Signing Up for My Free Money

Well, it’s that time of year again: Time to go to the State of Alaska website, log in, confirm my identity, answer a few questions aimed at proving I’m a rightful citizen of the Last Frontier. I’ll let them know I’d like my free money direct deposited in the same account as last year, and hit Ok at the end.

The application period is open now for the Permanent Fund Dividend, a percentage of the profits from the state taxes on oil, paid to each resident, man, woman and child. The payout happens with much fanfare each October (or, “Dividend Days,” as the TV commercials for new cars, big screen TVs, and airline tickets identify that month). Ah, Dividend Days and the PFD payouts are as fleeting as the fall leaves. Most people spend theirs within a few days, though a few put them into college savings funds since after 18 years or so, an Alaskan child can have a nice chunk of change to start college.

This past year, the payout amount was $1300 or so per person. What with oil hitting $100/barrel, you might think the checks would be for a lot more this next year, but it’s a little more complicated than that. The profit is calculated on a schedule and formula that lags several years behind what the price of oil actually was in a certain year. And then you’ve got all those durned new people moving into the state. I think I heard they’re expecting well over 700,000 applications this year. Unbelievable! They should have shut the door to the state right after I arrived five years ago! Hmph! Well, ok, maybe that is something that nearly everyone here says, regardless of if they arrived in 1995 or 1955.

Despite all the immigrants from the south (what you might call the contiguous U.S. and what old-timers here refer to as down in the United States), the next bunch of years could be banner years for the PFD.

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