The top tax rate on qualified dividends seems to have been raised from 15% to 20%, but that's still way lower than the ordinary tax rates that were supposed to kick in this year. The extra Medicare tax that might apply, depending on one's income level, would apply to all dividends so that's a wash. But AI's status as a non-REIT certainly makes sense. Today'[s rise probably reflects that to an extent, but I would expect the rise to continue as people realize the value of AI's qualified dividends.
The IRS has not issued any explanation of the new law yet. Actually, the explanation will come from the Joint Committee, not the IRS, but I don't think they've issued the official explanation yet. I can quote to you from the analyses that the major accounting firms have issued - they're always quicker than the government. Here is something from KPMG's booklet on the new law: "The Act includes provisions that Extend the current tax rates on capital gains and dividends except for
taxpayers with taxable income above $450,000/$400,000 (joint filers/singles);
for these taxpayers, the capital gains and dividend tax rate is 20% (not
including the 3.8% tax on investment income imposed by the Affordable Care
Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2013).
Because the new law was passed after New Year's and the President only signed it on the second, you need to check the dates of your google searches or other research. There were tons of articles written last year, when the ordinary income rates were scheduled to apply to dividends in 2013, and they're still out there. And they're wrong.
For most people, AI's dividends will qualify for the 15% tax rate, and for the highest income taxpayers, the rate will be 20% (plus the Medicare tax, which will certainly apply to the people in the 20% bracket, and some of the people in the 15% bracket.)