We introduce a four-parameter distribution, called the Zografos-Balakrishnan Burr XII distribution. Our purpose is to provide a Burr XII generalization that may be useful to still more complex situations. The new distribution may be an interesting alternative to describe income distributions and can also be applied in actuarial science, finance, bioscience, telecommunications and modelling lifetime data, for example. It contains as special models some well-known distributions, such as the log-logistic, Weibull, Lomax and Burr XII distributions, among others. Some of its structural properties are investigated. The method of maximum likelihood is used for estimating the model parameters and a simulation study is conducted. We provide two application to real data to demonstrate the usefulness of the proposed distribution. Since the Risti´c-Balakrishnan Burr XII distribution has a similar structure to the studied distribution, we also present some of its properties and expansions.