TAX RISE: Investors pay a 15 percent tax on most income from dividend-paying stocks. That rate will rise in January unless Congress and President Obama reach a compromise on taxes and spending.
EARN MORE, PAY MORE: Dividends would be taxed as ordinary income in 2013. So rates will go up depending on which income bracket a taxpayer is in. The highest earners could pay 43.4 percent.
BEAT THE DEADLINE: A few companies plan to make special payouts to investors next month. That way investors will pay 15 percent in taxes, rather than next year's potentially higher rates.