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Alaskans who serve in the military will be allowed more time away from the state before losing their eligibility for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend under a new state law.
The dividend is paid out of Alaska's oil-wealth savings account to every eligible man, woman and child in the state. Dividends last year were worth $1,540, and this year are expected to be approximately $1,100.
Senate Bill 148 by Anchorage Republican Sen. John Cowdery was signed June 12 by Gov. Frank Murkowski.
The law increases the amount of time military personnel can spend away from the state to 180 days a year before becoming ineligible for the dividend. The former limit for allowable absences was 45 days. The new law also applies to the spouses and children of those serving in the military.
The limit is in addition to time spent away from the state while serving on active duty, which is not limited.
The law brings those serving in the military in line with all other Alaskans, who are given 180 days of allowable absence from the state, said Sharon Barton, director of the Department of Revenue's Permanent Fund Dividend Division.
In addition to the increase, the state also has extended the filing period for this year's dividend for military personnel to Sept. 15.
"This gives those folks who did not apply for the 2003 dividend because they were over the 45-day limit a chance to apply under the new law," Barton said.
She was uncertain of how many new dividend applicants the law will create. Barton said about 14,000 of the 590,000 dividend applicants in 2001 were military personnel.
A statement released Monday by the Department of Revenue noted that additional allowable absences will be limited.
Allowable absences for full-time students who also serve in the military will be limited to 120 days in addition to the 180 days allotted for their military duty. All other allowable absences, such as those for hospitalization outside of the state or caring for a terminally ill family member, are limited to 45 days.
For more information, contact (800) 733-8813, in-state, (907) 465-2326 outside Alaska or www.pfd.state.ak.us.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at email@example.com.