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Hundreds of dividend applicants jump the gun

Posted: December 30, 2011 - 1:05am

FAIRBANKS — Filing for an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend check is a happy ritual for most Alaskans, but this year some residents have been a little too eager to get their paperwork in the mail.

The Alaska Department of Revenue has received hundreds of applications this week for the 2012 PFD and expects as many as 1,000 could arrive in Juneau by the end of the year.

That prompt attention comes with a drawback: Applications aren’t valid unless they’re signed and delivered after Jan. 1.

Dan DeBartolo, the state’s dividend operations manager, said a miscommunication led the printer to mail out applications about a week early this year. Although the forms state that they must be submitted after Jan. 1, it didn’t stop many residents from returning them immediately.

Those applicants won’t be eligible for next year’s PFD without some follow-up paperwork.

DeBartolo said a letter will be sent to early applicants, who must return a signature page to make the form valid.

DeBartolo said it’s not an uncommon situation, although this year’s batch of early applicants is significantly larger than usual. He said senior centers and community centers around the state are mailed application forms each year and that some inevitably put out their stacks early. He said a few hundred early applications arrived last year.

In the bigger picture, even the possibility of 1,000 early applications this year isn’t a huge problem in an office that will process about 670,000 forms this year.

“We’ll see a few more this year, but nothing we can’t handle,” DeBartolo said.

DeBartolo said he didn’t know how many applications were sent out early this year but that most Alaskans no longer receive dividend applications by mail. The state stopped mailing applications out to every resident a few years ago, and they currently are delivered only to households with residents age 55 and older who filed a paper application the previous year.

More than 80 percent of dividend applications are filed online, DeBartolo said.

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