On February 29, 2012, our Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.26 per share, payable on April 3, 2012 to stockholders of record at the close of business on March 20, 2012.
Dividends declared to stockholders for the three months and year ended December 31, 2011 totaled $19.0 million, or $0.26 per share, and $80.4 million, or $1.10 per share, respectively. For the three months and year ended December 31, 2010, dividends declared to stockholders totaled $23.2 million, or $0.32 per share, and $80.5 million, or $1.28 per share, respectively. Tax characteristics of all dividends are reported to stockholders on Form 1099 after the end of the calendar year.
We have elected to be taxed as a regulated investment company, or RIC, under Subchapter M of the Internal Revenue Code. To maintain our status as a RIC, we must distribute annually to our stockholders at least 90% of our investment company taxable income; and to avoid an excise tax imposed on RICs, we must distribute annually to our stockholders at least 98% of our ordinary income and 98.2% of our net capital gains. We have made, and intend to continue to make, timely distributions sufficient to satisfy the annual distribution requirements to maintain our qualification as a RIC. We also intend to make distributions of net realized capital gains, if any, at least annually. We may, at our discretion, carry forward taxable income in excess of calendar year distributions and pay a 4% excise tax on this income. We recorded a provision for federal excise taxes of approximately zero and $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively. There was no undistributed taxable income carried forward from 2011.
Dividend Reinvestment Plan
We maintain an “opt out” dividend reinvestment plan for our common stockholders. As a result, if we declare a dividend, stockholders’ cash dividends will be automatically reinvested in additional shares of our common stock, unless they specifically “opt out” of the dividend reinvestment plan so as to receive cash dividends. With respect to our dividends paid to stockholders for the years ended December 31, 2011 and 2010, dividends reinvested pursuant to our dividend reinvestment plan totaled $8.0 million and $5.5 million, respectively.