Share your dividend wealth

The amount of this year’s Alaska Permanent Fund dividend was uncertain as of the Sentinel’s printing deadline Monday evening, but it is certain that the payments will total more than $1 billion above last year’s checks, maybe a lot more, depending on final budget action by the House and Senate.

No doubt a lot of families need every bit of that to pay rent, buy food and clothes, cover utilities and fuel, particularly in rural communities where there are few cash-paying jobs.

Equally of little doubt, a lot of Alaskans never counted on the oversized, overstuffed election-year dividend approved by legislators. And while they can find uses for the money, many can afford to share some of their high-oil-price largesse with others.

For Alaskans who are not familiar with the Pick.Click.Give. program, there is still time to learn. The program, run by the Permanent Fund Dividend Division, makes it easy for people to go online, pick from hundreds of charitable organizations across the state, then click and give to the ones they support. The donation will be deducted from the dividend and sent directly to the nonprofits to fund their good work.

Though the deadline to have applied for this fall’s PFD was March 31, there still is plenty of time to share some of this year’s jackpot dividend with groups that help people in need and communities year-round. Alaskans have until Aug. 31 to go back online and sign up for Pick.Click.Give., or to increase their donation. It’s easy to go to the dividend division website at pfd.alaska.gov and choose the Pick.Click.Give. button on the right-hand side.

With the fall payment expected to range between $2,600 and $5,500 per person, depending on House-Senate negotiations in the Capitol, this would be a good year for Alaskans to share more than their weak response under the program’s first dozen or so years. Last year, dividend recipients contributed less than one-half of 1% of their money through Pick.Click.Give. Of the $10 billion handed out in dividends since the charitable donation program started in 2009, Alaskans picked and clicked about $30 million for nonprofits on the list.

Certainly, many Alaskans give much more than that every year to charitable organizations directly, whether in cash, their time, donated food and materials. There is no need to only use the dividend checkoff to help neighbors and communities — but it’s easy and convenient, and comes at the same time as people are filling out the form for the annual benefit provided by Alaska’s oil-wealth savings account.

With this year’s fall payment likely to set a new record somewhere between double and quintuple last year’s $1,114 check, it would be a good time to add a middle name to the PFD: Permanent Fund Sharing Dividend.

— Wrangell Sentinel

 

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