California middle class tax refund: Millions still awaiting filings

In October, millions of Californians were to begin receiving relief payments of up to $1,050 under the state’s “Middle Class Tax Refund.” But now it’s November and many Golden State residents are still waiting.

California, which posted a record surplus of $97 billion, provides rebates of between $200 and $1,050 to individuals earning less than $250,000 a year and households earning less than $500,000.

Californians will receive their Middle Class Tax (MCTR) refund by direct deposit or debit card.

Wondering if you’ll get your refund in time for the holidays? The state Franchise Tax Board has published a schedule for issuing payments. The board said on Friday it had issued 4.5 million direct deposits and mailed 905,000 debit cards so far.

Generally, direct deposit payments will be made to eligible taxpayers who filed their 2020 tax return electronically and received their tax refund by direct deposit. MCTR debit card payments must be mailed to other eligible taxpayers.

If you qualify for MCTR, expect to receive your payment in the mail in the form of a debit card if you:

  • File a paper return
  • Had a balance owing
  • You received your Golden State Stimulus (GSS) payment by check
  • You received your tax refund by check, regardless of reporting method
  • You received your 2020 tax refund by direct deposit, but you have since changed your banking institution or bank account number
  • You received an advance payment from your tax service provider or you paid your tax preparer fee using your tax refund

For those who do not fall into the above categories, the MCTR is issued via direct deposit for those who have already received Golden State Stimulus (GSS) payments during the pandemic. These direct deposits were to be made between October 7 and October 25.

For taxpayers who have not received the Golden State Stimulus but are eligible for the MCTR, their direct deposits must occur by November 14.

MCTR debit card payments for Californians who received the Golden State Stimulus were to be mailed between Oct. 24 and Dec. 10. For those who did not receive the stimulus but are eligible for MCTR, the remaining debit cards must be mailed out by January 14.

If you’ve changed your banking information since filing your 2020 tax return, you’ll receive a debit card. Debit cards for this group will be mailed between December 17 and January 14.

Debit cards are sent in installments, by last name:

  • Recipients of GSS I or II checks (last name starting with A to E) Oct. 24-Nov. 5
  • Recipients of GSS I or II checks (surname beginning with F – M) Nov. 6-Nov. 19
  • Recipients of GSS I or II checks (surname beginning with N – V) Nov. 20 – Dec. 3
  • Recipients of GSS I or II checks (last name starting with W to Z) December 4-10
  • Non-ESG beneficiaries (last name starting with A to K) from December 5 to December 17
  • Non-ESG recipients (last name starting with L – Z) will be announced after November 21
  • Direct deposit recipients who have changed their banking information since filing their 2020 tax return: Dec. 17-Jan. 14

About two-thirds of US states have passed some kind of tax relief this year. The tax-cutting trend has been fueled by record state surpluses and strong state revenue growth after an initial downturn during the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican-led states have been more likely to approve permanent tax rate cuts. Many Democratic states like California, meanwhile, have opted for one-time tax breaks. A bipartisan set of states have also suspended gasoline taxes or reduced sales taxes on groceries.

The amount Californians receive as part of the middle class tax refund is based on 2020 state tax returns, filing status and dependents. Taxpayers can find a tool to estimate the amount they will receive at

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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