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Goldman accelerated share awards ahead of U.S. tax hike: source

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen over their kiosk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 26, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A Goldman Sachs sign is seen over their kiosk on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, April 26, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc gave an annual payment of deferred stock to Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and other executives at the end of December, weeks earlier than usual, because tax rates were expected to rise in 2013, a person familiar with the matter said.

The investment bank disclosed about $65 million of stock awards to 10 executives in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late on Monday. Some other employees who were not required to disclose the awards also received them early, the person familiar with the matter said.

About 24 hours after the grants, the U.S. Congress agreed to raise the top tax rate for individuals with more than $400,000 in taxable income to 39.6 percent in 2013 from 35 percent last year, and to raise capital gains taxes.

Goldman typically gives shares to executives that were deferred from earlier performance years in January.

The executives who received the shares also included Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn, Vice Chairmen Michael Evans and John Weinberg, Global Head of Human Capital Management Edith Cooper, Chief of Staff John Rogers, General Counsel Greg Palm, Global Head of Compliance Alan Cohen, Chief Accounting Officer Sarah Smith and Chief Financial Officer David Viniar, according to the filings.

Each of the 10 left 45 percent to 50 percent of the shares with Goldman to cover their tax payments. The remaining shares that they retained had a value of about $33.1 million, based on the company's closing share price on Monday. Goldman's shares soared 41 percent in 2012, reversing two straight years of declines.

(Reporting By Jed Horowitz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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