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Caterpillar, Others to Accelerate Payouts, Issue Special Dividends Before Fiscal Cliff

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and a string of other companies Wednesday disclosed plans to pull forward their quarterly dividend payments, joining a growing list of those making moves ahead of next year's possibly impending "fiscal cliff."Next month, several hundred billion dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts--dubbed the fiscal cliff--will begin if Congress and the White House don't intervene. The increases include a higher tax rate on dividends, and dozens of companies have approved one-time special dividend payments for December, while others have moved their quarterly payouts to December instead of early 2013.Caterpillar's board is accelerating its quarterly dividend of 52 cents a share, originally to be paid in next year's first quarter, to Dec. 31. The construction and mining equipment manufacturer anticipates the move will save shareholders around $30 million. The company's cash dividend has more than tripled since 1998.Independent Bank Corp. (INDB), which owns Rockland...

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