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News > Commentary - Permanent Fund Dividend: Benefits of Alaskan Life
Permanent Fund Dividend: Benefits of Alaskan Life

Posted 12/16/2013   Updated 12/16/2013 Email story   Print story

    


Commentary by 1st Lt. Kristin Carl
354th Fighter Wing assistant staff judge advocate


12/16/2013 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), or Alaska Dividend, is a unique yearly dividend for Alaska residents. In 1959, Alaska's largest oil reserve was discovered and it became clear as the pipeline was constructed that Alaska would accrue a great deal of wealth from its oil reserves. So in 1976, Alaska amended its constitution to dedicate approximately 25 percent of its yearly oil revenues to a state investment fund. It is called the Alaska Permanent Fund. The purpose of the fund is to ensure future generations of Alaskans will be able to benefit from Alaska's natural resources, even when those resources have been depleted.

The PFD itself is the dividend on the principal of the Alaska Permanent Fund, which is paid to qualifying Alaska residents. The formula for calculating a particular year's PFD is complicated, taking into account the fund's statutory net income, the net income from the previous four fiscal years, subtracting prior obligations and expenses and dividing by the number of eligible applicants.

However the numbers are calculated, the PFD is an attractive benefit of living in Alaska. In order to be eligible, the following requirements must be met:
1. One must have been a resident of Alaska throughout the entire calendar year of the previous year;
2. At the time of application for the PFD, one must intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely;
3. One must not have claimed residency in another other state or country, or obtained a benefit as a result of a claim of residency in another state or country, within the last 366 days;
4. One must not have been
a. Sentenced as a result of a felony conviction during the previous year,
b. Incarcerated at any time during the previous year as the result of a felony conviction, or
c. Incarcerated at any time during the previous year as the result of a misdemeanor conviction in Alaska if convicted of a prior felony or two or more misdemeanors since Jan. 1, 1997
5. If one was absent from Alaska for more than 180 days in the previous year, one must have been absent on an allowable absence; and
6. One must have been physically present in Alaska for at least 72 consecutive hours at some time during either one of the previous two years.

There are additional guidelines for active duty military members. In order to establish residency for the purposes of applying for the PFD, a member must accomplish all of the following requirements:
1. One must arrive in Alaska on or before Dec. 31 of the year before the qualifying year. For example, if one arrived Dec. 31, 2013, 2015 would be first year one could receive the PFD;
2. One must claim Alaska as the state of legal residence with the military by Dec. 31 of the year before the qualifying year;
3. One must take at least one step, prior to July 1 of the qualifying year, beyond just being physically present in Alaska. For example, one could obtain an Alaska driver's license, register to vote, register a vehicle, sign a lease for non-governmental housing, or purchase a home; and
4. One must maintain Alaska residency at all times during the qualifying year and intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely.

Members should be aware that there are specific requirements for military spouses as well.

Military spouses must accomplish all of the following requirements:
1. One must arrive in Alaska on or before Dec. 31 of the year before the qualifying year. For example, if one arrived Dec. 31, 2013, 2015 would be first year one could receive the PFD;
2. One must take at least one step, prior to July 1 of the qualifying year, beyond just being physically present in Alaska. For example, one could obtain an Alaska driver's license, register to vote, register a vehicle, sign a lease for non-governmental housing, or purchase a home; and
3. One must maintain Alaska residency at all times during the qualifying year and intend to remain an Alaska resident indefinitely.

Dependent children, who are defined as persons under the age of 18, are generally eligible as long as their parent or guardian is eligible.

In order to apply for the PFD, a member and a military spouse must supply (1) a completed electronic or paper PFD adult application, including an Adult Supplemental Schedule, if required and any requested documentation; and (2) a certified birth certificate, original passport, or naturalization papers. A dependent child must supply (1) a completed PFD child application; and (2) a certified birth certificate, original passport, or naturalization papers if filing for the child's first dividend. The application season is Jan. 1 through March 31 each year. Please note that one application must be submitted for each person, rather than for each family or each household.

Just as the benefits of receiving the PFD are very attractive, the punishments for fraudulent application are very harsh. In 2012, 565 PFD applications were implicated with fraud. Of those, 12 cases were referred for prosecution, resulting in four convictions representing a total of $91,409.60 in restitution ordered. Persons found guilty of PFD fraud may be sentenced to jail, may be fined up to $3,000, may have to repay all the PFDs ever received and forfeit all right to future dividends, or must pay back PFDs that were wrongfully claimed on behalf of another. At a minimum, a person found guilty of PFD fraud will be required to pay back the PFDs wrongfully claimed and will forfeit his or her next five dividends. The Alaska Department of Revenue Criminal Investigations Unit investigates each fraud tip received.

Application documents are available on the state's website at http://pfd.alaska.gov/Forms/index.



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