Companies are racing the clock to hand out billions in special dividends before year end—and some of them are taking on debt to do it.

The latest is Costco [COST 102.43 5.92 (+6.13%) ], which announced a $7-a-share payout to stockholders Wednesday and is issuing bonds to pay for the $3 billion dividend. (Read More: Costco to Pay Special Dividend)

Fearing a tripling of dividend tax rates next year, companies have found one-time payouts and early payments of quarterly dividends as a way to beat some of the impact of the “Fiscal Cliff.”

Taking advantage of super-low interest rates, companies have been issuing debt at a record rate this month. Some say they plan to use the proceeds to fund dividends and share repurchases.

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