Our 2012 awarded compensation ratio was 59.4%, compared to our 2011 awarded compensation ratio of 62.0%. Awarded compensation expense for 2012 was $1,171 million, essentially unchanged from 2011, even as operating revenue rose 5%.
Our goal remains to grow awarded compensation expense at a slower rate than revenue growth, and to achieve a compensation-to-operating revenue ratio over the cycle in the mid- to high-50s percentage range on both an awarded and adjusted GAAP basis, with consistent deferral policies
Adjusted non-compensation expense
for full-year 2012 was $421 million, excluding related 2012 charges
, 5% higher than 2011. In 2012, non-compensation expense was negatively impacted by higher occupancy costs and transaction-related third-party fees, partly offset by lower professional fees. The ratio of adjusted non-compensation expense to operating revenue for 2012 was 21.4%, essentially unchanged compared to 2011.
Adjusted non-compensation expense for the fourth quarter of 2012, excluding related 2012 charges, was $115 million, 6% higher than the prior-year period. The ratio of adjusted non-compensation expense to operating revenue for fourth-quarter 2012 was 20.0%, compared to 23.2% for fourth-quarter 2011.
Our goal remains to achieve an adjusted non-compensation expense-to-operating revenue ratio over the cycle of 16% to 20%.
The provision for taxes, on an adjusted basis
, was $53 million for full-year 2012 and $15 million for the fourth quarter of 2012. The effective tax rate on such adjusted basis was 21.3% for full-year 2012, compared to 20.7% for full-year 2011.
CAPITAL MANAGEMENT AND BALANCE SHEET
Our primary capital management goals include managing debt and returning capital to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.
In 2012, we achieved our objective of returning $200 million of surplus cash
to shareholders, in advance of our year-end 2013 target.
For the full-year 2012, Lazard returned $540 million to shareholders, which included $140 million in dividends, $355 million in share repurchases and $45 million in satisfaction of employee tax obligations in lieu of share issuances upon vesting of equity grants. The $140 million of dividends included $23 million in a fourth-quarter special dividend of $0.20 per share on outstanding Class A common stock and $23 million in acceleration of the fourth-quarter dividend of $0.20 per share on outstanding Class A common stock, which ordinarily would have been payable in February 2013.