California is Taking Back $360m in Money Meant to Help People Deal With Inflation if You Don’t Claim It Before June 1


Next week is going to be a big week for state leaders. They have the chance to win more than $250 million, which they can spend however they choose. Of course, you might be able to spend some of that money however you want.

The sudden rise in prices hurt families’ budgets a lot in 2022. In response, lawmakers and Governor Gavin Newsom set up a scheme to help people in need.

It is called a Middle-Class Tax Refund. To describe the program in a video, Governor Newsom said, “It’s our way of giving you money back to help with everyday costs.”

The Franchise Tax Board of California put money in the bank accounts of millions of people or sent them prepaid debit cards.

Carlos Soliz, who is a master’s student at San Jose State University, was glad to get the money to help. A $700 bank card was given to him.

Soliz said, “I thought this would really help me pay for school.”

And now, after a year and a half, some parts of the relief scheme are ending. But the state’s financial records we looked at showed that hundreds of millions of dollars had not been spent and might not have helped any families at all.

In fact, the Franchise Tax Board is going to make a huge move happen next week. More than $360 million will be moved from the “Better for Families Tax Refund Fund” to the “General Fund” on June 1. Lawmakers can then spend this money however they choose.

So much emergency money from 2022 has still not been claimed in 2024. The FTB says to use this link to get in touch with them and find out if you’re owed any money.

Do you remember Carlos Soliz? And his $700? It turned out that some of his aid money got stuck. It wouldn’t let him move all of it from his card to his bank account.

Soliz said, “If the government says it will help the people, it should.”

He called over and over for months, trying to get help with the card.

According to Soliz, it happened every day: “I’m sorry to hear that, let me transfer you to the right department,” and then she cut her off.

He asked our team to help him get all $700 back. Without our help, the state might have told him his account was “dormant” and sent his money back to lawmakers.

Soliz told them, “That’s not okay.”

A lot of people also told us they didn’t like the MCTR payouts. They also told politicians in the state what they thought.

“We got hundreds of calls from people who could never get through to customer service,” said State Assemblymember Gregg Hart. “That frustration made people give up and throw away the card,” he added. Hart is now the chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which told the state to look into MCTR payments.

A recent report found that the Franchise Tax Board didn’t have enough oversight, which is why its private card contractor didn’t answer 36% of calls to talk to an agent about debit cards.

Money Network, the vendor, told NBC Bay Area that calls were not returned for a number of reasons, such as callers hanging up quickly.

In a release, Money Network said, “The Middle Class Tax Refund Program was the fastest and largest of its kind ever.”

“People who couldn’t get through to the system were the big failures,” Assemblymember Hart said. “So are people who are still getting these benefits but haven’t used them yet.”

Talk to someone before June 1 if you never got paid or aren’t sure.

The money on your bank card is safe for now if you haven’t used it or spent it all.

That money is being held by the state in a different account, and lawmakers won’t be able to get it back until 2026. It’s okay to forget. We’ll remind you in two years. But you should really spend the money right now.

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