Where is my California inflation relief money?

Packs of freshly printed $20 notes are processed for bundling and packaging
Packs of freshly printed $20 notes are processed for bundling and packaging at the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington.
(Eva Hambach / AFP via Getty Images)

California has paid over 7 million eligible residents under the state’s inflation relief program since it launched last month. The relief payments are meant to soften the blow of increasing costs, but there are still millions more that have not been paid, leaving many wondering: Where is my money?

The Middle Class Tax Refund has paid over 6 million eligible Californians through direct deposit and mailed 1.6 million people their payments through debit cards, according to the California Franchise Tax Board. In total, the state hopes to pay 23 million Californians $9.5 billion. So far, just over $4 billion has been paid out.

The one-time payments range 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, and meet the state’s adjusted gross income limits.

There are a lot of moving parts to consider, but the most important three questions are:

1. Am I eligible to get money through the California Middle Class Tax Refund?


There are several important qualifications to keep in mind to get a payment. You may already be eligible and not know it. According to the state Franchise Tax Board, requirements for eligible Californians include:

  • Having filed their 2020 tax return by Oct. 15, 2021.
  • Meeting the adjusted gross income (CA AGI) limits of $500,000 or less. There are tiers to how much you will receive depending on your AGI.
  • Not having been claimed as a dependent in the 2020 tax year.
  • Having been a California resident for at least six months in the 2020 tax year and are a resident on the date the payment is issued.

2. How will I receive my payment?

This will all depend on how a person filed their 2020 income tax return and whether they still have the same bank account. That can make the difference between a direct deposit or a physical debit card that will arrive in the mail. There are other qualifications that may affect how a person will receive their payment, but here are some for starters:

  • Direct deposits will go out to anyone who filed their 2020 income tax return electronically. Payments will be made to the same bank account where the 2020 income tax refund was deposited.
  • Physical debit card will go to anyone who filed their 2020 income tax return with a paper form.
  • If a person filed their 2020 income tax return electronically, but they have since changed their bank account number or bank altogether, then they will receive a debit card.

3. When should the money arrive?

  • Direct deposit payments started to roll out between Oct. 7 and Oct. 25. But don’t worry: Additional direct deposits are being sent out between Oct. 28 and Nov. 14.
  • For those who changed their banks or bank account numbers from when they electronically filed their 2020 income tax returns, they will have to wait a little longer. Their payments should arrive in a debit card from Dec. 17 through Jan. 14.
  • If anyone received a Golden State Stimulus check in the mail in 2021, they too can expect a physical debit card. Those are expected to arrive between Oct. 24 through Dec. 10. Remaining cards will be sent out through Jan. 14.