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Jefferies pulls forward 15-cent dividend

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jefferies Group declared a quarterly dividend of 7.5 cents Friday, pulling forward a payout that would have been made in 2013 and protecting its shareholders from a potential jump in tax rates.

The dividend will be paid on Dec. 31 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 21.

Jefferies Group Inc. 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.