He said many BKD clients are making decisions now to push income into 2010 with the fear taxes will be higher in 2011. Clients are also moving planned 2011 dividend payments into 2010, and considering selling assets with appreciated value this year.
Turner said small businesses could be forced to lay off workers because of higher taxes, and investors will be less inclined to invest in dividend-paying companies as the result of a tax rate increase on qualified dividends.
If the tax cuts expire, qualified dividends will no longer be subject to a maximum rate of 15 percent. Instead, they will be taxed at the same rate as ordinary income, which could be as high as 39.6 percent, Turner said.
Beginning in 2013, the top rate increases to 43.4 percent because of health care reform measures that impose an additional 3.8 percent Medicare tax on investment income for taxpayers with a gross income of more than $200,000, or $250,000 for joint filers.