Cash flow statements detail the changes in a business's cash and cash equivalents from business operations in one single time period. Dividends paid out to shareholders are included on the cash flow statement under financing activities. If the dividends paid are not included in the cash flow statement, the figure can be calculated using other figures available on the balance sheet and retained earnings statement.
Find declared but unpaid dividends, listed as "dividends payable," on the most recent end-of-period balance sheet. Dividends payable is a current liability and is listed among the earliest items on the balance sheet's "liabilities" section. "Payable" means that the dividend has been declared but has yet to be paid out. For example, if a business declared $200,000 in dividends for 2010 and has yet to send out the payments by year's end, it has $200,000 in declared but unpaid dividends.
Use the retained earnings statement to find the dividends declared in the current time period. Since declared dividends is deducted from net income to produce the change in retained earnings for the period, dividends declared in the current time period should be listed on the retained earnings statement right after net income. If the retained earnings statement is not available, use the corporation's news releases about its dividends to calculate its dividends declared for the current time period. Multiply the declared per share dividend times the total shares for each class of stock to arrive at the total declared dividends. For example, if a corporation declared a $5 dividend on its 20,000 preferred shares and $2 on its 100,000 common shares, the total declared dividends would equal $300,000.
Calculate dividends paid out this period using the current time period's balance sheet. Find the dividends declared but still unpaid at the end of the current time period on the balance sheet and then deduct this from the sum of last period's dividends payable plus dividends declared. For example, if there was $120,000 in dividends payable on last period's end-of-period balance sheet, $100,000 dividends declared this period and $20,000 dividends payable on this period's end-of-period balance sheet, that means the corporation has paid $200,000 in dividends this period.