Roughly half a million people in Massachusetts will receive a check for $500 over the next week as the Baker administration intends to drop the first round of bonus payments in the mail for low-income taxpayers.
The bonus-pay program was included in the $4 billion spending bill passed by the Legislature last year allocating state surplus and American Rescue Plan Act funds. The legislation included a $460 million premium pay program intended to benefit low-income residents who worked throughout the pandemic.
The Baker administration designed the program to benefit anyone who earned at least $12,750 in 2020, which is the equivalent of 20 hours a week for 50 weeks at minimum wage, and whose income was less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
Anyone who received unemployment benefits in 2020 is ineligible for the program, as are state executive branch employees who are eligible for a bonus from a different pot of money.
The first round of checks will exhaust about $250 million from the bonus-pay pool, with a second round of checks being planned for after tax-filing season based on 2021 returns.