California’s Middle-Class Tax Refund: Do You Qualify for a Check?

What’s happening

California has announced a one-time “middle-class tax refund” that will provide 23 million taxpayers with between $200 and $1,050.

Why it matters

California’s economy is the largest in the US. The inflation relief payments are a compromise between Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers.

Starting this fall, California will send one-time inflation-relief checks to taxpayers. Through the Middle Class Tax Refund, eligible families will receive a one-time payment of as much as $1,050, depending on their income, filing status and household size.

The $9.5 billion in refunds is part of a larger $12 billion relief plan approved by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers in June.

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” Newsom said in a statement.

Here’s what you need to know about California’s inflation relief checks, including who is eligible for the money, how much they’ll get and when they can expect to receive it. 

California is just one of numerous states offering residents stimulus payments. Find out which are issuing tax refunds and which are pausing their gas tax and sales tax.

Who qualifies for the California tax rebate check?

The refund plan has been set up in three tiers, based on the adjusted gross income on your 2020 California state tax return.

  • Single taxpayers who earned less than $75,000 and couples who filed jointly and made less than $150,000 will receive $350 per taxpayer and another flat $350 if they have any dependents. A married couple with children, therefore, could receive as much as $1,050. This is the largest bracket, KCRA reported, representing about 82% of beneficiaries.
  • Individual filers who made between $75,000 and $125,000 — and couples who earned between $150,000 and $250,000 — will receive $250 per taxpayer, plus another $250 if they have any dependents. A family with any children could receive $750.
  • Individual filers who earned between $125,000 and $250,000 and couples who earned between $250,000 and $500,000 would receive $200 each. A family with children in this bracket could receive a maximum of $600.

Although single taxpayers who earned more than $250,000 and couples who made more than a combined $500,000 in 2020 aren’t eligible, the Middle Class Tax Refund is expected to benefit 23 million Californians in all.

You can estimate your payment with the Franchise Tax Board website calculator.

What are the requirements for the tax rebate?

In addition to meeting income requirements, residents must have filed their 2020 tax refund by Oct. 15, 2021, have lived in the state for at least half of the 2020 tax year and still be a California resident on the date the payment is issued. 

They also cannot have been claimed as dependents in the 2020 tax year. 

When will the California tax rebate payments go out?

According to the  Franchise Tax Board, the payments will start going out in October and the last ones should be received in the middle of January 2023.  

How will California taxpayers receive their rebate payments?

If you filed your 2020 California state tax return electronically and requested a direct deposit for your refund, you will receive the tax rebate as a direct deposit, as well. 

Otherwise, you should receive your payment on a debit card. 

What if I didn’t file a 2020 California tax return?

Most Californians who didn’t file a complete 2020 tax return by Oct. 15, 2021, aren’t eligible for the rebate. (The exception is for those who applied for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, and had not received it by Oct 15, 2021.)

In addition to the tax rebate, the state is increasing funding for several social programs, including the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment, which assists more than 1 million seniors and disabled people. SSI/SSP benefits will increase by about $39 per month for individuals and by $100 per month for couples.

There are also increases to California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids, aka CalWORKS grants, which provide money and services to eligible families with children. Grant recipients could see their benefits increase as much as $194 a month, KCRA reported.