Emu Devine
Head Copy Editor

The state of California has passed its own stimulus package the Golden State Stimulus, to coincide with the upcoming federal stimulus package. The new law provides millions of dollars in grants to small businesses, bolsters financial aid to California community college students, and, yes, will include its own individual stimulus checks.

The bill, totalling around $7.6 billion, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, but its features are still being phased in and rolled out. The major aspects of the law include $2.1 billion set aside for direct grants for small businesses ranging from $5,000 – $25,000, the waiving some of the licensing fees for businesses, which both provide financial support and lower the financial burden for starting a business for the next two years, and $100 million in new financial aid for low-income community college students.

Another benefit, one specifically important to the Whittier College student body, is the expansion of the CalFresh program, the state’s food stamps, and promoting college student eligibility for it. For reference, college students who qualified for work-study were already eligible for food assistance through CalFresh before the pandemic, and student criteria for eligibility has now been lowered even more. The biggest part, though, is obviously the stimulus checks. These checks are specifically targeted at extremely low-income California residents, including undocumented immigrants, a demographic barred from federal stimulus relief.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Hamilton via Unsplash.

According to the Californian government’s official website on the checks, people making under $30,000 a year who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (meaning, among other things, you cannot be married) and who are not claimed as dependents are eligible for a $600 check, which will take a 45-day minimum to be sent after filing tax returns. The law does require eligible people to file tax returns, even though extremely impoverished people, making well under $10,000 a year, typically are not required to file them. However, criteria for financial eligibility is now based on more realistic 2020 tax returns, instead of outdated ones from 2019, meaning more people can demonstrate their lost income during the pandemic and make sure they are not claimed as a dependent on another tax return. The deadline for filing is also extended beyond traditional tax season, meaning you can file and receive your check as late as Oct. 15 of this year. In addition, people who file taxes with an Individual Tax Identification Number, a common method for undocumented immigrants, and qualify for CalEITC will receive $1,200, and those who do not qualify for that tax credit will still receive $600.

California’s Golden State Stimulus comes as the new federal stimulus is seemingly ready to go out. Following Senate approval, the House of Representatives passed the bill the night of March 10, and President Biden signed it into law this afternoon, March 11. Completely separate from the Golden State Stimulus program, this bill will extend unemployment insurance until September, as well as make the first $10,200 claimed through unemployment tax-free, increase child tax credits to $3,600 for children under six and $3,000 for older children, provide $25 billion in rent relief and $10 billion in mortgage relief, and, of course, send out $1,400 checks to people making under $75,000, with smaller amounts slowly phasing out after that.

This is the first federal stimulus that could potentially use 2020 tax returns, making it more accurate in who is targeted, and also doesn’t require tax returns. In previous stimulus rounds, people not making enough to be required to file returns could still claim their check through a separate application process online with the IRS. Undocumented immigrants are still ineligible, unfortunately, but dependents are eligible now, and can claim past stimulus they could not get as a credit on their taxes.

All in all, California residents are still eligible to receive both checks, which, combined, would total to an actual $2,000 check, sure to provide some relief to Americans in need.


Featured Image: Courtesy of Sterling Davis/ Unsplash

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