax at any time.

County spokesman Frank Shuftan said in a statement Thursday the county has solved the issue by striking language permitting refunds from regulations. Retailers now must make “manual adjustment” or take other steps to not tax food stamp recipients.

The USDA confirms it’s been informed the issue has been corrected.

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