Birch bark texture.

News

Ahtna COVID Reimbursement Program to Aid Shareholders Impacted by Pandemic

Ahtna is pleased to offer a reimbursement program to Ahtna shareholders who have suffered direct financial hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide a one-time financial reimbursement to each qualifying shareholder for expenses arising from the pandemic. This program is funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING AHTNA’S COVID REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM

1. What is Ahtna’s COVID Reimbursement program?

Pursuant to federal law, the U.S. government has provided Ahtna with relief funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahtna has decided to use these funds to help Ahtna shareholders for necessary expenditures that they made responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds have been provided by the U.S. government to Ahtna (and not directly to its shareholders) and must be used in accordance with the requirements of federal law, which places strict restrictions on Ahtna’s use of those funds.

The program is designed to allow Ahtna to efficiently distribute funds to its shareholders who need it most due to the impacts they have suffered from the pandemic. A substantial portion of the relief funds that Ahtna received from the federal government are being used to support this grant program.

The questions on the Application are all designed to help Ahtna ensure that the grants comply with federal law. The U.S. Department of the Treasury may later conduct an audit of Ahtna’s use of the CARES Act funds it received to ensure they were used in compliance with the law. That is why it is critically important that Ahtna takes these steps and requests this information from its shareholders.

2. Do I have to have had COVID-19 to be eligible to apply?

No, you do not have to have contracted COVID-19 to be eligible for the program. Ahtna’s COVID Reimbursement program is open to all eligible Ahtna shareholders who have suffered direct financial hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Who is eligible to apply?

All Ahtna shareholders with 10 or more shares (as of the Shareholder of Record date of April 7, 2021) are eligible to apply. You must also be 18 years or age or older to submit an application. The reimbursement program is open to all eligible Ahtna shareholders who have suffered direct financial hardship arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no income requirements and you do not have to have contracted COVID-19 to apply.

4. Where do I apply?

Shareholders can apply online by logging into their shareholder portal account at MyAhtna.com. If you do not currently have a MyAhtna shareholder portal account, you can create one by going to myahtna.com. If using a computer, once logged in you will see a link titled Apply for the COVID Reimbursement Program in the top right corner of your screen. If using a smart phone or tablet, you may have to scroll down to see the application link.

The application is only available online. However, if you cannot access the online application for any reason, please email covidreimbursement@ahtna.net or call our Shareholder Services team at 907-822-3476 (Glennallen) or 907-868-8250 (Anchorage).

5. When is the application due?

The application deadline is September 30, 2021. Applications will not be accepted after 11:59 P.M. Alaska Daylight Time (AKDT) on September 30, 2021.

6. What is the deadline for address and direct deposit changes?

The deadline for address and direct deposit changes is September 30, 2021. Please visit www.ahtna.com/direct-deposit to sign up for direct deposit. Shareholders can update their contact information using the shareholder portal (MyAhtna.com) or by emailing Shareholder Services at shservices@ahtna.net.

7. When will funds be distributed?

The estimated date that checks will be mailed and funds direct deposited is October 18, 2021.

8. Are these payments a dividend? Will shareholders receive different grant amounts?

These payments are not a dividend. Federal law prohibits Ahtna from distributing these funds as a dividend to its shareholders.

Federal law is very clear and it requires that the funds be distributed and used to cover necessary expenditures arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and based on demonstrated need. The funds must be used consistently with the limitations set forth by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Under federal law, Ahtna is not permitted to distribute these funds as a dividend. Ahtna is also prohibited from making distributions on a per capita basis. Ahtna can only provide grants based on a shareholder’s demonstrated need. That is why the Application requests information to allow Ahtna to award grants based on individualized, demonstrated need.

Different shareholders will likely receive different grant amounts because they have experienced different amounts of eligible expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

9. What will the amounts of the grants be?

Ahtna has not yet determined the amounts of the grants it will award. The final determination will be based upon Ahtna’s review of the information provided on the applications it receives.

10. What types of expenses or reimbursements am I allowed to claim?

Federal law requires that Ahtna may only use the funds it received to fund or reimburse necessary expenditures arising from the COVID-19 pandemic during the period March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2021. The expenditures claimed must have been incurred during this period and be directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on federal law, Ahtna’s COVID Reimbursement Program Grant Application outlines examples of eligible expenditures in Section II.A of the Application. These examples cannot and do not include every eligible expense. But they are designed to capture the general categories described by the U.S. Government.

You should check every category that describes expenses that you and/or your dependents incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

11. Why are some categories of financial hardship attributable to COVID-19 not included? My income was significantly reduced and/or my business suffered as a result of the pandemic—why can’t I claim those losses on the Application?

Federal law imposes restrictions and limitations on the types of expenditures that are eligible to be reimbursed. As a general matter, the funds may be used to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of Ahtna shareholders rather than simply a loss of income or business. For example, while grant funds cannot be used to supplement lost income, they can be used for mortgage, rent, or utility bills that you were unable to pay because of the lost income arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. See FAQ #12.

12. If my mortgage payments exceeded $7,500 for the period March 2020 through December 2021, can I claim $7,500 or more in eligible expenses?

Based on that fact alone, the answer is no.

The Treasury Department guidance authorizes expenditures “to assist individuals with payment of overdue rent or mortgage payments to avoid eviction or foreclosure.”* Based on that guidance, an applicant may claim the amount of rent or mortgage payments that are currently unpaid or overdue as eligible expenditures if the non-payment is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In sum, the amount of eligible expenses claimed in this category should correspond to the amounts that remain unpaid or outstanding.

However, because this grant program is commencing toward the end of the COVID-19 period identified by the Treasury Department, Ahtna understands that shareholders may have had overdue mortgage or rent payments resulting from the pandemic that they have since been forced to pay through other means.

Accordingly, in instances where a shareholder had unpaid mortgage, rent, or utility bills during the period March 2020 through December 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and was forced to pay those overdue amounts by taking out loans or engaging in other extraordinary measures (e.g., disbursements from a 401k or other long-term retirement account), the applicant may include those amounts if they document the specific amounts and the extraordinary measures they were forced to take.

In making this determination, applicants should not include any overdue payments made using funds arising from any other federal program. The fact that an applicant was required to withdraw funds from a savings or checking account is not an extraordinary measure.

*U.S. Department of Treasury Guidance, at 4189.

13. What if I had expenditures related to COVID-19 that are not listed on the application?

If you have categories of expenditures directly attributable to COVID-19 that are not described on the application, you may include those by selecting the final option in Section II.A. However, you are required to provide additional information on the Application regarding the expense so that Ahtna can determine whether it is eligible under the grant program. If you select this option, an Ahtna team member may follow up with additional questions on the nature of your claimed expense.

In some cases, an expense not specifically listed on the application may nevertheless fall within one of the broad categories that are included in Section II.B. If you have questions about a particular expense, please call our Shareholder Services team at 907-822-3476 (Glennallen) or 907-868-8250 (Anchorage) or email covidreimbursement@ahtna.net.

14. How do I calculate the “Degree of Financial Hardship” listed in Section II.B of the Application?

The range of financial hardship selected in response to the question in Section II.B of the Application is intended for you to give the best estimate you can of the total financial hardship you (or your dependents) suffered as a result of the categories of expenditures described in Section II.A. Ahtna understands it may not be possible to provide an exact dollar figure. That is why the amounts are stated in ranges. However, you should use your best efforts to select the range that most accurately estimates your financial hardship. You should be able to identify specific facts or purchases that substantiate or explain your estimate.

With respect to larger claimed expenses, you may wish to refer to receipts or other documentation to ensure an accurate estimate.

15. The Application asks me to certify the accuracy of the information and that I understand I should have documentation of my expenses. Do I need to have receipts for every expense I claim on the application?

No. There is no requirement that you must have a receipt or documentary evidence for every expense claimed.

Instead, there is a requirement that your estimated financial hardship must be accurate and truthful to the best of your ability. That means being able to identify specific facts or purchases to substantiate or explain your estimate.

The need to have a receipt or other documentation will vary based on the circumstances of the expense at issue.

Receipts or documentation may not be readily available in every case particularly for smaller purchases or instances where it is necessary to estimate the expenses (e.g., increased food or childcare costs). However, with respect to larger expenses such as significant teleworking expenses or expenses related to mortgage payments, it may be more important to have receipts or other supporting documentation to support your estimate.

Ahtna is not requiring that you submit supporting documentation or receipts with your grant application. However, in some cases, Ahtna may need to request documentation or further explanation of an expense. If you have questions about a particular expense, please call our Shareholder Services team at 907-822-3476 (Glennallen) or 907-868-8250 (Anchorage) or email covidreimbursement@ahtna.net.

16. For the expenses claimed on the Application, am I limited to expenses I personally incurred, or can I include expenses incurred by my family or dependents?

As noted in the Application, you should list eligible expenses that were incurred either by you or by your dependents. However, if you know a family member or dependent is filing their own grant application, you should exclude the categories or amounts of any expenditures claimed by that family member or dependent when completing your own application. Ahtna cannot reimburse you for expenses that have been, or will be, reimbursed by another governmental program.

17. Why are there so many warnings about possible civil and criminal penalties? Will Ahtna be audited? Will I be audited?

Because of concerns about fraud and non-compliance, the U.S. Government has been active in investigating the use of CARES Act funds to ensure they are being used in compliance with federal law. Ahtna is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the grants it issues are used by recipients in compliance with the law.

The U.S. Department of Treasury Guidance provides that:

“a grant or loan . . . provided by a recipient using payments from the Fund must be used by the subrecipient only to purchase (or reimburse a purchase of) goods or services for which receipt both is needed within the covered period and occurs within the covered period. The direct recipient of payments from the Fund is ultimately responsible for compliance with this limitation on use of payments from the Fund.”*

Because of this obligation, there is a chance that the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General may examine the degree to which Ahtna met its obligation by reviewing the information obtained as part of this grant program. It is impossible to predict whether the U.S. Government would also audit individual grant recipients, but it is at least possible.

*U.S. Department of Treasury Guidance, at 4184.


Here is what you need to know:

Application Deadline:

September 30, 2021.

Funding Amount:

The amount of the grants will be determined based upon Ahtna’s review of the information you provide in your application. Please note you may be required to provide documentation or other evidence to support the statements in your application so please ensure the information you provide is accurate.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Ahtna shareholder with 10 or more shares
    (as of the Shareholder of Record date of April 7, 2021)
  • 18 years of age or older
    (as of the Shareholder of Record date of April 7, 2021)

How to Apply:

Apply online by logging in to your MyAhtna account at myahtna.com. MyAhtna is a free, online resource available to all eligible Ahtna shareholders and fiduciaries. If you do not currently have a MyAhtna account, you can create one by going to myahtna.com as well.

Non-Taxable:

The Ahtna COVID Reimbursement program is non-taxable as it qualifies as a general welfare exclusion; recipients will not receive a 1099.

Application Assistance:

If you are an Elder or do not have access to the internet, please call our Shareholder Services team at 907-822-3476 (Glennallen) or 907-868-8250 (Anchorage) so they can help you complete your application by phone.

Address and Direct Deposit Changes:

The deadline for address and direct deposit changes is September 23, 2021. Please click here to sign up for direct deposit. Shareholders can update their contact information using the shareholder portal (MyAhtna.com) or by emailing Shareholder Services at shservices@ahtna.net.

Questions:

For questions on the Ahtna COVID Reimbursement program, please call our Shareholder Services team at 907-822-3476 (Glennallen) or 907-868-8250 (Anchorage) or email covidreimbursement@ahtna.net.