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The usual requirement is that if a company suspends dividends on the preferred, it cannot pay any dividends on the common until it brings the dividends on the preferred up to date.

However, preferreds come "cumulative" and "non-cumulative". In a cumulative preferred, if they miss a dividend they are under obligation to catch up before paying any dividends on the preferred. It is my observation, although perhaps not a requirement, that cumulative preferreds have a final maturity date, which may be far in the future (2050?) and the dividends are not qualified for tax purposes.

The non-cumulative preferreds I've seen do not have a final maturity date and the dividends are qualified for tax purposes. I am not certain whether the company is obligated to catch up any missed dividends on the preferred before paying any dividends on the common, and I do not have an example where this happened.

Best wishes, Chris
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