Coronavirus Stimulus Checks
Golden State stimulus: can I apply for California check yet?
Earlier this month Governor Gavin Newsom of California proposed a bonus check at state level for those most in need of economic help due to coronavirus.
On 6 January, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a pay out of $600 in stimulus checks to offer financial support to millions of residents with the lowest income along with an extension on eviction freezes, to ease the strain brought on by covid-19. The additional bonus would be on top of the $600 approved by Congress and paid by the federal government in December.
The proposal came as part of his $227 billion spending plan, which included a $15 billion economic relief package as the state faced the height of its winter surge of covid-19 cases and hospitalisations. Also included in the budget is a proposal to extend the state’s eviction moratorium and expedite distribution of California’s $2.6 billion share of federal rental assistance to assist low-income tenants.
"In these darkest moments of the covid-19 pandemic, this budget will help Californians with urgent action to address our immediate challenges and build towards our recovery," the Governor said.
Newsom’s team believe that the new stimulus could affect up to four million families, and has suggested that the order could mean qualifying Californians see checks within the next few weeks, according to a video posted by the governor on social network TikTok.
"Low-income families have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. That's why we announced recently a new stimulus. We refer to it as the Golden State Stimulus," Newsom said.
Can Californians apply for Golden State stimulus checks?
Until the “Immediate Action Package” within the state budget - which is projected to be the most expensive budget in state history - is approved by lawmakers sadly no, you cannot apply for a Golden State stimulus check.
California lawmakers in fact have until 15 June 2021 to review his proposal and vote on it, though the Governor is urging swift approval.
If approved, the next question is whether - in line with most federal stimulus check payments to date – the payments will be automatically released and sent to qualifying recipients or not.
According to the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom website, “the payments would be sent out to tax year 2019 CalEITC [California Earned Income Tax Credit] recipients in February and March 2021.”
“ITIN [Individual Taxpayer Identification Number ] taxpayers, who are newly eligible for the CalEITC, would receive the additional tax refund after they file their 2020 tax return, typically in February through April of 2021.”
Who qualifies for the Golden State stimulus?
The state-specific stimulus top-up would go to people who qualify for a California Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as those who are eligible to receive the state credit in 2021 according to a statement from Newsom's office on 6 January.
This means that Californians with annual incomes of $30,000 or less could qualify and that the state's stimulus payments could make it into the hands of those who did not receive a federal stimulus and would help "undocumented households that file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), including parents with U.S. citizen children," the statement clarified.
“Through the Golden State Stimulus, Californians who have been impacted by this pandemic will get help to provide for their families and keep a roof over their heads,” Newsom said in a statement.
“This plan will provide relief for Californians in need by distributing $600 rapid cash support - for some, at least $1,200 when coupled with federal relief – and extend the eviction moratorium,” he said.
Coronavirus in California: on going lockdown
California has emerged as one of the hardest hit states in the country this winter. It is the most populous US state with about 40 million residents and has registered over 3.1 million coronavirus cases despite some of the country’s toughest restrictions on socialising and businesses.
The soaring covid-19 caseload has pushed hospitals to their limits, particularly in Southern California. Around 25,224 new cases were confirmed on Friday alone in the Golden State, along with 625 additional deaths, raising the number of lives lost to date state wide to 26,326.
A state wide stay-at-home order was issued on 3 December 2020 and brought into effect on 9 December to correlate with ICU bed capacity in each region, and was further extended in January.