Wal-Mart moves up dividend to avoid ‘fiscal cliff’

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Mon Nov 19, 2012 – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. moved its planned dividend into late December from early January as it tries to help its investors avoid a looming jump in the tax rate on shareholder payouts that is part of the so-called fiscal cliff.

“There are complex fiscal and federal tax rate issues that may not be resolved in the next few weeks, despite the ongoing good faith negotiations between the administration and Congress to resolve details related to the fiscal cliff,” Wal-Mart said in a statement.

“In light of this uncertainty, the board determined that moving our dividend payment up by a few days to 2012 was in the best interests of our shareholders.”

The family of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton owns roughly half of the shares in the world’s largest retailer and probably would be among those forced to pay much higher taxes on dividends paid after Dec. unless Congress takes action.

Two of Sam Walton’s sons, Rob Walton and Jim Walton, are board members, and Chairman Rob Walton’s son-in-law, Gregory Penner, is also on the board. The Waltons and Penner recused themselves from the board discussion and vote on the dividend date change, Wal-Mart said.