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Gates' dividend payout: $100 million

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, CEO Steve Ballmer and other executives will rake in big gains from the company's newly instated stock dividend program.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will rake in almost $100 million per year in potentially tax-free income from the company's newly instated stock dividend program.

Microsoft announced Thursday that it plans to issue its first-ever annual dividend to shareholders on March 7. The payout will be 16 cents for each share on record as of Feb. 21.

Based on Microsoft's latest proxy statement, filed Sept. 19, 2002, with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Gates has about 621 million shares, or 11.6 percent of the company. That would give him a dividend bonanza of $99.48 million.

CEO Steve Ballmer, with some 235 million shares, would get $37.68 million per year.

President Bush recently revealed details of an economic stimulus plan that includes a proposal to eliminate personal taxes on stock dividends. If passed by Congress, the provision would save Gates some $38.4 million in taxes, based on the current top income tax rate of 38.6 percent. Ballmer would save $14.54 million.

The total payout will be $870.6 million, a fraction of Microsoft's $40.5 billion cash reserves.