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National Fuel Gas Co. isn’t waiting to see if the looming “fiscal cliff” leads to a higher tax rate on dividends.

The Amherst-based energy company said Thursday it will join a growing list of companies that are speeding up their fourth-quarter dividend payments, pushing it into this year to ensure that it will qualify for the current 15 percent tax rate on dividends and capital gains.

“Moving our dividend payment up to the end of 2012 is in the best interest of our shareholders due to the complex fiscal and federal tax rate issues that may not be resolved in the next few weeks,” said David Smith, National Fuel’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.

National Fuel said it will pay its 36.5-cent-per-share dividend on Dec. 28, rather than at its typical time in mid-January, when the payment could be subject to a higher tax rate on dividends that could take effect in 2013.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com