Congress back in 2001 dropped the maximum tax rate on dividends received by a taxpayer from 39.6% to 15% (plus any applicable state income taxes). But under the so-called Sunset Rule, these special low rates expire at the end of 2010. Beginning in 2011, the top rate is expected to go back to 39.6% and beginning in 2013, the effective top rate will be 43.4% after taking in account the new Medicare surtax of 3.8%.
What this means to a farmer who has a C corporation that is in the top tax bracket both at the corporate level and at the individual level is as follows:
- For 2010, your maximum combined corporate and individual income tax rate will be 44.75%
- For 2011 and 2012, your maximum combined rate will increase to 60.74%
- For 2013 and thereafter, your maximum combined rate will be a whopping 63.21%. This represents a huge 41% increase since 2010.
A tax planning tip is to review your current retained earnings and see how much you should drop out to you in the form of dividends. If the corporation needs the working capital, you can always loan it back to it at very cheap interest rates.