Alaskans found out they’ll be getting $900 as their share of the state’s oil wealth this year beginning 3 October. The amount was announced today at an Anchorage press conference with acting Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner, Angela Rodell, who promised more next year. The amount of the Alaska Permanent Fund is bigger than eligible Alaska residents received last year but pales in comparison to pre-recession dividends. Checks in 2008 reached over $2,000. The smallest reached a meager $331 and change, in 1984.
The amount of each person’s check is calculated based on a five-year rolling average of worldwide markets, including recession years that hit hardest outside of our 49th state. Last year’s dividend payout was slightly below this year’s, at $878.
Of the around 593,000 residents to receive the money, most will take it through direct deposit and about 86,000 will have checks mailed. Residents in some cases donate part of their funds to charities through a program called Pick. Click. Give. It was a record year for the program, which originated in 2009. Rodell reported that about $2.5 million was pledged this year to 472 nonprofits. Most of the money goes toward toys, travel, college savings or paying down debts.
Apparently a big purchase often made around dividend time is a snowmobile. Sources say that Polaris and Arctic Cat stores get calls around this time asking about dividend deals.
Everyone has their own opinion about where the funds should be allocated. Travel agents speaking to KTVA in Alaska say the $900 check covers a trip to Iceland. Money managers advise putting it into savings. A pastor of a Pentecostal church, Reverend Lorin Bradbury, plans to save his check and advises others do the same, for a rainy day in essence.
Recipients must have resided in Alaska for at least one calendar year as of a ruling in 1993. There is no Alaska state income tax however residents pay federal taxes on the bounty.
The Permanent Fund originated in 1976 after the discovery of North Slope oil and the passing of a state constitutional amendment. Residents began receiving Fund dividends in 1982; that year’s amount was $1,000.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons.]