Permanent Fund Dividend application opens New Year's Day

thanlon@adn.comDecember 31, 2013 

In Alaska, New Year's Day marks not only another year passed, but also the beginning of registration for the Permanent Fund Dividend, the state's annual payout to residents from its invested oil wealth.

Between Jan. 1 and March 31, Alaskans can apply online or by paper for the 2014 dividend, which officials expect to be larger than last year's check.

While the dividends have steadily decreased from $2,069 in 2008 to $878 in 2012, the payment for 2014 "will likely go into the four-figure territory once again," said Dan DeBartolo, director of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division.

New residents must live in the state for a full calendar year before becoming eligible to apply. Alaskans may fill out an application while absent from Alaska, but to receive the dividend, they cannot be away for more than 180 days out of the year, with some exceptions such as college students and military.

In 2013, a $900 payment was distributed to roughly 640,440 Alaskans, ranging from a 108-year-old to a baby who turned 1 minute old at the midnight, Dec. 31, 2012, deadline.

The dividend is driven by the five-year average of the Permanent Fund's statutory net income. In 2009, the fund was in the red. The market crashed and it lost about $2.48 billion. This number was factored into the dividend for the past five years, driving it down. But it will not affect the 2014 payout.

With higher dividends anticipated, statewide nonprofits are hoping more Alaskans will choose to send a portion of their checks into the community as part of the "Pick. Click. Give." program. More than 26,000 residents gave about $2.4 million last year.

"Pick. Click. Give." allows recipients to donate all or part of their dividend in $25 increments to one or many of the 512 participating organizations.

The top recipient, Bean's Cafe, received $111,814 from 2,027 residents in 2013 to help pay for food and other needed items, according to Lisa Sauder, executive director of the nonprofit that serves meals and provides shelter for the homeless.

"As you can imagine, this is a huge sum of money for us," Sauder said. "It's the largest donation we get and it means so much because it comes from so many individuals."

Residents have until Aug. 31 to alter their donations through the online-based program, the same site where the application is completed: pfd.alaska.gov. Paper applications are available at designated distribution centers.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589.

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