Update: Twitter users reporting checks are hitting bank accounts

After months of anticipation, the Middle Class Tax Refund – also known as inflation relief payments – are being sent out directly to California residents starting Friday, Oct. 7.

State legislators approved the plan to send direct payments to an estimated 23 million Californians back in June. Since then, the state’s Franchise Tax Bureau has slowly released information about who qualifies, how much each recipient qualifies for, and when the batches of payments will go out.

If you haven’t been following the updates closely, let’s get you up to speed.

Do I qualify?

In order to receive an inflation relief payment, you must have:

  • Been a California resident for most of 2020 and are a resident now
  • Filed your 2020 taxes by Oct. 15, 2021
  • Made less than $250,001 in 2020 as an individual or less than $500,001 as a joint filer

That’s the short version, but we lay out the requirements in more detail here.

How much will I get?

Payments can be as small as $200 or as large as $1,050. How much you receive depends on three factors: your income, your tax filing status, and whether or not you have dependents.

We break down each scenario in the chart below. First, find your tax filing status (individual, filing jointly, etc.), then determine the appropriate row for your income and the appropriate column for your dependent status.

Individual tax filers

Gross income on 2020 taxesWithout dependentWith at least 1 dependent
$75,000 or less$350$700
$75,001 to $125,000$250$500
$125,001 to $250,000$200$400

Joint tax filers

Gross income on 2020 taxesWithout dependentWith at least 1 dependent
$150,000 or less$700$1,050
$150,001 to $250,000$500$750
$250,001 to $500,000$400$600

Head of household or surviving spouse

Gross income on 2020 taxesWithout dependentWith at least 1 dependent
$150,000 or less$350$700
$150,001 to $250,000$250$500
$250,001 to $500,000$200$400

How will I get paid?

The state is sending out payments in two ways: direct deposit and debit card in the mail.

If you filed your 2020 taxes electronically and you received a tax refund by direct deposit, then you can expect to receive your Middle Class Tax Refund by direct deposit as well, the Franchise Tax Board said.

Pretty much everyone else will be getting a debit card, the agency said. (We outline the criteria in greater detail here.)

When will I get my payment? Who gets paid first?

The state is sending out the payments in waves. When you get paid depends on the method with which you’re getting paid (see section above).

The earliest direct deposits will go out Friday, Oct. 7, to people who received a Golden State Stimulus (GSS) payment last year by direct deposit. (The Golden State Stimulus program sent money directly to low-income state residents with GSS I, and then to people earning less than $75,000 with GSS II.)

The last payments should be sent out by Jan. 15, 2023, at the latest, according to the Franchise Tax Board.

Use the chart below to see when you can expect your payment:

Payment datePayment typeRecipients
Oct. 7 – Oct. 25, 2022Direct depositReceived Golden State Stimulus (I or II) by direct deposit
Oct. 28 – Nov. 14, 2022Direct depositReceived 2020 state tax refund by direct deposit, but didn’t get GSS
Oct. 25 – Dec. 10, 2022Debit cardReceived Golden State Stimulus by debit card
By Jan. 15, 2023Debit cardTaxpayers who don’t fall into above categories

What if my income has changed?

A lot can change in two years. What if you make significantly less now than you did in 2020? Could you qualify for a larger payment?

“No,” the California Franchise Tax Board tells Nexstar. “The Middle Class Tax Refund (MCTR) legislation requires eligibility to be based on a complete filed 2020 California state income tax return.”

That means regardless of any change in income – lower or higher – you’re locked into receiving the payment size that corresponds with your 2020 income. There is no way to appeal the Franchise Tax Board for an exception.

What if I live off of social security or disability income? Do I qualify?

With the Golden State Stimulus payments in 2021, people whose sole source of income was public assistance were not eligible for a payment, because their tax forms showed $0 of California Adjusted Gross Income (or CA AGI). Californians needed between $1 and $75,000 of income to qualify for the Golden State Stimulus.

However, with the Middle Class Tax Refund this year, even people who reported $0 of AGI on their 2020 taxes qualify for a payment.

An individual who relies exclusively on social security or disability as their income, and therefore had a CA AGI or $0 in 2020, will receive $350 if they do not claim a dependent, or $700 if they have at least one dependent, according to the Franchise Tax Bureau.