2023 California (CA) Refund Status and Middle Class Tax Refund – Latest Updates and News on Payments

With the latest tax season upon us it is worth reviewing some of the key tax changes for Californian residents and tax filers. As the most populous state in the union with high average incomes it is no surprise that Californian residents pay more taxes than those of any other state. So taxes are an important topic for many.

California (CA) State Taxes

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) manages the administration and collection of taxes and related programs for individuals and corporations in the state. Generally, you have to file a California state tax return if you’re an income earning resident or part-year resident or a non-resident who earned income from a source in California.

You can use the same tax software to file federal and state tax returns. There is also an option to use the states CalFile to file your return directly with the FTB and for free if your earnings are below certain (AGI) income thresholds.

The focus in this article is around state specific taxes and changes for the latest tax season. For federal tax changes that will impact the latest tax season, see this article.

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Middle Class Tax Refund (MCTR) – Is It tax exempt For Federal Refund?

The CA Middle Class Tax Refund (MCTR) was passed in 2022 and has will benefit over 30 million Californian taxpayers and their dependents. Over 16 million payments have been sent to qualifying taxpayers via direct deposit (45%) or debit card (55%).

Eligible recipients automatically received a payment via direct deposit or debit card, based on their 2020 CA tax filing. Payments are expected to be issued between October 2022 and January 2023.

If you filed your 2020 CA tax return electronically and received your CA tax refund by direct deposit and had no additional tax related liabilities, you will likely receive your MCTR payment by direct deposit as well. Otherwise expect a debit card.

From a tax treatment perspective, the CA FTB has said the payments aren’t taxable for state-income-tax purposes but may be for federal purposes subject to IRS determination.

Issues with Payment or Debit Cards – Which Number to Call?

As with any large scale program, certain recipients may face issues with getting their money. This time it seems issues are with Debit cards in particular and around missing payments and how to track their status.

The best way to check your MCTR status ais via your free CA FTB account, which is basically our online tax account with the state.

If you have an CA FTB account you can also have an online chat around your specific situation and status, which may be as faster way to get help vs waiting for a live agent.

For assistance with debit card questions or assistance with activation you can call the CA MCTR customer assistance line at 800-240-0223.

However many folks have said calling the debit card distributor (Money Network) directly around card activation issues has been more helpful. The number for them is 800-542-9332.

Checking the Status of Your Refund and Expected Refund Processing Time

As was the case with federal tax return processing, residents have also faced long delays in getting their state refunds. Pandemic related staffing shortages and the introduction of many federal and state tax breaks placed extra burdens on local agencies which in turn delayed validation and processing of many state tax returns.

It typically takes up to three weeks to process refunds for e-filed California returns, and up to four weeks for mailed returns. Some returns may take additional time to review, if manual verification is required, impacting refund processing.

However you can easily check the status of your state tax refund via the state’s Where is My Refund tool, much like the federal/IRS Where is my Refund (WMR) tool.

Key Tax Considerations in CA For Tax Filings

Multiple rounds of Golden Stimulus checks were paid to millions of qualifying families and individuals to support them during the COLVID induced economic slowdown and from the severe unemployment experienced by many during the peak of the pandemic.

Missing GS I or II payments? If you didn’t get the golden stimulus checks (you must have filed your 2020 taxes) and you felt your income levels were below the required qualification levels, you can claim it via your state tax filing or see the FTB website for retroactive payment options.

Fraud is on the rise. As has been the case over the last few years, tax fraud is on the rise and all state revenue and tax agencies are reminding taxpayers to take steps to protect themselves from scam artists seeking to steal refunds and identities.

Wildfire Disaster Deductions. Given the horrible wildfires this year, Taxpayers affected by governor-declared California wildfires may claim a disaster loss as a state tax deduction (see details) in the tax year when the disaster occurred. They also may file an amended or original return from the year before the disaster occurred.

Note – Proposed 2022 Inflation Relief Payments will start being paid in late 2022. See more in this article.

California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC)

Californians with income up to $30,000 may qualify for CalEITC. Those who are eligible for CalEITC and have a child age five or younger also may receive up to $1,000 from the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC). In addition, people earning less than $57,414 also may qualify for the federal EITC.

Between CalEITC, YCTC, and the federal EITC, a family can receive up to $10,888. For more information about these credits, visit www.ftb.ca.gov/caleitc.

Qualifying Health Care Coverage Penalties

Californians who did not have qualifying health insurance throughout the year are subject to a penalty of $800 or more when they file their state tax returns. The penalty for a dependent child is half that of an adult; a family of four could face a penalty of $2,400 or more. If you had health coverage in 2021, check the “Full-year health care coverage,” box 92, on your state tax return to avoid penalties.

California (CA) Tax Brackets by Filing Status

The California state tax income rates range from 1% to 12.3% depending on taxable income and filing status. State taxes are due in line with federal tax filing deadlines, unless a state holiday or exception is noted. If you can’t pay your California state tax bill on time, you can request a one-time, 30-day delay.

Tax Brackets and Rates for Single Filers

CA Tax rateTaxable income bracketTax owed
1%$0 to $9,325.1% of taxable income.
2%$9,326 to $22,107.$93.25 plus 2% of the amount over $9,325.
4%$22,108 to $34,892.$348.89 plus 4% of the amount over $22,107.
6%$34,893 to $48,435.$860.29 plus 6% of the amount over $34,892.
8%$48,436 to $61,214.$1,672.87 plus 8% of the amount over $48,435.
9.3%$61,215 to $312,686.$2,695.19 plus 9.3% of the amount over $61,214.
10.3%$312,687 to $375,221.$26,082.09 plus 10.3% of the amount over $312,686.
11.3%$375,222 to $625,369.$32,523.20 plus 11.3% of the amount over $375,221.
12.3%$625,370 or more.$60,789.92 plus 12.3% of the amount over $625,369.

Tax Brackets and Rates for Married Filers

Tax rateTaxable income bracketTax owed
1%$0 to $18,650.1% of taxable income.
2%$18,651 to $44,214.$186.50 plus 2% of the amount over $18,650.
4%$44,215 to $69,784.$697.78 plus 4% of the amount over $44,214.
6%$69,785 to $96,870.$1,720.58 plus 6% of the amount over $69,784.
8%$96,871 to $122,428.$3,345.74 plus 8% of the amount over $96,870.
9.3%$122,429 to $625,372.$5,390.38 plus 9.3% of the amount over $122,428.
10.3%$625,373 to $750,442.$52,164.17 plus 10.3% of the amount over $625,372.
11.3%$750,443 to $1,250,738.$65,046.38 plus 11.3% of the amount over $750,442.
12.3%$1,250,739 or more.$121,579.83 plus 12.3% of the amount over $1,250,738.

You can see the IRS federal tax brackets here

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2 thoughts on “2023 California (CA) Refund Status and Middle Class Tax Refund – Latest Updates and News on Payments”

  1. I mistakenly put the wrong county on my tax return. How do I fix that? I’m assuming that is the hold up on receiving my refund?


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