Answers to frequently asked questions
Q: When did Suburban go public?
A: Suburban Propane Partners, L.P. made its initial public offering (IPO) of 21.6 million Common Units on March 5, 1996. Suburban is now a Master Limited Partnership (MLP) traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SPH. An investment in a partnership unit represents an interest in the Partnership (or a proportionate share of Suburban's assets).
Q: Who is Suburban's Transfer Agent?
A: Suburban Propane's Transfer Agent is Computershare Trust Company, N.A. You can speak with a Unitholder Services representative at 781-575-2724. Written inquiries should be addressed to: Computershare Trust Company, N.A., PO Box 43069, Providence, RI 02940-3069. Computershare's website address is: www.computershare.com
Q: What is the amount of distribution on each Common Unit?
A: The current quarterly distribution rate is $0.8525 per Common Unit, or $3.41 per Common Unit on an annualized basis.
Q: How often are distributions paid?
A: Distributions are paid approximately 45 days after each quarter end.
Q: What is the difference between a distribution and a dividend?
A: As a unitholder in Suburban, you are a cash partner and your cash distribution is a return of your investment (or capital). Unlike a stock dividend, a partnership distribution is not reported on your income tax return. Instead, you are taxed on your allocable share of partnership taxable income which will be provided to you on Schedule K-1.
You receive a decrease in unit basis for each cash distribution and an increase in basis for your proportionate share of partnership taxable income (or, as the case may be, a decrease in basis for your proportionate share of partnership tax loss). This is unlike a stock dividend which is generally taxable to the stockholder and does not affect the stockholder's basis in the stock.
Q: How and by how much and how long are the distributions tax deferred?
A: Tax deferral on a distribution means that the per unit dollar amount of cash distribution a unitholder receives is greater than the per unit dollar amount of partnership taxable income allocable to the unitholder during the year. The partners pay tax only on the net income allocated to them, thus yielding a smaller amount of tax than if tax were calculated on the cash distribution. This difference is the deferral and should be approximately 80 percent of the distribution for the first five years during which an investor holds our units.
Much of the tax deferral (or shield) is created through the allocation of depreciation deductions to the unitholder. For a more detailed discussion of this tax deferral (or shield), please refer to the February 29, 1996, Prospectus of Suburban Propane Partners, L. P. Because most of Suburban's assets have a five-year tax life, the shield on each investment will last approximately five years from the date of purchase. For example, if you purchased units in 2009, your tax shield will last through approximately 2014.
The deferred portion of the taxes will be realized through gain recognition when the units are sold. Because depreciation deductions are subject to recapture rules, all or much of the gain will be taxed as ordinary income.
Q: How are Common Units taxed when sold by the investor?
A: When investors sell units for more than their adjusted basis, they must recognize gain on their tax returns. At the time of sale, the investor's basis in his or her units will in almost every case be different from the original basis (original cost plus broker's fees). Each year, his or her basis will be adjusted for partnership income (loss) and distributions which have occurred during the year. Basis is increased by the partner's allocable share of partnership income (or decreased by the partner's allocable share of partnership loss) and decreased by any distributions received by the partner. Because of the five-year tax shield, decreases to basis will be greater than increases to basis. And, because much of the tax-shield differential was created through depreciation, much or all of the gain will be recognized as ordinary income in accordance with current IRS depreciation recapture requirements.
Q: How will the Partnership supply you with tax reporting information?
A: BECAUSE SUBURBAN IS A PARTNERSHIP RATHER THAN A CORPORATION, SUBURBAN DOES NOT ISSUE FORM 1099'S TO ITS INVESTORS. Suburban provides its investors with a K-1. This K-1 is accompanied with detailed, user-friendly instructions to assist the investor who prepares his or her own tax return.
Suburban has mailed the K-1 to investors by March 1 during the previous 13 years and mailed its 2008 K-1's by March 1, 2009.
Additionally, 2009 K-1's will be available through our website on or about February 19, 2010. To access K-1's, go to the "Corporate" tab, then "Investor Info" and "Investor K-1's."
Q: What percentage of the distribution is considered Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI)?
A: A partner's UBTI is determined from his or her allocable share of partnership taxable income (not the distribution). The majority of Suburban's income is considered UBTI. UBTI is calculated for each unitholder on his or her Substitute K-1.
Pension, profit sharing and IRA accounts are subject to the $1,000 annual UBTI limitation amount for each account. Anyone considering the purchase of partnership units for a not-for-profit organization or for pension, profit sharing, or IRA accounts should consult his or her tax advisor.
Q: Can I purchase units directly from Suburban?
A: No. Suburban Propane does not have a direct purchase plan. You may purchase units through your banker, broker, or other financial institution.
Q: Does Suburban have a Distribution Reinvestment Plan (DRIP)?
A: No. Suburban does not have a Distribution Reinvestment Plan (DRIP).
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