Corporate dividends have flourished recently, but a cominghike in the federal tax on dividends could discourage the renewedcorporate interest in making dividend payments.

While dividends took a beating in 2008 and 2009 in the wake ofthe financial crisis, “they have now come back and set a brand newrecord,” says Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&PDow Jones Indices. He expects S&P 500 companies to pay a record$276 billion in dividends this year, surpassing the previous recordof $248 billion paid in 2008.

Silverblatt, pictured at left, notes that 400 of theS&P 500 companies currently pay dividends, the highest levelsince 1999, and predicts almost 70% of those that paydividends will increase their payments this year. Ten S&P500 companies initiated dividends so far this year, including techgiants Apple and Dell, following the 22 companies that did so in2011.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.