California Stimulus Checks: More Debit Cards Are On the Way

If your last name begins with N to V, a California stimulus payment debit card could be in your mailbox soon.

woman holding money in her hands
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The one-time California stimulus payments – formally known as Middle Class Tax Refunds – range from $200 to $1,050 (the exact amount depends on the filing status and income reported on your 2020 California tax return, and whether you have any dependents). Payments started in October, but there are still a lot of people waiting for their stimulus payment. Fortunately, though, some Californians won't have to wait much longer. If your last name begins with N to V, you might see a debit card in your mailbox soon.

California isn't alone when it comes to payments to residents. A number of other states are sending stimulus checks in 2022 as well, including Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia to name a few. In most cases, these state stimulus payments are designed to help residents dealing with high inflation, and funding for them typically comes from budget surpluses or federal COVID-relief funds. (A handful of states also enacted gas tax holidays, suspended grocery taxes, or otherwise cut taxes to help their residents.)

For a broader look at California taxes, see the California State Tax Guide.

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Who Will Get a California Stimulus Check?

You're eligible to receive a California stimulus check payment if you:

  • Filed a 2020 California income tax return by October 15, 2021;
  • Reported an adjusted gross income on your 2020 California tax return of $250,000 or less if you filed as a single person or married person filing a separate tax return, or $500,000 or less for anyone else;
  • Weren't claimed as a dependent on anyone else's 2020 tax return;
  • Were a California resident for at least six months in 2020; and
  • Are a California resident on the date your payment is issued.

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) has a handy online tool (opens in new tab) that lets you check your eligibility and get an estimate of your stimulus payment amount.

How Will You Receive Your California Stimulus Payment?

There are two ways to receive a California stimulus payment – by direct deposit or by debit card. If you filed your 2020 California tax return electronically and received a California tax refund by direct deposit, then you'll generally receive your stimulus payment by direct deposit, too. You can also expect a direct deposit payment if you previously received a Golden State Stimulus (GSS) payment in 2021 or early this year via that payment method.

Most other people who are eligible for a payment will receive a debit card in the mail for the appropriate amount. You will also get a debit card if you received a 2020 California tax refund by direct deposit but changed banks or your bank account number since then. People who received an advance payment from a tax service provider or paid a tax preparer's fee with a tax refund will also get a debit card in the mail.

If you get a debit card in the mail, you can activate the card online (opens in new tab) or by calling 1-800-240-0223.

When Will California Stimulus Payments Be Sent?

Direct deposit payments to people who previously received GSS direct deposit payments began on October 7, 2022. The FTB sent those payments through October 25. For people who didn't previously receive a GSS payment by direct deposit, but who otherwise qualify for direct deposit stimulus payments now, payments began again on October 28 and ran through November 14.

According to the FTB, direct deposit payments typically show up in your bank account within three to five business days from the issue date. However, that estimate may vary on a bank-by-bank basis.

It will take longer to send the debit cards. The FTB's plan is to send cards in batches, generally depending on whether you previously received a GSS and your last name. According to the schedule, eligible people who previously received a GSS payment via debit card with a last name beginning with A to E were issued a California stimulus check debit card between October 24 and November 5, 2022. If you're last name begins with a letter from F to M, your card was issued between November 6 and 19. Previous GSS debit card recipients with last names beginning with N to V will be issued a stimulus debit card between November 20 and December 3, while people with last names starting with W to Z will have to wait until December 4 to 10.

There's a separate schedule for people who didn't previously receive a GSS debit card but are slated to receive one for their California stimulus payment. If your last name begins with A to K, your stimulus debit card will be issued between December 5 and 17. Payments will go out from December 19 to December 31 if your last name is in the L to Z range.

If you're getting a debit card because you changed your bank or bank account since filing your 2020 California income tax return, then your California stimulus payment debit card will be issued between December 17, 2022, and January 14, 2023.

It can take up to two weeks from the expected issue date before you actually receive your debit card in the mail. Also note that the FTB will mail a debit card to the latest address it has on file, which is usually the address on your most recent California tax return. So, if you recently moved, let the FTB know where you're now living. You can edit your mailing information through the MyFTB portal (opens in new tab) or contact the agency through its other official channels (opens in new tab). However, be aware may take longer to process your stimulus payment if you had a change of address.

Rocky Mengle
Senior Tax Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rocky is a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.