Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

California Policy Lab

Policy Briefs bannerUC Berkeley

The Stimulus Gap: 2.2 Million Californians Could Miss $5.7 Billion in Federal Stimulus Payments


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed multiple bills to provide stimulus payments to low- and middle-income Americans. The IRS used tax data to determine who should receive the three recent stimulus payments, which helped get payments to the majority of eligible people quickly and automatically. However, we estimate 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. If they have not received these payments already by filing a return or using the currently dormant IRS tool for non-filers, these Californians will need to take an extra step to claim their stimulus payments by filing a tax return. This policy brief quantifies the Stimulus Gap in California and provides recommendations on how the IRS can help eliminate the gap nationwide, including by working with state human service agencies to better distribute stimulus payments. The interactive map and tables below provide additional context about the demographics of Californians who are caught in the federal Stimulus Gap and the amount of money that could go unclaimed.

This work has been supported, in part, by the University of California Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives grants MRP-19-600774 and M21PR3278.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item