MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Briggs & Stratton Corp. said Wednesday that its board has approved the pulling forward of its 12-cent quarterly cash dividend into 2012, protecting the company's shareholders from potential tax increases next year.
The Milwaukee-based engine maker said that the dividend, which was previously approved on Oct. 17, will be paid on Dec. 31 instead of Jan. 2. The record date remains Dec. 14.
Briggs & Stratton is the latest company to move up its quarterly payout or issue a special end-of-year payment to protect investors from potentially having to pay higher taxes on dividend income starting in January.
Many companies are reviewing their dividend policies now that it appears investors could soon pay higher taxes. Since 2003, investors have paid a maximum 15 percent on dividend income. But that historically low rate will expire in January unless Congress and President Barack Obama reach a compromise on taxes and government spending.
As it stands, dividends will be taxed as ordinary income in 2013, the same as wages, so rates will go up depending on which income bracket a taxpayer is in. For the highest earners, the dividend rate would jump to 43.4 percent.
Briggs & Stratton shares rose 9 cents to $20.48 in afternoon trading.