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Thor Industries declares special dividend

JACKSON CENTER, Ohio (AP) -- Thor Industries Inc. said that its board approved a special cash dividend of $1.50 per share and pulled the company's regular quarterly cash dividend of 18 cents per share into 2012, protecting the company's shareholders against possible tax increases next year.

The Jackson Center, Ohio-based company said Tuesday that both the special dividend and regular dividend will be paid on Dec. 28 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 21.

Thor, which makes recreational vehicles, commercial buses and ambulances, is the latest company to move up its quarterly payout or issue a special end-of-year payment to protect investors from potentially higher taxes on dividend income starting in January.

Many companies are reviewing their dividend policies. 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.

Thor shares rose 55 cents to $37.49 in afternoon trading.