The Stimulus Gap in California

Over two million low-income Californians are at risk of missing out on over $5 billion in desperately needed stimulus payments.


Recent coronavirus relief bills deliver stimulus payments through the tax code. While these payments easily reach Californians who regularly interact with the tax code, they fail to reach the millions of Californians who are not required to file their taxes and have not done so — either because they fall below the income threshold required for filing, or they do not have any income at all.

Research Project

In collaboration with the Franchise Tax Board and the California Department of Social Services, CPL estimated the number of Californians who risk losing out on these payments because they have not filed taxes in 2018 or 2019. This project linked anonymized income tax data from 2018 and 2019 to CDSS program participant data to identify which Californians are at risk for missing out on this relief due to their filing history.

Research Team

Aparna Ramesh (Principal Investigator), Charles Davis, Elsa Augustine


CPL estimates that at least 2.2 million eligible Californians are caught in the federal Stimulus Gap: they likely did not receive their stimulus payments automatically and are at danger of not receiving them at all. We estimate these Californians are at risk of missing out on $5.7 billion.  

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