Adelson, Wynn, Ellison Among Top Fiscal Cliff Dividend Tax Winners

Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 02:18 PM

By John Morgan

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Wealthy corporate chieftains, including gambling czars Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn, and software guru Larry Ellison, are among the biggest beneficiaries of special dividends being paid by their firms ahead of possible tax hikes in 2013, according to ABC News.

All ten individuals either sit on the board of directors or are top officers of the listed companies. The list was compiled by Wealth-X, a research firm that follows high net-worth individuals.

“If you’re a founder of a big company, or chairman, it means a lot to you, but I’m pretty skeptical that there was any real enduring value in these special dividends beyond the payments themselves,” John Peters, editor of Morningstar’s Dividend Investor, told ABC News.

Editor's Note:
How to Pay Zero Taxes . . . Legally

Since Congress and the White House have begun intense negotiations ahead of a fiscal cliff of impending large tax increases and spending cuts, a growing list of firms have opted to pay special dividends before the tax hikes might take effect next year.

The total dividends received by the top 10 shareholders cited by ABC News exceeded $2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, which is a whopping $602 million more than they would have received after the anticipated 2013 tax increases, the network said.

The dividend tax rate is currently 15 percent, but President Barack Obama has proposed increasing it to 39.6 percent, plus a 3.8 percent Medicare surtax for high-income earners.

The special dividends received by the top shareholders, according to ABC News, are as follows:

• $1.2 billion - Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands resort group.

• $497 million - Thomas Frist III, board member of hospital operator HCA Holdings.

• $200 million - Lawrence Ellison, CEO of Oracle.

• $105 million - Charles Johnson, chairman of investment firm Franklin Resources.

• $75 million - Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts.

• $29 million - Vincent Ryan, board member of real estate firm Iron Mountain.

• $27 million - Russell Wight Jr., board member of real estate investment trust Alexander’s.

• $14 million - James Sinegal, board member and former CEO of Costco.

• $10 million - Cornwell Appleby, senior executive advisor to consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

• $4 million - James Walton, board member of Wal-Mart.

CNN Money reported hundreds of companies — particularly utilities and telecom firms — are lobbying lawmakers in Washington against the dividend tax hikes. Among their objections is that dividend hikes will hit seniors hard.

“These are not fat-cat investors. These are people with kitchen table economics that drives their need to invest in these types of securities,” said Thomas Fanning, CEO of Atlanta-based electricity generator Southern Co.

Editor's Note:
How to Pay Zero Taxes . . . Legally

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