Strawberry farmworkers stand apart from one another before their lunch in Watsonville on July 29, 2020. (Photo by David Rodriguez/The Salinas Californian, via CalMatters)

In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom more than doubled how much money the state spends on its tax credit for low-income workers.

But since its establishment in 2015, the credit has been unavailable for undocumented workers who pay taxes, until now.

Depending on a household’s size and income, the California Earned Income Tax Credit can range from hundreds to as much as $4,000 for families with young kids.

But until recently, it was only available to workers with a Social Security number, which excluded the state’s over one million undocumented workers.

The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly difficult for those workers.

COVID-19 related job loss spiked in industries with large undocumented workforces, like food service, retail, childcare, farmwork and landscaping.

But unlike many other workers, undocumented Californians can’t get unemployment benefits or food stamps. They also were left out of the federal government’s pandemic response, like the stimulus check. So California created a program to give $500 to undocumented adults, but there was only enough for 150,000 people.

The new law allows anyone with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number to qualify for the credit — making undocumented workers eligible to receive hundreds or thousands of additional dollars each year.

Keep watching CalMatters.org for more in-a-minute videos about other new laws taking effect in 2021. Fewer new laws than usual will kick in, given that the coronavirus pandemic shortened and dominated the Legislature’s 2020 session.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.