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California stimulus checks sent today: What to know about the $600, $1,100 payments

Roughly 2 million California residents received another stimulus check through the Golden State Stimulus program today.

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California stimulus checks provide direct cash relief to those hit hardest by the pandemic. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

While a fourth stimulus check isn't on the table for Americans this year, California isn't holding back on additional relief aid for its residents. Today, a batch of Golden State Stimulus II payments arrived in bank accounts across California. The first round -- amounting to 600,000 payments -- went out on Aug. 27; today's batch is much larger, with at least 2 million Californians receiving the benefit. 

Approximately two-thirds of California taxpayers are eligible for a payment of $600, and some qualifying families received an additional $500. These state-only checks are part of the $100 billion "California Comeback Plan" aimed at providing immediate relief to families and businesses that have been the most negatively impacted by the pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom's office called it "the biggest state tax rebate in American history." 

Keep reading to find out if you're eligible for a Golden State Stimulus II check, what you need to do to get your money and when your check could arrive. Also, here's everything you need to know about the 2021 child tax credit, which is providing the vast majority of families across the US with advance monthly checks to help cover expenses and basic necessities. 

Do I qualify for the $600 or $1,100 stimulus payment?

The Golden State Stimulus II payments are different from the Golden State Stimulus I payments that went out earlier this year. GSS I payments -- a one-time check of either $600 or $1,200 -- went out to those who typically earned less than $30,000 and received the state's Earned Income Tax Credit, or CalEITC, or those who filed their taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number, or ITIN

GSS II has been expanded so that more Californians qualify. You're eligible for a $600 payment if you've been a California resident for more than half of the 2020 tax year (you must still be a California resident on the date the payment is issued). You need to also meet the following requirements:

  • You filed your 2020 taxes by Oct. 15, 2021. 
  • Your California Adjusted Gross Income, or CA AGI, was $75,000 or less for the 2020 tax year.
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer. 

If you don't qualify for GSS II, see if you might be eligible for GSS I. Californians who received the earlier GSS I payment could be eligible for a GSS II check for $500 or $1,000 only if they claimed a qualifying child or relative as a dependent on their 2020 tax return. 

Besides those who already received GSS I and have no dependents, there are others who are excluded from GSS II payments. Californians whose income is exclusively from other benefits, like Social Security, CalWorks, unemployment or state disability, do not qualify. For more information, check out the Franchise Tax Board's help page

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How do I find out the size of my payment? 

For most Californians who qualify, you do not need to do anything to receive GSS II other than file your 2020 tax return. If you still need to file, you can find different options for filing online, on paper or in person. 

If you'd like to see if you qualify, or estimate the amount of your GSS II, you can go to the Franchise Tax Board estimator. If you have a Social Security number and meet all the GSS II requirements above, you should receive $600 if you had no dependents, and $1,100 if you claimed at least one dependent. Note that some of the payment amounts change depending on whether you received GSS I, whether you have an SSN or ITIN and if you are married filing separately. 

When will my Golden State Stimulus II payment be disbursed?

California's stimulus payments are going out twice a month, or about every two weeks, though some may go out earlier or later. Most direct payments will be issued before Oct. 15. The latest payment was sent Sept. 17.

If you filed a state tax return after Aug. 20, you might have to wait at least 45 days for the return to be processed and have a check issued. 

Will my check come in the mail or be direct deposited in my bank?

Those who qualify and already set up direct deposit when filing their 2020 tax return can expect an electronic payment. Those who don't have direct deposit set up with the state will receive a paper check. 

Could my stimulus check be seized or offset to cover any debt I owe?

According to the Franchise Tax Board, the state's stimulus payment is not subject to garnishment for child support or spousal support, for example, or offset for debts owed to state agencies.

Here's everything we know about the other stimulus aid that might be coming your way. And here's more about the expiration of pandemic-era unemployment benefits