A dividend paid by a corporation is a distribution of profits to the owners of the corporation. The owners of a corporation are known as stockholders or shareholders. (In a sole proprietorship, the distribution of profits to the owner is referred to as a draw.)

A corporation's board of directors, which is elected by the stockholders, decides if a cash dividend is needed. The considerations for paying or not paying a dividend include the stockholders' wishes, the stock market's reaction, and the corporation's needs and opportunities for cash in the present and in the future.