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Quality Systems moves up dividend payment date

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) -- Quality Systems is moving up the payment date of its regular quarterly dividend, a step that many companies are taking ahead of impending tax increases and government spending cuts at the start of 2013.

The White House and Republican congressional leaders are trying to strike a deal to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff, a reference to the combination of simultaneous tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect at the start of 2013.

Quality Systems Inc. is the latest company to move up the payment of its quarterly dividend to protect investors from potentially having to pay higher taxes on dividend income starting in January.

The Irvine, Calif., company said Tuesday that the payment date for its quarterly dividend of 17.5 cents per share is being moved to Dec. 28 from Jan. 4, 2013. The record date of Dec. 14 remains the same.

Quality Systems develops and markets healthcare information systems.

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.

Its shares finished at $17.94 on Monday.