Cuts in the tax on dividends coupledwith a brighter profit pictureare leading to a record dividend payoutthis year. Companies in the S&P500 will make shareholders richer by$183 billion in dividend payments bythe end of the year, up from therecord $161 billion paid last year. Theaverage dividend yield on S&P 500companies is now 1.7% a year, upfrom the record low of 1.1% set in2000. In addition to bigger dividendpayouts from companies like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola, several firms willbe paying a dividend for the first timethis year, including the office-supplygiant Staples and the discount grocerCostco. Overall, three quarters of thecompanies in the S&P 500 now paydividends, the most since 1999.