Real estate investment trusts (REITs) can be some of the largest dividend-payers, due largely to the preferential tax treatment they receive. A REIT does not have to pay Federal income tax if at least 90% of their taxable net income is paid to shareholders as dividends. REITs provide individual investors an opportunity to participate in the returns of large-scale, income-producing real estate investments. Although residential real estate has a strong history of performance relative to inflation, many REITs are sensitive to economic factors due to their focus on industry sectors such as retail shopping malls, health care facilities, commercial office rental space, etc.
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