Finance Formulas / July 13, 2018 / Aniyah Booth
A dividend is allocated as a fixed amount per share, with shareholders receiving a dividend in proportion to their shareholding. For the joint-stock company, paying dividends is not an expense; rather, it is the division of after-tax profits among shareholders. Retained earnings (profits that have not been distributed as dividends) are shown in the shareholders' equity section on the company's balance sheet - the same as its issued share capital. Public companies usually pay dividends on a fixed schedule, but may declare a dividend at any time, sometimes called a special dividend to distinguish it from the fixed schedule dividends. Cooperatives, on the other hand, allocate dividends according to members' activity, so their dividends are often considered to be a pre-tax expense.
Because of the cost principle (and other accounting principles), assets are generally reported on the balance sheet at cost (or lower) amounts. As a result, it would be incorrect to assume that the total amount of stockholders' equity is equal to the current value, or worth, of the corporation.
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