In summary

California has been sending $600 one-time Golden State Stimulus payments to millions of low-income households. Now Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to expand the program to California’s middle class. Here’s a breakdown of who would get the money if the Legislature approves his plan.

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Updated May 17, 2021, with the governor’s budget proposal.

If you didn’t qualify for the first round of California’s $600 Golden State Stimulus checks, you might have another chance.

In February, lawmakers approved Newsom’s Golden State Stimulus program to send $600 payments to millions of California’s lowest-income workers. Now, with California overflowing in tax revenue from its wealthiest residents and federal relief dollars, he wants to send the payments to California’s middle class. This would triple the investment to $11.9 billion.

“No state, including this state, has ever rebated more direct dollars back into the pockets of taxpayers,” Newsom said Friday while revealing his revised spending plan for the 2021-22 tax year. Ironically, his administration claims the tax rebates help California to meet a decades-old spending limit passed by anti-tax advocates.

Taxpayers earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income will qualify for a California stimulus check if lawmakers approve Newsom’s plan. In cases where two taxpayers file jointly, the threshold is $75,000 for their combined incomes. The governor says that covers 78% of California taxpayers and will benefit two in three Californians.

Families with at least one child or other dependent will get an extra $500 boost. Families with undocumented workers who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or ITIN, will get a $1,000 boost if they have at least one dependent. Undocumented immigrants have been excluded from thousands of dollars in federal stimulus checks, and potentially tens of thousands in unemployment benefits.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Newsom said. “When the federal government was not able to provide those supports, the state of California will step in to do what we can.”

People who received the first round of $600 Golden State payments wouldn’t be eligible for the second, though taxpayers with dependents who received the first round of California stimulus checks will automatically be sent the $500 boost.

Lawmakers have until June 15 to pass a finalized budget. If Newsom’s expansion is approved, the administration hopes payments could go out within a matter of weeks.

Here’s who would be eligible for the Golden State Stimulus check under Newsom’s expansion:

First round of California stimulus checks

In the first round of California stimulus check eligibility, the state estimated that 5.7 million checks would go to low-income California taxpayers earning up to $30,000 per year, families with children enrolled in CalWORKS, and elderly, blind and disabled recipients of Supplemental Security Income or the state’s Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants. 

Undocumented tax filers were eligible if they made up to $75,000 in annual income. If they made less than $30,000, they could get $1,200. 

As of early May, the state’s tax agency had distributed 2.5 million payments worth $1.6 billion, with more payments pending. The agency estimated that it had received around 3.3 million eligible tax returns, including around 470,000 undocumented tax filers. 

The state’s Department of Social Services has sent out payments to nearly 310,000 CalWorks households. SSI/SSP and CAPI recipients can expect to begin receiving their payments later this month, according to a department spokesperson.

Here’s who is currently eligible for the Golden State Stimulus:

This article is part of the California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequality and economic survival in California.

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Jackie covers income inequity and economic survival for the The California Divide collaboration. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in 2021 for a Reuters data-driven investigative...