(NEW YORK) -- While Congress and the White House negotiate a mix of tax increases and budget cuts, many firms decided to pay shareholders an early or special dividend ahead of an anticipated increase in the dividend tax rate.
Not surprisingly, the largest individual shareholders of these companies often sit on the board of directors, reaping millions of dollars in tax savings.
Wealth-X, an information research firm of ultra high-net worth individuals worth over $30 million, compiled a list of the 10 largest special dividend-paying companies based in the U.S. this year as of Dec. 12 and the tax savings their largest individual shareholders are receiving ahead of the fiscal cliff.
The dividend tax rate is currently at 15 percent but the president has proposed increasing it to upwards of 43.4 percent starting in 2013 to plug the ballooning trillion-dollar budget deficit.
All 10 individuals, led by Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands, either sit on the board of directors, are senior executive directors, chairmen or CEOs of the listed companies.
In the fourth quarter, the total dividends received by these shareholders exceeded $2.1 billion, which is $602 million more than what they would receive should tax rates increase.
The combined wealth of the shareholders on the list is $110.4 billion, representing one fifth of the combined market capitalization of the top 10 largest dividend-paying companies.
The dividends received by the shareholders on the list represent 15 percent of the more than $14 billion payout by the top 10 companies:
- Sheldon Adelson, Las Vegas Sands: $1.2 billion
- Thomas Frist III, HCA: $497 million
- Lawrence Ellison, Oracle: $200 million
- Charles Johnson, Franklin Resources: $105 million
- Stephen Wynn, Wynn Resorts: $75 million
- Vincent Ryan, Iron Mountain: $29 million
- Russell Wight Jr., Alexander's: $27 million
- James Sinegal, Costco: $14 million
- Cornwell Appleby, Booz Allen Hamilton: $10 million
- James Walton, Walmart: $4 million
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