(NewsNation) — With higher than expected tax revenues collected during the pandemic, state after state is now deciding what to do with millions in surplus funds.
More than a dozen states are now giving some of that money back to the taxpayers, including California.
With Americans feeling the strain on their wallets with skyrocketing inflation, the state of California plans to send relief payments to millions of Golden State residents.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a $17 billion package including more than $9 billion for inflation relief as part of California’s operating budget. The checks people receive will range from $200 to $1,050, depending on household income, marital status and dependents.
About 23 million taxpayers would qualify, with those making under $75,000 a year benefitting the most.
The tax-free payment is expected sometime in late October, either through direct deposit or by debit card.
Only couples who make less than $500,000 per year and single people who make less than $250,000 per year are eligible to get this money.
A preliminary summary of the budget shows single tax filers will receive:
- $350 if they earn less than $75,000 per year
- $250 if they earn between $75,001 and $125,000 per year
- $200 if they earn between $125,001 and $250,000 per year
Married couples filing jointly are eligible for:
- $700 if they earn less than $150,000 per year
- $500 if they earn between $150,001 and $250,000 per year
- $400 if they earn between $250,001 and $500,000 per year
Both single and joint filers with one dependent can get an additional amount of $350, $250 or $200, based on their tier, CNBC said.
This proposal sends cash directly to taxpayers instead of suspending the state’s fuel tax, which is set to go up by another 3 cents on Friday.
NewsNation business contributor Lydia Moynihan said in the long run, spending more money to fix issues stemming from inflation is the problem not the solution.
“The whole concept of inflation is you have too many dollars chasing too few goods,” she said.
In the short term, though, people do still have to fill up their gas tank and get groceries, two things made harder to do with rising prices.
“So this isn’t ‘I’m going to address the underlying issue,’ but I certainly understand why an average working-class person would be glad to get that help,” Moynihan said.
Many Californians welcome the prospect of inflation relief money. Republicans criticized the move, however, saying drivers could have been saving all along if the state had quickly suspended its tax on fuel.
“Enough waiting, talking and investigating. People need relief now,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher said.
But Democratic Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo said California families would rather “see their savings in their pocket.”
“The savings and the gas rebate that we are currently proposing is much, much better,” she said.
About 15 other states are either considering or already sending out inflation relief payments. In some state plans money is going to all who filed taxes, without the tiers proposed in the California plan.
“Some of the state rebates we’ve seen are not targeted in this way to middle and lower-income families,” said Dylan Grundman O’Neil, an analyst at the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. “Even the richest families are getting a slice of the pie which they really don’t need and could be better directed to more efficient means.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.