$125M Inflation Relief Money from California Not Yet Claimed: How to Claim It Now

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It’s been more than a year since California started sending inflation relief money to residents. More than 7 million payments were sent out, but of those more than 600,000 people have not yet claimed the inflation relief money from California. Such people, however, still have time to claim the money.

Middle Class Tax Refund: how to claim it

California issued the inflation relief money, officially called the Middle Class Tax Refund, from October 2022 to September 2023. The payments sent by direct deposit and debit cards ranged from $200 to $1,050.

Some 7.2 million residents received the Middle Class Tax Refund directly into their bank accounts, totaling about $4 billion. About 9.6 million payments were sent through debit cards, and of those more than 90% have been activated, and about 3.5% were converted to checks.

Of the 90% of the cards that have been activated or used, more than half still have some money left, while about 46% of the cards have a balance of zero, according to California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB).  

Further analysis by the FTB revealed that about 624,000 debit cards have not been used, totaling about $125 million. Those who haven’t yet claimed their inflation relief money from California don’t need to worry.

They can still activate their cards by April 30, 2026, i.e., the date the program ends, but they will have to call FTB first at 1-800-240-0223. Some cardholders might not know that they can transfer the money on their card to a bank account of their choice.

According to the FTB, it is sending reminder letters to Californians who haven’t yet activated their cards. Those who haven’t yet received the debit card, or their card is lost or stolen, need to call the same number to get a replacement card.

Also, those who haven’t received the debit card but are eligible for the money, must ensure that their address is up to date with FTB. Such people need to visit FTB’s Help with the Middle Class Tax Refund page for instructions on how to update the address.

Possible reasons why some didn’t get inflation relief money from California

There are no clear reasons why over half a million people have not yet claimed the inflation relief money from California. A Reddit discussion about the Middle Class Tax Refund program, however, suggests a few reasons.

These reasons include some not receiving their cards, some being unaware of the program and some didn’t clearly understand why they received the card in the mail. Many also mistook the relief cards as a scam card, and thus, threw it away.

Some, in the Reddit discussion, said they forgot to activate the card, while some complained that they encountered issues when activating the card.   

California’s Middle Class Tax Refund is a one-time payment, and it is not taxable both at the state level and federal level.