Here are the most frequently asked Middle Class Tax Refund questions

ByRenee Koury and Simone Chavoor KGO logo
Friday, February 3, 2023
Californians reluctant to cash in their inflation-relief debit cards
The state of California turned over data for millions of Californians so companies in New York and Wisconsin could issue the cards and mail them out.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Millions of Californians are due to receive the "Middle Class Tax Refund" as the state's way of easing the pain of inflation. Some received their refunds in the form of a direct deposit, while others got it in the form of a mailed pre-loaded debit card. And for many, questions about this refund abound.

Here are 7 On Your Side's most ongoing coverage of the MCTR. Check back for the latest updates.

You'll find answers to the most commonly asked questions below. If you have one we didn't answer, please scroll to the bottom to find details on how to contact 7 On Your Side.

Do I qualify for the Middle Class Tax Refund?

You will need to have filed your 2020 tax return by October 15, 2021. You also cannot have been declared as a dependent. You must have been a California resident for at least 6 months in 2020 and be a California resident on the date the MCTR payment was issued. Eligibility and amount received is dependent on income. (See next question.)

How much will I get?

The California Franchise Tax Board has a calculator here to estimate your payment.

How will I receive the money?

You will receive your payment by direct deposit if you filed your 2020 state tax return electronically and received a refund by direct deposit. Otherwise you will receive a pre-loaded debit card in the mail.

Unlike the stimulus payments during the pandemic, there is no way to track your payments online to see if it has been sent.

What does the debit card / mailing envelope look like?

Many are finding this confusing because the envelope has a return address in Omaha, Nebraska. Check out 7 On Your Side's video here to get a look at the envelope and card, or view the image on the FTB website.

Who do I call for customer service? What can I expect when I call?

Money Network's customer service line for the MCTR is 1-800-240-0223. Here are the phone menu options you will get when you call (after selecting your language of choice).

  • Press 1 to activate your card and card customer service - you will need to have your card number for this option
  • Press 2 if you have not yet received a card (or direct deposit) - you will need to enter the last 6 digits of your Social Security number
  • Press 3 if your card was lost or stolen - you will need to enter the last 6 digits of your Social Security number
  • Press 4 if you do not want to accept the terms of the card and instead want a paper check mailed to you. Your Money Network account will be closed, and the check will be issued by the Franchise Tax Board and may take around 12 weeks to receive. You will need your card number for this option.
  • Press 5 for general information. You can then select from the following options:
    1. Press 1 for information on whether you qualify for a payment
    2. Press 2 for an estimated date of arrival of your payment
    3. Press 3 to get an estimate of how much you will receive
    4. Press 4 for information on the form your refund might take (direct deposit or debit card)
    5. Press 5 for information on whether your payment is subject to levy or garnishment
    6. Press 6 for information on updating your address with the Franchise Tax Board or to set up a MyFTB account
    7. Press 7 for payment plans with the FTB, or for more information if you received a notice from the FTB

How do I activate my card?

By calling 1-800-240-0223. Do not use other numbers or respond to text messages or emails offering to help with your payment -- it might be a scam! You will have to punch in the last 6 digits of your Social Security number to activate the card.

What else do I need to know about my card?

The card is issued by the New York Community Bank, and serviced by the Money Network. Using your card may incur fees. It costs $1.25 each time it is used on a non-Money Network ATM or to get cash over the counter at a bank. There are no fees if you use a Money Network ATM or to use the card for shopping at a store. However, you may be charged additional ATM fees by the ATM operators including those in the free Money Network system.

How can I transfer my funds to my bank account without incurring any fees?

You must call to activate your card (1-800-240-0223). Then, you will need to register a phone number or email address on your card. This can be done online at Once done, you can supply your bank's routing number and your account number for the money to be transferred to your bank account with no fee.

I'm having a problem with my card, where can I get help? What if my card is lost or stolen?

If your card is lost or stolen you should call Money Network at 1-800-240-0223 and choose Option 3. Money Network provides additional information on their help page here. If you still cannot get help, please email us back with the details of your issue and we'll look into it!

What if I accidentally threw away my card before activating it?

If you dumped your debit card, you should be able to get a replacement by calling Money Network (1-800-240-0223) and choose Option 2. You will need to provide the last 6 digits of your Social Security number.

What if I don't want to give the 6 digits of my Social Security number to activate the card?

Call the Money Network and choose option 4 to say you do not agree to the terms and would like a paper check. It will take several weeks for the check to arrive.

Why didn't the state cut checks instead of sending these cards?

The Franchise Tax Board says debit cards are by far the fastest way to send money to millions of residents. Checks would take six months longer. It is also intended to help those without bank accounts avoid check-cashing fees.

Do I need to pay taxes on this money?

Strictly speaking, all income should be reported to the IRS. However, the IRS is only sending 1099 forms to those who received more than $600 from the MCTR. There is still uncertainty whether the IRS will follow through with taxing these payments, or if there will be exceptions. For California state income tax, the Franchise Tax Board says this on their website: "The MCTR payment is not taxable for California state income tax purposes. You do not need to claim the payment as income on your California income tax return."

What if I got a 1099 for the MCTR -- but never received the payment?

Call the Franchise Tax Board at 800-852-5711 and select Option 1 to reach MCTR customer service. You may need to provide your Social Security number.

Watch out for scammers!

And, as always, keep alert for scams! Scammers are already trying to steal people's payments. Do not reply to unsolicited texts, emails, or other requests for personal information. You will never have to pay money in order to receive your refund (with the exception of the fees imposed for withdrawing or transferring your funds, as described above.). Double check the sender of any correspondence to see if it matches the official entities mentioned above. Be on the lookout for copycat websites! Some websites use close spellings that look similar to the legitimate ones.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.



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