In a Bloomberg story By Hui-yong Yu, REITs in U.S. Consider Paying Dividends in Stock to Save Cash, many publicly traded REITs may take advantage of a IRS ruling allowing them to pay dividends instead of cash.
On December 10, 2008 the Internal Revenue Service issued Revenue Procedure 2008-68 announcing that the IRS will treat a cash option stock dividend as satisfying a public REIT’s distribution requirements for 2008 and 2009 so long as shareholders can elect to take at least 10% of the dividend in cash.
According to a REIT Alert from Goodwin Procter, IRS Issues Guidance on Taxable Stock Dividends:
The Revenue Procedure provides that the IRS will treat a capped cash option stock dividend by a REIT as a taxable dividend, and will consider the amount of stock distributed to be equal to the amount of cash which could have been received instead, if:
- the dividend is made by the REIT to its shareholders with respect to its stock;
- the terms of the dividend allow each shareholder the right to elect to receive its entire distribution in either cash or stock of the REIT of equivalent value, provided that the REIT may impose a limitation on the amount of cash to be distributed in the aggregate to all shareholders of not less than 10% of the aggregate distribution; and
- the number of shares to be distributed is determined as close as practicable to the payment date based upon a formula utilizing market prices.