Maximizing dividends: 3 of the best ASX shares for income investors right now?

I think these three ASX 200 dividend shares deserve a place in most every passive income portfolio.

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Australian income investors are a bit spoiled in that we have a large number of quality ASX dividend shares to choose from.

And, unlike most international markets such as the United States, a lot of ASX companies pay franked dividends. Meaning we should be able to hold onto more of that passive income when it comes time to pay the ATO their dues.

While some smaller companies offer juicy yields, I believe those should only make up a smaller part of a diversified, long-term passive income portfolio.

To form the basis of that portfolio, I prefer fishing from the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) pool of income stocks.

These stocks tend to be less volatile than their smaller competitors. And the three ASX dividend shares we'll look at below have lengthy track records of making reliable payouts.

You'll notice they each operate in very different sectors. That should lower the risk of our passive income taking a big hit if any one sector comes under temporary pressure.

Now, before we dive into those three income stocks, a quick reminder. The yields you generally see quoted are trailing yields based on the past 12 months of payouts. Future yields may be higher or lower based on various company-specific and macroeconomic factors.

With that said…

Three ASX dividend shares to buy now

The first ASX dividend share I'd buy to form the foundation of a passive income portfolio is BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP).

BHP's dividends have come down over the past 18 months alongside a retrace in iron ore prices. But the ASX 200 mining giant is expanding its copper operations and also has sizeable coal and uranium assets, among others.

BHP paid a final dividend of $1.251 a share on 28 September. The ASX 200 miner paid out the interim dividend of $1.096 per share on 28 March.

That equates to a full-year payout of $2.347 a share. (BHP declares its dividends in US currency, hence the fractional cents.)

At the recent BHP share price of $43.03, the stock trades on a fully franked trailing yield of 5.45%.

As the largest company listed on the ASX with a strong outlook, I believe this is one stock to buy now for long-term passive income.

Sticking with the large and reliable income payers, the second ASX dividend share I'd buy now is Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA).

CBA paid a final dividend of $2.40 a share on 28 September and an interim dividend of $2.15 a share on 28 March. That works out to a full-year passive income payout of $4.55.

At the recent CBA share price of $114.54, the big four bank stock trades on a fully franked trailing yield of 4%.

Now, some analysts are forecasting bank shares may come under selling pressure over the coming months.

That may or may not eventuate. But in the long term, I think Australia's largest bank forms a strong foundation in our income portfolio.

Which brings us to the third ASX dividend share I'd buy now to form the foundation of a long-term passive income portfolio, Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW).

The ASX 200 supermarket giant has been trading at what I believe is a discount since shares took a nosedive on 21 February. That was spurred by the unexpected departure of long-term CEO Brad Banducci.

Longer-term, Woolworths looks well-placed to continue capitalising on Australia's growing population and increasing consumer wealth.

As for that passive income, over the past 12 months, this ASX dividend gem paid a final dividend of 58 cents a share on 27 September and an interim dividend of 47 cents a share on 11 April. This comes out to a full-year payout of $1.05 a share.

At the recent Woolworths share price of $31.90, Woolies shares trade on a fully franked trailing yield of 3.3%.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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