Home Personal Finance How to Activate a California Middle Class Tax Refund Card

How to Activate a California Middle Class Tax Refund Card

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California’s Middle Class Tax Refund (MCTR) program offered one-time relief to millions of eligible taxpayers. Some of those payments were sent in the form of prepaid debit cards, and of those, half of the cards haven’t been activated yet. If you are one of them, the process to activate a California Middle Class Tax Refund card is detailed below.

Who didn’t get the relief money?

Taxpayers who filed their 2020 state tax return on time and had income no more than $250,000 ($500,000 for couples or heads of households), qualified for the MCTR, ranging from $200 to $1,050 depending on their income level and tax-filing status.

California’s FTB (Franchise Tax Board) issued the majority of payments between October 2022 and February 2023, distributing $9.2 billion to about 16.8 million taxpayers.

About 7.2 million payments were sent directly into the bank accounts of eligible households, while the remaining 9.6 million payments were issued as prepaid debit cards. A March 7 audit report, however, found that a million debit cards, worth about $611 million, haven’t been activated as of January 2024.

To address this, the state is urging taxpayers to activate their California Middle Class Tax Refund card to access the relief money. The state is also urging taxpayers who haven’t yet received their card to contact the FTB for the re-issue of the card.

According to FTB, an unspecified number of cards were not distributed due to pending updated address information. Also, some cards haven’t been activated because the recipients mistook the mail carrying the debit card as junk mail.

How do you activate a California Middle Class Tax Refund card?

The FTB is sending reminder letters to taxpayers who haven’t yet activated their card, including instructions on how to activate a California Middle Class Tax Refund card. You can activate your card by:

  • Calling 1-800-240-0223 to create a 4-digit PIN. You can also call the same number to check the amount.
  • After activating your card, you need to check the card’s fee schedule, transaction limits and the cardholder agreement.
  • You need to sign the back of your card to use it.

After you have activated your MCTR card, it can be used to shop in-store and online where Visa Debit Cards are accepted. You can get cash back at participating merchants when you make PIN debit purchases.

You can also withdraw cash from the card from a surcharge-free in-network ATM. Recipients can also transfer the funds on their card to any bank account.

To find out whether or not the card was issued to you, call Money Network, the agency managing the MCTR payment, at (800) 240-0223. You will have to navigate through a series of automated prompts and provide the last six digits of your Social Security number and your ZIP Code. You can request a new card if you haven’t received the card issued earlier.

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Aman Jain
Personal Finance Writer

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