Think salaries, bonuses, options, and stock grants are the only ways execs get paid these days? Not quite. Following the White House's move to cut the tax on dividends from 35% to 15%, many companies have boosted payouts sharply. Where execs and directors have big holdings, that means the same folks who voted in the hefty payouts will be among the largest beneficiaries. For now, it looks like the fattest checks will go to the family of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT ) Chairman S. Robson Walton, a son of the founder. He and his kin will take home $878.3 million in 2004 dividends. But that could be dwarfed if MGM (MGM ) passes a special one-time dividend of about $8 a share. Kirk Kerkorian, a director who controls 74% of MGM's shares, could reap as much as $1.4 billion. And thanks to the tax cut, these folks get to keep more of their dividend windfall than before. Based on current dividends and stockholdings, here's a look at how much execs at some big dividend-payers could take home in 2004.
By Joseph Weber, with bureau reports