The Alaska Permanent Fund dividend for 2013 is $900. That means that most Alaskan residents will soon be $900 richer.
The yearly checks are part of the state’s $47 billion oil wealth trust fund, which many credit with keeping low-income families out of poverty.
About 640,000 Alaskans can expect checks next month, reports Reuters. Recipients range in age from a baby born a minute before the December 31, 2012 cutoff to a 108-year-old
The Alaska Permanent Fund was created by a 1976 constitutional amendment. It requires a portion of state oil revenues to be placed in a savings account, which would be made available when the North Slope oil fields were tapped out.
The annual dividend payments to Alaska residents began in 1982. While other jurisdictions have resource wealth funds, the Alaska Permanent Fund’s payout is unique.
In order to qualify for the Alaska dividend, residents must have lived in the state for an entire calendar year or been born in the past year. There are a few allowances for extended absences.
This year’s relatively low dividend payout is due partly to the 2008 stock market collapse. The PFD checks are based on a five-year performance average of the fund, notes Alaska Dispatch.
However, next year’s checks will likely be higher, according to acting Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell. The 2013 dividend check isn’t the smallest the Alaska Permanent Fund has sent out. However, it pales in comparison to 2008′s record high $2,069 check.
The dividend checks are a huge perk for Alaska residency and a major driving force for the state’s economy. The checks are often used for college and retirement savings, big-ticket purchases, vacations, and paying off bills.
While the majority of recipients are honest, some have been indicted for fraud. One case involved a couple, who was indicted last year for claiming $36,592 in dividends for supposed Alaska residency. At the time of their claim, the family was actually living in Hawaii.
Last year’s Alaska Permanent Fund dividend was $878. People who asked for direct deposit this year will see their $900 on October 3.
[Image by US Fish and Wildlife Service via WIkimedia Commons]