California is sending money directly to millions of residents to help with rising costs and high gas prices.
The payments, which started going out Oct. 7, range from $200 to $1,050, depending on income and other factors. About 18 million payments will be distributed over the next few months, benefiting up to 23 million Californians. The cash payouts are part of a June budget deal.
CalMatters talked to the state’s Franchise Tax Board to parse what all this means for you. Here are the facts.
Are You Eligible?
To be eligible, you need to have filed a 2020 California tax return by Oct. 15, 2021. There’s an exception for people who did not file by the October deadline because they were waiting on an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (so long as they filed by Feb. 15, 2022).
People who didn’t file taxes for 2020, including some seniors and disabled people, will be left out.
People who can be claimed as dependents for tax purposes won’t get their own payments.
The payments also won’t go to married or domestic partners who have an adjusted gross income over $500,000. Same goes for many individuals who have adjusted gross incomes over $250,000.
You also had to be a California resident for at least six months of 2020, and be a resident when your payment is issued.
Undocumented Californians with a valid taxpayer number or Social Security number, who filed complete 2020 tax returns and meet all of the eligibility requirements, can receive the payments.
You don’t need to send any additional forms, or fill out any application to get the payment.
How Will You Get the Payment?
People who are eligible for the payment will get it either via a direct deposit to their bank account or by mailed debit card, according to the tax board. Generally, people who filed their 2020 tax return online and received their state tax refund via direct deposit will get a direct deposit.
Most other people who are eligible will get debit cards in the mail. The envelope will be clearly marked with the phrase “Middle Class Tax Refund.”
When Will You Get the Payment?
The first round of payments will go to people who received one of the two Golden State Stimulus payments from 2021 and are eligible for a direct deposit. The first round of payments are expected to go out between Oct. 7 and Oct. 25.
The rest of the direct deposits are expected to go out between Oct. 28 and Nov. 14. The tax board expects 90% of direct deposits to be sent out in October, according to its website.
Debit cards for people who got one of the Golden State Stimulus payments are expected to be mailed out between Oct. 25 and Dec. 10. All of the remaining debit cards are expected to be mailed by Jan. 15
Why can’t they all be sent out at once? “There are constraints on the number of direct deposits and mailed debit cards that can be issued weekly,” Franchise Tax Board spokesperson Andrew LePage told CalMatters. “Logistically it takes time to deliver approximately 18 million payments to Californians effectively and accurately, protecting both taxpayers and California.”
How Much Will You Get?
The Franchise Tax Board has information, as well as a customer help line, which can be reached by dialing 800-542-9332. The help line has assistance in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, Vietnamese, Korean, and Punjabi. The board says other languages may be supported by request.
CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.