2021 marked the end of the federal stimulus check even as inflation began on a long upward march throughout 2022. The accompanying rise in prices across all products and services has left Americans desperate for some form of state support which was not forthcoming from the federal government.
But states moved in with alacrity and over 20 states have already sent inflation relief payments to residents or have lined up various forms of relief. The relief is in the form of direct stimulus checks, paper stimulus checks, debit cards, tax rebates, sales tax waivers on particular items, especially gasoline and diesel for a fixed period, gas cards, and transit cards.
The payments have been linked to the adjusted gross income of residents as revealed in their 2020 or 2021 income tax returns. Even though the state payments cannot match the federal payments in their extent and scope, it has come at the right time as people were desperate for some form of relief to match up the monthly expenses.
Millions of Americans continue to live paycheck-to-paycheck and this situation has been aggravated even since the pandemic shutdown began in the first quarter of 2020, immediately after the pandemic entered America and spread out fast, way faster than in other countries due to the initial inertia shown by then president Donald Trump in hastening the declaration of the pandemic.
Once the federal payments were set in motion, the stimulus checks went out thick and fast and the IRS could cut down on their processing time with each successive round of stimulus check payments.
By the third stimulus check, the IRS was able to send out millions of stimulus checks in their millions in less than a week. Speed was imperative in sending out the stimulus check as people were desperate for some form of government aid as it came about to remain the only source of income for millions as unemployment shot past the 10% mark even as prices kept rising relentlessly throughout the year.
From gasoline to groceries, and even in the service and utility sector, prices kept up their upward trend and there appears to be no easing as the inflation rate went on a record-breaking spree, staying between 8% and 9% increase year-on-year for all of 2022 and continues to this day.
The price of gasoline has been the worst hit and while the war in Europe has taken the blame, it is the oil companies who are more to blame as they have taken advantage of the impending crisis and have jacked up prices while raking in millions in profit.
While Maine and New Mexico were among the states who moved in earlier with inflation relief payments, it is California that has ultimately come up with the biggest round of payments starting October, though the bill was passed by Governor Gavin Newsom way back in June 2022.
California Has Ensured The Highest Coverage For The Inflation Stimulus Check, Covering Over 23 Million Residents
California had earlier mulled sending out gas cards worth $400 for each vehicle registered in California with each household eligible for two cards. Families without vehicles were in line for a transit card of an undetermined amount.
But Democratic state legislators prevailed upon Gov. Newsom to change his stance and instead go for the third round of California stimulus checks to cover low and middle-income families.
The Middle-Class Tax Rebate declared by Gov. Newsom will cover 23 million of the state’s 40 million residents. The payments range from $200 to $1,050 depending on the 2020 state Adjusted Gross Income, the filing status (individual or joint filer), and the inclusion of any dependents.
The payments have been divided into three tiers with the highest stimulus check of $1,050 going out to joint filers with a joint AGI of below $150,000 for 2020. Individual filers in this category will get a $350 stimulus check with a 2020 state AGI of $75,000 or less. For joint filers, the amount comes to $700 with $350 for each filer. The inclusion of a dependent will bring in an equal amount of $350, thus bringing in $1,050 for a family of three or more.
The second tier is for an individual AGI of between $75,001 and $125,000 while for joint filers it is between $150,001 and $250,000. The individual stimulus check amounts are $250 in this tier along with another $250 for including at least a dependent. The total thus comes to a maximum of $750 in this tier.
The highest income group that is entitled to a stimulus check is individual filers with a 2020 state AGI between $150,001 and 250,000 and for joint filers, it is between $250,001 and 500,000.
Filers with an AGI above that amount will not be in line for any inflation relief from the state of California.
The administration started sending out the payments on October 7, 2022. The first round of payments were direct transfers to residents who received the Golden State stimulus checks I and II. These were the first round of stimulus checks the Newsom administration gave as added relief against the pandemic in 2021.
California was the first state to send out stimulus checks to residents through these two rounds of payments. The third round has been given as a relief against inflation as California continues to charge the highest gasoline prices, with prices touching the $8 a gallon mark both in September and October 2022.
California’s gasoline prices are the highest in the US, as high taxes, cleaner fuel, and production issues have jacked up prices that have consistently stayed high for over a year. The prices have eased in November and presently stand at around $5.5 a gallon, though it is still way higher than the price in other states.
While gas prices in much of the country have dropped substantially this fall, prices in some remote areas of California continue to be higher because of transportation costs, topping $8 even in November.
The prices have pushed some residents to the edge and have raised suspicion that oil companies are indulging in price gouging.