REIT Taxable Income and Net Operating Losses
REIT taxable income/(loss) is a term that describes the Company's operating results calculated in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code. The Company's REIT taxable income/(loss) is computed differently from net income or loss as computed in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as reported in the Company's consolidated financial statements. Depending on the number and size of the various items or transactions being accounted for differently, the differences between REIT taxable income or loss and GAAP net income or loss can be substantial and each item can affect several reporting periods. Generally, these items are timing or temporary differences between years; for example, an item that may be a deduction for GAAP net income/loss in the current year may not be a deduction for REIT taxable income/loss until a later year.
In order to maintain its qualification as a REIT, the Company is generally required (among other things) to annually distribute dividends to its stockholders in an amount at least equal to 90% of the Company's REIT taxable income. Additionally, as a REIT, the Company may be subject to a federal excise tax if it distributes less than 85% of its REIT taxable income by the end of the calendar year. Accordingly, the Company's dividends are generally based on REIT taxable income, as determined for federal income tax purposes, as opposed to its net income computed in accordance with GAAP. Dividends are paid if, when, and as declared by the Company's Board of Directors.
As described above, a REIT may be subject to a federal excise tax if it distributes less than 85% of its REIT taxable income by the end of a calendar year. In calculating the amount of excise tax payable in a given year, if any, Bimini Capital reduces REIT taxable income by distributions made to stockholders in the form of dividends and/or net operating losses ("NOL's") carried-over from prior years, to the extent any are available. Since income subject to excise tax is REIT taxable income after deducting qualifying dividends and the application of NOL's (in that order), a REIT may avoid excise taxes solely by application of available NOL's without paying qualifying dividends to stockholders. Because Bimini Capital had $13.8 million of NOL's as of December 31, 2012, in the future it could avoid excise taxes by applying such NOL's against REIT taxable income without making any distributions to stockholders. Further, the REIT could avoid the obligation to pay excise taxes through a combination of qualifying dividends and the application of NOL's. In any case, the Company is unlikely to declare and pay distributions to stockholders, or if declared, any such dividends may be less than REIT taxable income, until the existing NOL's are consumed.