by Max Brantley
The New York Times notes that Walmart has moved up payment of its quarterly dividend in anticipation of a federal tax increase. The move of the dividend from 2013 to late 2012 could save $180 million for the Walton family.
The federal tax on dividends is currently capped at 15 percent. Without a compromise on the end of Bush-era tax increases, the rate could jump to 39.6 percent, plus a surcharge for the new health legislation. The change could mean the difference between a $95 million tax payment this year and $276 million on the family's hundreds of millions in dividend income.
Silver lining for Arkansas: Moving that payment to 2012 will guarantee Arkansas income tax for those claiming Arkansas residence at the current rate - 7 percent. Republicans are spoiling to cut Arkansas income taxes next year. Any state income tax bill will be deductible from federal income tax returns and reduce the effective state rate by whatever effective overall rate the Waltons pay on their federal returns. I suspect they'll scrape by.