At the end of 2012, many investors received an unexpected gift…special dividends paid by companies in anticipation of changes in the income tax laws. Because of the so-called “dividend cliff”, 483 companies paid a new or increased dividend on a “one-time” basis or paid their 2013 dividends earlier than planned (prior to December 31, 2012). This is the highest number of special dividends paid since 1955 and almost four times the number paid in 2011.