Nearly $1 Billion in California Tax Rebates Unclaimed. Did You Get Yours? - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Nearly $1 Billion in California Tax Rebates Unclaimed. Did You Get Yours?

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About $840 million in a state tax rebate program has gone unclaimed by Californians who were mailed debit cards last year containing their share of the Middle Class Tax Refund.

As of April 1, 17% of the 9.6 million cards have yet to be activated, the Franchise Tax Board told GV Wire.

The state’s vendor, Money Network, has started sending out reminder letters to taxpayers who have not yet activated their cards, the tax board said. As of the end of March, Money Network had sent out about 766,000 reminder letters, with more to go out in April and May, the board said.

The debit cards must be activated before April 2026.

The goal of the Middle Class Tax Refund was to help Californians who were struggling last year with higher costs due to inflation, including higher gasoline prices.

About 7.2 million California taxpayers who had filed their 2020 tax returns electronically or received a direct deposit refund on their 2020 taxes got the tax rebate deposited directly into their bank accounts. The Franchise Tax Board said that amount totaled about $4 billion.

For 9.6 million other California taxpayers, refunds totaling $5.2 billion went out on debit cards mailed last year.

Scam? Confusion? Not All Cards Activated

Even though the state trumpeted the program when it was approved, postings on social media sites indicated that there was a fair amount of confusion over the program. Some people called it a “scam,” and others reported that their cards arrived with the funds already withdrawn

Some people thought it was an unwanted credit card offer and tossed the debit card into the trash, even though the cards were mailed in an envelope that prominently displayed the following: “Not a bill or advertisement. Important information about your Middle Class Tax Refund.”

The refund program is open to taxpayers whose annual income in 2020 was less than $500,000, and the rebate was on a sliding scale. Lower-income taxpayers with dependents could receive a rebate of up to $1,050, while higher-income, single people might receive only $200.

For those people who have procrastinated on filing their income tax returns for 2022, there’s good news: The Middle Class Tax Refund does not need to be declared as taxable income, the IRS has determined.

And, in more good news for late tax filers, residents in California counties hit hard by the weather or flooding won’t have to file with the IRS or state until Oct. 16, 2023.

If you think you are eligible for a tax refund but haven’t received a debit card or a reminder letter, you can call Money Network at this number: (800) 240-0223.

For frequently asked questions about the rebate program, call (800) 542-9332 or go to the Franchise Tax Board refund program website.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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