Gas Price Stimulus: Everything To Know About Checks Coming in California

Young Caucasian White long-haired woman refueling a car at the gas station. stock photo
Alex Potemkin /

California has been ground zero for the fuel inflation crisis since gas prices first started rising above the pandemic lows of roughly $2 per gallon — then $3, $4, $5, and even over $6 per gallon in parts of the West. 

Prices have since cooled and the national average is down to $4.16. But the average price in California is $5.56, making it the only state still over $5.50 — and that’s a significant improvement. 

When prices peaked on June 14, Californians paid an average of $6.44 per gallon. It was well over $7 in some counties at the summer’s high point and remains over $6 in some parts of the state today. 

It has been a long and grueling summer in the Golden State, indeed — but at long last, help is on the way.

The Middle-Class Tax Refund Will Give Direct Payments to Millions

When Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the state’s 2022-23 budget, the package included the Middle-Class Tax Refund. According to Forbes, it authorized rebates in the form of direct payments to 23 million Californians — more than half the state’s population.

When fuel prices were at their peak, Newsom suggested issuing gas cards to residents, a move that Curbed said: “would have been a subsidy for the fossil-fuel industry.” Lawmakers opted instead for direct payments that cash-strapped residents could use for other necessities, too.

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How Much Will People Receive? 

Eligible residents will receive between $200-$1,050 depending on household makeup and the recipient’s adjusted gross income listed on their 2020 state tax return. Households with income higher than a half-million dollars per year will not receive a rebate. Here’s the breakdown for everyone else:

Joint filers: 

  • $150,000 or less: $1,050 with a dependent or $700 without 
  • $150,001-$250,000: $750 or $500
  • $250,001-$500,000: $600 or $400

Individual filers: 

  • $75,000 or less: $700 with a dependent or $350 without
  • $150,001-$250,000: $500 or $250
  • $250,001-$500,000: $400 or $200

Head of household or surviving spouse: 

  • $150,000 or less: $700 with a dependent or $350 without 
  • $150,001-$250,000: $500 or $250
  • $250,001-$500,000: $400 or $200

Who is Eligible? 

Aside from meeting the stated income limits, eligible recipients must have filed a complete 2020 state tax return by Oct. 15, 2021. If you applied for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) but hadn’t yet received it by Oct. 15, 2021, you can still qualify for the rebate if you filed your complete 2020 return by Feb. 15, 2022. 

Other requirements include:

  • You must be a California resident on the date that payment is issued
  • You must not have been eligible to be claimed as a dependent in tax year 2020
  • You must have been a California resident for at least six months in tax year 2020

So, When Can I Expect My Check? 

Eligible recipients will start receiving payments in October and the state will have issued all rebates by January 2023. If you filed your 2020 return electronically and received a refund through direct deposit, you’ll get your rebate the same way. Otherwise, you’ll get your payment on a debit card.

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