NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Adam Smith was wrong.
In his classic The Wealth of Nations, available free from Penn State, Smith predicted that capitalism's winners would reach a point of satiation, that rather than continue to hoard their wealth they would spread it around, bending capitalism toward the general welfare.
Smith never met Bill Frist of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA)-controlling Frist family. Or Las Vegas Sands (LVS) CEO Sheldon Adelson. Or Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison. Or dozens of other extremely-rich people who, appalled that taxes on dividends, currently at the 15% capital gains rate, would rise in January to the rates on ordinary income, as high as 39.6%, with a special 3.8% tax on investment income on top to pay for health reform, are cashing out early, as our Jonathan Heller reported Tuesday.
The folks at iStockAnalyst say total special dividends are up 400% this year, thanks to scheduled changes in the tax law.If Frist and Adelson and Ellison had been really clever they might have had the good sense of George Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, when the estate tax was at zero, before it was reimposed, as The Los Angeles Times reported at the time. You can still get in on this action. While many special dividends have already been paid, or their record dates passed, I've compiled a small collection of deals from press releases, ordered by record date:
- Las Vegas Sands (LVS), $2.75/share to shareholders of record December 6.
- Sturm Ruger (RGR), $4.50/share to shareholders of record December 7.
- Heartland Express (HTLD), $1/share to shareholders of record December 7.
- Costco (COST), $7/share to shareholders of record December 10.
- Lancaster Colony (LANC), $5/share to shareholders of record December 10.
- Brown Forman (BF.B), $4/share to shareholders of record December 12.
- Electro-Scientific Industries (ESIO), $2/share to shareholders of record December 13.
- Cato (CATO), $1/share to shareholders of record December 14.
- Dish Network (DISH), $1/share to shareholders of record December 14.
- Pet-Med Express (PETS), $1/share to shareholders of record December 14.
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