California Stimulus Checks 2023: Golden State Stimulus & Middle Class Tax Refunds

California is one of the most populous states and has the largest economy in the United States with a gross state product (GSP) of $3.37 trillion in 2021.

If California were an independent country, it would be the 5th largest economic power behind only the United States, China, Japan and Germany!

It may come as no surprise that California has been issuing financial assistance in the form of stimulus checks for the last year or so – one of the benefits of a large economy is a large budget.

Thus far, the stimulus checks have been known as Golden State Stimulus and Golden State Stimulus II checks and they will be joined along with a Middle Class Tax Refund that started going out in November 2022.

Table of Contents
  1. What is the Middle Class Tax Refund?
    1. Who is eligible for the Middle Class Tax Refund?
    2. How much is the Middle Class Tax Refund?
    3. How Will I Get Paid the MCTR?
    4. How to Contact California about the MCTR
  2. Golden State Stimulus Checks
    1. Golden State Stimulus (GSS I)
    2. Golden State Stimulus II (GSS II)
  3. Will There Be More Golden State Stimulus Checks?

What is the Middle Class Tax Refund?

The Middle Class Tax Refund is a stimulus check that was passed into law in the 2022-2023 budget for the state of California. The stimulus check is a cash payment of $350 to $1,050 to more than half the residents of the state of California.

The Middle Class Tax Refund was marketed as an inflation relief payment, rather than a pandemic assistance payment. It was a smart move as much of the country looks to move beyond the pandemic (and inflation is less political!).

As of 11/18/2022, there were nearly 7 million direct deposits and over 3.5 million debit cards issued with a total sum of $5.7 billion sent to 19.5 million people. If you are eligible, you should expect to receive your stimulus check between October 2022 and January 2023. The MCTR website includes a calculator to estimate your amount.

Who is eligible for the Middle Class Tax Refund?

If you are a resident of California for at least six months in 2020 and you have filed your 2020 state tax return by October 15, 2021 – you may be eligible. Next, you can’t be a dependent on another return and you must still be a resident of California at the time the stimulus check is paid.

If all those are true, your amount is based on your income:

How much is the Middle Class Tax Refund?

Single Filers:

Adjusted Gross IncomePayment with
Dependent
Payment without
Dependent
$75,000 or less$700$350
$75,001 to $125,000$500$250
$125,001 to $250,000$400$200
$250,001 or moreNot qualifiedNot qualified

Married Filing Jointly:

Adjusted Gross IncomePayment with
Dependent
Payment without
Dependent
$150,000 or less$1,050$700
$150,001 to $250,000$750$500
$250,001 to $500,000$600$400
$500,001 or moreNot qualifiedNot qualified

Head of Household:

Adjusted Gross IncomePayment with
Dependent
Payment without
Dependent
$150,000 or less$700$350
$150,001 to $250,000$500$250
$250,001 to $500,000$400$200
$500,001 or moreNot qualifiedNot qualified

How Will I Get Paid the MCTR?

It will be paid by direct deposit or a debit card, issued by Money Network. The debit card will come in a plain envelope with a return address from Omaha, NE.

If you e-filed your tax return and elected to receive your refund by direct deposit, the payment will be made the same way. If you received a check, you’ll receive a debit card to your address on file.

How to Contact California about the MCTR

If you need reach someone to ask about your stimulus check, you can use online chat at mctrpayment.com during weekdays from 8AM to 5PM.

Or you can call customer support at 800-542-9332 on weekdays from 8AM to 5PM.

Golden State Stimulus Checks

The Golden State Stimulus was a stimulus check issued in early 2021 and if you were eligible, you should have received it by now. There were two such stimulus checks but they were structured differently.

We will briefly explain how they worked:

Golden State Stimulus (GSS I)

The Golden State Stimulus check was a one-time check based on your 2020 tax return. It had the same eligibility criteria as the Middle Class Tax Refund with lower income limits.

Your amount was either $600 or $1,200 based on your California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) eligibility and income limits. You would’ve received this payment by direct deposit or a paper check, you didn’t have to do anything special to receive it.

If you were eligible and did NOT receive it, you should contact the state. You can call 800-852-5711
or 916-845-6500 (outside the U.S.) on weekdays from 8AM to 5PM. Or sign into MyFTB to chat on weekdays 8AM to 5PM.

Golden State Stimulus II (GSS II)

The Golden State Stimulus II check was another one-time check of $500, $600, or $1,100 based on your 2020 tax return as well as your eligibility for GSS I. Again, you didn’t have to do anything to claim it as it was simply mailed to you (or direct deposited) based on the last three digits of your ZIP code.

If you qualified for GSS I and claimed a dependent, you received $500.

If you did not qualify for GSS I and did not claim a dependent, you received $600.

If you did not qualify for GSS I and claimed a dependent, you received $1,100.

Finally, if you qualified for GSS I and did not claim a dependent, you did not qualify for GSS II.

Will There Be More Golden State Stimulus Checks?

It’s hard to know if California will continue to issue more stimulus checks but with the budget set for 2022 – 2023, it’s even harder to say. We will keep this updated with any information we find about future stimulus checks out of the state of California.

But with a massive budget, never say never!

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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