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California stimulus check status, amount, eligibility and latest updates

California stimulus check status, amount, eligibility and latest updates
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As Americans await the possibility of a fourth stimulus check, many California residents are set to receive a state-specific relief payment known as the Golden State Stimulus. The Golden State Stimulus is the product of an extra $10.3 billion in revenue from the state’s progressive income tax. 

While the first phase of this benefit program distributed checks totaling $600 or $1,200 to some Californians, a second round of payments recently passed and expands eligibility to include nearly two-thirds of all state residents. 

But who gets what is confusing, as payouts for Golden State Stimulus II depend on the number of dependents you claim and whether you were eligible for the first round (Golden State Stimulus I). Here’s everything you should know about California’s stimulus checks. 

California stimulus check eligibility

To qualify for either Golden State Stimulus I or II, you must file a 2020 tax return by Oct. 15. From there, the eligibility requirements differ depending on income and dependents. 

For Golden State Stimulus I, you must meet the following criteria

  • You receive CalEITC (earned income tax credit) or make less than $75,000 per year and file with an ITIN. To qualify for CalEITC, you must earn at least $30,000 in taxable income in 2020, be 18 years or older or have a qualifying child, and file as a status other than “married or “registered domestic partner filing separate.” 
  • You lived in California for more than half of 2020. 
  • You are a California resident on the date that checks are distributed. 
  • You aren’t eligible to be claimed as a dependent by someone else. 

Note that an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) allows undocumented workers who do not have Social Security numbers to file taxes, meaning this group is eligible for relief via Golden State Stimulus I (and possibly Golden State Stimulus II). 

For Golden State Stimulus II, you must meet the following criteria

  • You earned wages between $0 and $75,000 in 2020 and have a California Adjusted Gross Income (found on Line 17 of Form 540 or Line 16 of Form 540 2EZ) between $1 and $75,000. 
  • You were a California resident for more than half of 2020. 
  • You are a California resident on the date payments are distributed. 
  • You can’t be claimed as a dependent by someone else. 

Some individuals and families who received the first stimulus payment may also be eligible for the second — those who claimed a dependent on their 2020 taxes — but many will qualify only for one or the other. 

California stimulus check amount

Golden State Stimulus I provided either $600 or $1,200 to eligible individuals depending on their tax filing status. Those who receive CalEITC, file with an ITIN and make $75,000 or less (or who file a joint return with someone who meets these criteria) qualified for $1,200 payments. All other Golden State Stimulus I recipients got $600. 

For Golden State Stimulus II, checks total $500, $600, or $1,100 for taxpayers who file with SSNs. Here’s how that breaks down: 

  • If you qualified for the first stimulus check and claimed a dependent in 2020, you’ll get a $500 additional payment in this round. 
  • If you did not qualify for the first stimulus check and did not claim dependents in 2020, you’ll get $600 in this round. 
  • If you did not qualify for the first stimulus check and claimed dependents in 2020, you’ll get $1,100 in this round. 

Caliornians filing with ITINs who received Golden State Stimulus I and who claimed dependents in 2020 will receive $1,000 in this round as well. 

California stimulus check timeline

Golden State Stimulus I has largely been paid out, with the first round of direct deposits and paper checks distributed after April 15. However, the exact date of your payment depends on when you filed your 2020 tax return. If you filed after April 23, expect to wait 45 days after your return has been processed to receive a direct deposit and 60 days for a paper check. 

Golden State Stimulus II was approved this summer, and payments are expected to begin in September 2021. 

How to get your California stimulus payment

The only thing you need to do to claim your Golden State Stimulus payment is file a 2020 tax return by Oct. 15. The State of California Franchise Tax Board has several tools available to help you estimate your payment amount and distribution timeframe: 

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.