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(Rick Bowmer/AP)

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Special dividends are a tax dodge

Is that a special dividend, or a dividend recap? It’s hard to tell the difference these days.

By now you’ve probably heard about Costco’s whopping $3-billion (U.S.) special dividend, paid for by a $3.5-billion debt issue. But it turns out that the bulk retailer wasn’t the first company with enough brass to try this trick. A day earlier, Murphy Oil sold $1.5-million of debt to pay its own special dividend. And it wouldn’t be surprising if more are on the way.