The declaration and ex div date is 27 Dec--today--which means it was payable in 2012, and that is on the cheaper side of the fiscal cliff dates when dividend taxes go up--if the Congress does its typical irresponsible gridlock thing on either extending the Bush era tax cuts, or most likely, creating a new tax cut incentive in 2013 when they can call it a "tax cut".
Think a reaction to Congress reinventing the wheel for their own glory and the detriment of ours.
Sorry, Mr. Deadmeat, but you are for the most part wrong about that.
You're right that the dividend will be taxed as 2011 income.
Now, go back and check PHT's history and the fund does this every year - a dividend goes ex- and record-date before the year-end, payable the next. I assume, but don't know for sure, that their theory is that since they got the income in the old year, it gets paid and taxed in the old year.
(Other dividends are being declared early this year -- Costco and the parent company of Jack Daniels are two that come to mind. This is not the case with Pioneer High Income Trust, so please don't say that is the case. Again, check PHT's dividend history -- this simply is not new.)
You -- and a bunch of other people I've read in discussing mREIT dividends, too -- are also only partially correct in the language about a dividend tax increase if there is no agreement by the jerks in Washington.
Go back and check your brokerage tax statements from last year -- I just did -- and you will find PHT's dividends are non-qualified dividends (taxed as ordinary income), rather than qualified (taxed at the preferential dividend rate put in under Mr. Bush). This is because they are comprised of interest the fund made on its high-income bonds, not on corporate profits.
So yes, if the "fiscal cliff" happens, theoretically the tax on PHT dividends will go up, but only by the amount the tax on ordinary income goes up, NOT because the preferential dividend rate is going away like it might with corporations like Costco and Jack Daniels' parent.
PHT dividends for the most part never had that preferential rate. And with only small exceptions, neither did mREITs.