Almost half of UK companies have already scrapped £23.8bn in dividend payouts, while a further £23.9bn are at risk, according to the latest Dividend Monitor from Link Group.
The best case scenario for 2020 sees dividends fall by 27%, while the worst case sees a cut of 51%, demonstrating once again the weight of the pandemic's impact on markets.
As records continue to tumble, dividends could well be on track, already recording the second consecutive quarterly decline, an event last seen in the Global Financial Crisis, as underlying dividends dropped by 0.7% to £17.4bn.
Headline dividends fell sharper than predicted, dropping 11% to £17.5bn including the "unusually low" figure for special dividends, just £145m.
Mid-cap firms took the greatest hit in Q1, with dividends dropping by 5.9%, while top 100 companies only slumped by 0.1%, although when special dividends are factored in, the declines level out.
An earning recession was already underway before the coronavirus crisis hit, with UK plc tracking its third consecutive quarter of falling profits, down 5.7% on the full-year figure.
More than half of Q1 dividends by value were declared in dollars or euros, and with a weakened pound, underlying dividends for the quarter fell by 1.6% on a constant-currency basis, while headline dividends dropped 11.9%.
Banks are the hardest hit sector so far, a full 100% down as the industry halted dividends, but on the other end of the scale, food, drink and tobacco and healthcare recorded single-digit increases, while oil dividends were flat year-on-year.
Some dividends faced issues isolated from the pandemic, with Berkeley Homes rescinding a one-off special of £500m and Persimmon cancelling its own £400m payout, while one of last year's top payers Vodafone, De la Rue, Stobart and Marks & Spencer also announced cuts for unrelated reasons.