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Latest round of Middle Class Tax Refunds on their way to Californians

If you haven’t received your Middle Class Tax Refund yet, then you may be in store for an early Christmas present. The latest batch of payments were sent out this week in the form of debit cards, to eligible recipients with last names starting in A through K.

Millions of Californians have been given the state-wide benefit, which is aimed at helping to off-set the high price of gas and the rising cost of living. It’s a one-time payment for people who earn under $500,000 per year, with amounts varying from $200 to more than $1,000 depending on individual circumstances.

According to the State of California’s Franchise Tax Board, the program has so far benefitted over 22 million people. The one-time payments are issued in the form of direct deposits or debit cards, and first started to be distributed back in October.

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Anna Ortiz from San Diego is one of almost 5.5 million California residents to receive their payment via debit card. She’s going to use the money to pay off medical bills, but Ortiz told KPBS News she thinks the cash could be put to better use. 

Right now a used car costs as much as a new one,” she said. “Why don’t we have programs to help low income people afford cars? There’s always more that we can do. Everything’s really difficult these days.”

San Diegan Bernard Fernandez is still waiting to receive his money. Fernandez has a two-week old baby daughter and could use the extra cash to buy diapers. However, Fernandez isn't convinced by the program.

“I think it’s a poor idea, frankly,'' he said. “Let’s cut the gas tax in California temporarily, because if you think of the cost it takes to set up the rebates, mail the checks, get the stamps, buy the envelopes, what’s the point? I think it’s much easier to do a general tax cut across the board for the cost of fuel."

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Debit cards can take up to two weeks to arrive by mail, and direct deposits can take around 3-5 business days to complete. Around 95% of all payments are expected to be handed out by the end of the year.