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If you’re feeling the crunch of higher prices in the grocery store or at the gas pump, relief for your wallet could be on the way. Both federal and state-level legislation has been introduced (and in some cases, already passed) to send rebates or stimulus checks directly to Americans.
Unlike previous pandemic relief measures, however, these payments are much more targeted and with considerably lower dollar amounts. That’s not because governments have developed a stingy streak. Rather, it’s more about helping Americans weather inflation without making inflation worse.
Read more: 20 ways to save on gas
“Plans focused on specific sectors or groups, such as gas cards or disbursements based on income thresholds, in theory could help ease the pain caused by prices of specific goods or services…without putting as much pressure on prices more broadly,” says Andrew Patterson, senior international economist at Vanguard.
Here’s how different governments—from federal to state-level—are looking to bring taxpayers relief in a world of soaring prices.
$100 Per Month Federal Energy Rebate Payment
On March 17, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), John Larson (D-CT) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL) introduced the Gas Rebate Act of 2022. While in its early stages, the Act would send energy rebate payments of $100 per month to eligible taxpayers and offer an additional $100 per dependent.
Currently, payment eligibility would be structured similarly to previous stimulus payments. Married filers filing jointly with incomes up to $150,000 and single filers earning up to $75,000 would receive the full payment, with phase-out levels for higher incomes.
The legislation needs to make its way through Congress before payments can begin.
Approved State Stimulus and Rebate Check Programs
Five states have already approved legislation to get tax rebates flowing to their residents. Here’s how those payments are coming along:
In February of this year, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a bill that allocates $350 million for tax rebates to Idahoans. There are two criteria for eligibility:
The payments are queued to begin at the end of March and will total either $75 or 12 percent of your 2020 Idaho state taxes, whichever is greater. The tax commission will first issue rebates to taxpayers who received refunds via direct deposit, then will send paper rebate checks. State residents can also check the status of their rebate online.
Thanks to a historic state budget surplus, Georgia residents who have filed both their 2021 and 2022 tax returns will be eligible to receive rebate payments based on their tax filing status:
- Single filers: $250
- Head of household: $375
- Married filing jointly: $500
Residents who filed their taxes before Kemp signed the legislation will receive their rebates via payments to be sent out at a later date. Those who have yet to file and do so by the April 18th deadline could see their rebate payments added to their tax refunds. Of course, that’s dependent on how quickly the state department of revenue can incorporate the new payments.
Like Georgia, Indiana found itself with a healthy budget surplus at the end of 2021. In Dec. 2021, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that Indiana taxpayers would get a $125 one-time tax refund after they file their 2021 taxes.
While residency and eligibility information are unclear, the state’s department of revenue says that taxpayers shouldn’t expect to see this bonus refund reflected when they file their taxes (so don’t panic). Rather, the state will send out further information on when to expect these bonus payments in 2022.
In fall of 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy and the New Jersey state legislature approved budget measures that would send one-time rebate checks of up to $500 to nearly 1 million families.
Now, Murphy proposes earmarking an additional $53 million to send $500 payments to those who file taxes using a taxpayer identification number instead of a Social Security number. These newly eligible people would include nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses and dependents, all of whom are ineligible to receive a Social Security number.
In early March, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law relief measures that would give New Mexico taxpayers a one-time tax rebate of $250 for single filers and $500 for married couples filing jointly. To be eligible, taxpayers must meet certain criteria; single filers’ income must be less than $75,000 and married filing jointly less than $150,000.
Pending State Gas Rebate and Stimulus Programs
While not yet approved by their state legislatures and signed into law, nine states have introduced legislation for gas rebates, direct stimulus check payments, grocery tax cuts and income tax rebates for their residents.
With gas prices soaring on the west coast, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed up to $9 billion in funds to send gas rebates to Californians. While the measure still has to make it through the state legislature, California residents could see payments as soon as early summer should the measure pass.
Eligibility for California payments would be based on vehicle registration instead of tax filings and income thresholds. This feature was intentional so that low-income residents would be eligible for the gas rebate. Households would be eligible for rebates for up to two cars ($400 per car). If approved, residents will receive a debit card in the amount of their gas rebate.
In January, Gov. David Ige proposed sending a tax rebate of $100 to every Hawaii taxpayer, with an additional $100 payment per dependent. Eligibility and payment timing details aren’t yet clear as this measure is still making its way through the Hawaii state legislature.
With one of the highest grocery taxes in the nation, the Kansas state legislature is considering legislation that would reduce its 6.5% tax on groceries. There’s no clear date on when this legislation could be decided or when a reduced tax would go into effect.
This week, the Kentucky Senate approved a $1 billion rebate for the state’s taxpayers thanks to the state’s budget surplus. While the legislation is still moving through the state legislature in conjunction with a broader income tax package, eligible Kentuckians will receive a one-time payment of up to $500 and up to $1,000 per household if approved.
Gov. Janet Mills wants to use the state’s budget surplus to send Maine taxpayers one-time rebate checks of $850 to help ease inflation woes. The legislation hasn’t yet been approved by the state legislature, but some reports estimate June as a target date for checks to be mailed. Eligibility criteria for Maine residents hadn’t been released at the time of this story’s publishing.
Gov. Tim Walz has teed-up using the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus to fund a generous relief package, proposing that Minnesotans receive tax rebate checks of $500 per person. It hasn’t been approved by the state legislature quite yet and might face an uphill battle in the state’s split legislature. Republicans want to use the budget surplus for permanent tax cuts for everyone, while Democrats want funds to most benefit lower-income residents.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s newly proposed budget offers New York residents some relief through a proposed property tax rebate. Outside of New York City, property owners would receive an average rebate of $970, while New York City owners would get rebates averaging $425. The final deal on the state’s budget has a deadline of March 31. After that point, details on eligibility and payments will likely be more clear.
The highly-contested state’s gubernatorial race means there are multiple proposals floating around Pennsylvania to help ease inflation by cutting the state’s 57.6 cents per gallon gas tax. While that political race plays out, current governor Tom Wolf has asked Congress along with four other Democratic governors, to repeal the national 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax through the end of 2022.
Pennsylvania also has legislation pending that would provide up to $500 million in direct assistance to help families pay for expenses like childcare and household expenses.
With a $2.6 billion budget surplus, Gov. Glenn Youngkin advocates putting some of that money back into Virginians’ pockets. There are two bills in the state legislature aimed at reducing or eliminating the state’s 2.5 percent grocery tax. Additional legislation looks to suspend the state’s 26.2 cents per gallon gas tax for a period of one year.
What’s Next for Gas Stimulus Checks?
Even with all these measures making their way through various legislatures, Americans remain crunched between what they need and what they can afford.
And while rebates and gas stimulus checks can help buffer the blow of rising prices, there are those who remain leery of sending out additional payments, especially with past pandemic relief programs believed to have contributed to our current rate of inflation.
Read more: Why is inflation so high?
Dr. Jaime Peters, assistant dean and assistant professor of finance at Maryville University explains that for some lawmakers, “inflation-related stimulus payments will simply feed the beast,” putting even more money into the market where the supply of goods can’t meet demand.
This creates a tough conundrum for families who are coming up short on the supply of funds to get the goods they need each day.