Before cash dividend payments can be made, three prerequisites must be met:
- the board of directors declares them,
- a sufficient cash balance is on hand, and
- a sufficient unappropriated retained earnings balance exists.
The following three dates are associated with any declaration: 1) declaration date, 2) date of record, and 3) date of payment. The declaration date is when the board of directors decides to make cash dividend payments. The date of record is when a list is compiled of owners of shares. The date of payment is when checks are mailed out to all shareholders.