California’s Middle Class Tax Refund is entering the final two weeks of distribution with many people still wondering where their payments are.
The state has previously said it will wrap up the $9.5 billion refund program by mid-January. So far, 15,414,790 payments have been sent to qualifying taxpayers via direct deposit or debit card. Another 2.6 million recipients are still in the pipeline as of Dec. 23, according to the Franchise Tax Board.
Thanks to readers like David and Anita Jessup, we have another tip to share regarding missing payments and how to track their status.
Like dozens of others who reached out to the Southern California News Group, the Jessups said they spent many hours on the phone and online trying to find their refund, all to no avail.
The Fountain Valley residents say they are qualified recipients. They earn less than the $500,000 cap; they filed their 2020 tax returns electronically, on time and got a small refund. And like millions of other joint filers in the state, they should be getting an inflation rebate of $700.
That money is no trivial amount for many Californians who have struggled with high inflation that escalated costs for things like groceries, household goods and utility bills.
Three months into the distribution cycle, the Jessups “excruciating” search for answers finally came to a conclusion on Wednesday.
They are getting a payment, which should land in their bank account within two weeks. The crux of their problem is they are NOT getting a debit card, a key detail that affected their MCTR search criteria.
Here’s how they figured it out.
After many repeated phone calls to Money Network, the debit card distributor at 800-542-9332, Anita Jessup finally connected to a human.
“The person found no record for either my husband or myself and told us we need to contact the FTB directly,” Anita wrote Wednesday, Dec. 28.
Then David Jessup remembered something. He had an online account with the tax board.
“I was able to have an online chat with FTB about my specific situation,” he wrote us. “I was told that a direct deposit had been initiated to my bank account and to wait 2-4 weeks for it to process. So hopefully, I’ll see the MCTR soon.”
Before you click over to ftb.ca.gov/myftb to create an account and check your MCTR status, know that the registration portal for individual taxpayers was scheduled to be down for “system maintenance” until 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3. (You can still read the website and its myriad pages on taxation, the MCTR and other things.)
According to David Jessup, once you’re registered with an FTB account, you can use an online chat mechanism to have an agent check your MCTR status. Happy hunting, folks, and please let me know how it worked for you. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reader Deninge Sims was among the email respondents who said she’s still waiting for her payment.
“I just don’t understand why they make the announcement about this stimulus and have to wait almost six to nine months to get it in the first,” she said. “I needed the money when they announced it; as well as today. Now I have to find another way to pay this high energy bill…”
Here are some final tips and reminders regarding the inflation refund:
What is it: California is sending $9.5 billion in inflation relief funds to roughly 18 million taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of less than $500,000. Payments range from $200 for high-income earners all the way up to $1,050 for two-filing households with a qualifying dependent.
Taxpayers only: The payments and their amounts are based on tax returns filed for 2020 — not 2021 — because many of those late filers (in 2022) were still being processed. If you owed money to the state back in 2021 or received no refund, you’re at the back of the distribution list for the MCTR.
How to cash the debit card: After activating it and assigning a PIN number (call 1-800-240-0223), you’ll need to get online and look up an in-network ATM in your neighborhood. The lookup site for in-network ATMs is mctrpayment.com.
Debit card limitations: Recipients can transfer only $600 per day to another financial account, so if your MCTR payment is for, say, $700, you’ll need to withdraw the cash over two days, at a minimum. Daily ATM withdrawals are often limited to $300 or less.
Skip the card: Another reader, Thomas Studwell, reminds recipients that you can ditch the card for a paper check. He wrote:
“Per the Franchise Tax Board’s website, I sent the debit card back to Franchise Tax Board, P.O. Box 1237, Rancho Cordova, CA. 95741-1237 with a letter declining the card, requesting either a check or an electronic fund transfer directly to my bank account and a canceled check with my bank account information. I sent the card via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. I’ll see what happens, but I’m not holding my breath.”
The state has set up a page at the FTB website where residents can check eligibility and how much they will receive.