Qualified dividend

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Qualified dividends, as defined by the United States Internal Revenue Code, are ordinary dividends that meet specific criteria to be taxed at the lower long-term capital gains tax rate rather than at higher tax rate for an individual's ordinary income. From 2003 to 2007, qualified dividends were taxed at 15% or 5% depending on the individual's ordinary income tax bracket, and from 2008 to 2012, the tax rate on qualified dividends was reduced to 0% for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% ordinary income tax brackets, and starting in 2013 the rates on qualified dividends are 0%, 15% and 20%. The 20% rate is for taxpayers in the 39.6% tax bracket.[1][2]

In order to be taxed at the qualified dividend rate, the dividend must:

For dividends that do not meet the above criteria, the effective qualified dividend tax rate is determined by the date on which the dividend was paid and the individual's ordinary income tax bracket.

Dividend Taxation in the United States: 2003 + [4]
2003–20072008–20122013 +
Ordinary Income Tax RateOrdinary Dividend
Tax Rate
Qualified Dividend
Tax Rate
Ordinary Dividend
Tax Rate
Qualified Dividend
Tax Rate
Ordinary Dividend
Tax Rate
Qualified Dividend
Tax Rate
10%10%5%10%0%10%0%
15%15%5%15%0%15%0%
25%25%15%25%15%25%15%
28%28%15%28%15%28%15%
33%33%15%33%15%33%15%
35%35%15%35%15%35%15%
39.6%N/AN/AN/AN/A39.6%20%

The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 ("JGTRRA") reduced all taxpayers' personal income tax rates and cut the tax rate on qualified dividends from the ordinary income tax rates to the lower long-term capital gains tax rates. At the same time the bill reduced the maximum long-term capital gains tax rate from 20% to 15% and established a 5% long-term capital gains tax rate for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% ordinary income tax brackets. The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 ("TIPRA") prevented several tax provisions of the 2003 bill from sunsetting until 2010 and further lowered the tax rate on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to 0% from 5% for low to middle income taxpayers in the 10% and 15% ordinary income tax bracket. The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended for two additional years the changes enacted to the taxation of qualified dividends in the JGTRRA and TIPRA. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (signed on January 2, 2013) made qualified dividends a permanent part of the tax code but added a 20% rate on income in the new highest 39.6% tax bracket.[2]

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