Question about recording DRIP buys for tax purposes

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asked Jun 20, 2016 11:45 AM by
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I'm trying to resolve a discrepancy I've encountered when trying to keep track of my capital gains.

Before I became a Moneygeek convert, I followed one of the all-ETF Couch Potato Portfolios endorsed by Dan Bortolotti. My holdings consisted almost entirely of XIC, XSP, XIN, and XBB. I was also enrolled in DRIPs for those securities. I'm now in the process of switching from the CP Portfolio to a combination of the MG Regular and Premium Portfolios, and naturally, this involves selling my CP ETFs.

To this point, I've been recording DRIP buys in my CP ETFs by reviewing my monthly brokerage statements, looking for activities called "Dividend Reinvestment Plan," and then inputting those transactions into the MG Capital Gains Worksheet. When I add up my XIC shares according to the Worksheet and compare it to the XIC share-total provided by my brokerage summary, I get a perfect match. So far so good. By contrast, however, my share counts for XSP, XIN and XBB respectively are all lower according to the Worksheet when compared to the share-totals provided by my brokerage summary. The shortages are in the hundreds of shares. I've checked and re-checked my share counts, and I always end up with the same discrepancies.

It occurs to me now that on my monthly statements, there are activities called "Distributions" which might be adding to the quantities of my shares. I've previously ignored these "Distributions" when filling out the Capital Gains Worksheet because I thought that they were cash distributions which are already accounted for by the tax slips provided by the brokerage. Am I wrong? Are they something else? Should I be recording "Distributions" on the Worksheet? If yes, how would I record them? Whereas DRIP buys always show the "Quantity" (i.e., number of shares) and the "Price", these "Distributions" show only a number for "Quantity" and no "Price."

Sorry for the nitty-grittiness of this question. I tried contacting my brokerage, TD, to ask about this, but the person I dealt with suggested that I speak directly with the ETF sponsor corporation. Thought I'd try this forum before doing that.


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P.S. When inputting trades on the Worksheet, I've been culling from my monthly statements not only DRIPs but also trades where I bought and sold shares myself. My assumption: the sum of (a) shares bought through DRIPs, and (b) shares I bought, minus (c) shares I sold, would equal my share-total.

Burt_Macklin ( Jun 20, 2016 02:52 PM )edit

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answered Jun 20, 2016 03:18 PM by
Jin Won Choi gravatar image Administrator

Hi Burt, I wish I can give you a simple answer, but I can't because the tax treatment depends on the situation.

There are two ways that you can opt to receive shares in lieu of cash dividends - the Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP), and the Stock Dividend Plan (SDP).

With a DRIP, you technically receive cash, and then you automatically use that cash to buy more shares. Because you receive cash, you must pay the usual dividend tax.

With an SDP, you technically receive shares, which makes it no different than a stock split. As with normal stock splits, you don't have to pay any taxes when you receive shares through the SDP, but it does lower your per share cost basis.

You will therefore want to make sure which type of plan your distributions fall under. This means you'll have to contact the ETF provider. I hope that helps.


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Asked: Jun 20, 2016 11:45 AM

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Last updated: Jun 20 '16

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