Inflation relief debit cards to be sent out to Californians starting today

Visa logo on a credit card and a laptop keyboard
Inflation relief debt cards will soon be sent out to Californians to help ease the pain of increased prices.
(Jakub Porzycki / Getty Images)

Debit cards with inflation relief payments will be mailed out to millions of Californians starting Monday and should arrive in mailboxes over the next few weeks to help ease the pain of increased prices.

The California “Middle Class Tax Refund” program aims to soften the blow of rising inflation through a one-time payment, ranging from $400 to $1,050 for couples who filed jointly on their 2020 state income tax return and $200 to $700 for those who filed independently.

Eligible residents will need to have filed their 2020 tax return by Oct. 15, 2021, meet the state’s adjusted gross income limits and not have been claimed as a dependent in 2020. Individuals will also have to have lived in California for six months or more in 2020 and be a California resident when the payment is issued.


The Water Rate Assistance Program, which Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed last month, would have created a water affordability program for low-income households.

Oct. 24, 2022

Roughly 4.2 million Californians who electronically filed their 2020 income tax returns have already received their payments, according to the California Franchise Tax Board. The majority of all direct deposits will arrive by November, but additional direct deposits will be delivered from Oct. 28 through Nov. 14.

Debit cards will be mailed out starting Monday through Nov. 5 for those who filed their 2020 income tax with a paper form, received their Golden State Stimulus payment by check last year and whose last names start with letters A through E. The debit card payments will then be sent out to people whose last names start with F through Z.

The debit cards will be sent by the California Franchise Tax Board in partnership with Money Network and once people receive those cards, they can activate them by calling (800) 240-0223 and use them anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted, according to state officials.

Albertsons and Kroger say their merger would benefit consumers. The history of mergers, in the grocery business and elsewhere, offers cause for skepticism.

Oct. 18, 2022

Anyone who filed a direct deposit in 2020, but changed their banking information since then, can expect to wait a little longer for their payment, with an estimated arrival window between Dec. 17 through Jan. 14.

“We know it’s expensive right now, and California is putting money back into your pockets to help. We’re sending out refunds worth over a thousand dollars to help families pay for everything from groceries to gas,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a written statement when the program was launched.

The average cost for a gallon of gasoline in California is $5.75, up about 7 cents from a month ago and up $1.21 from last year, according to data from the American Automobile Assn. State gas prices peaked this summer when a regular gallon of gasoline was $6.43, AAA said.

The state estimates 18 million payments will be sent out to help Californians weather inflationary prices. The total program cost $9.5 billion and arrives as stubborn inflation prices refuse to budge across the United States. The most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says year-over-year, all goods rose by 8.2%.


Basic strategies to survive inflation involve spending (or saving) less or earning more. Or, if you’re retired, using more of your savings.

Oct. 1, 2022