Dividends and other corporate distributions

Chapter 8
Dividends and other corporate distributions



Foreign-source income. If you are a U.S. citizen with dividend income from sources outside the United States (foreign-source income), you must report that income on your tax return unless it is exempt by U.S. law. This is true whether you reside inside or outside the United States and whether or not you receive a Form 1099 from the foreign payer.

This chapter discusses the tax treatment of:

  • Ordinary dividends,
  • Capital gain distributions,
  • Nondividend distributions, and
  • Other distributions you may receive from a corporation or a mutual fund.

This chapter also explains how to report dividend income on your tax return.

Dividends are distributions of money, stock, or other property paid to you by a corporation or by a mutual fund. You also may receive dividends through a partnership, an estate, a trust, or an association that is taxed as a corporation. However, some amounts you receive that are called dividends are actually interest income. (See Dividends that are actually interest under Taxable Interest in chapter 7.)

Most distributions are paid in cash (or check). However, distributions can consist of more stock, stock rights, other property, or services.

Useful Items

You may want to see:


  •  514 Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals
  •  550 Investment Income and Expenses

Form (and Instructions)

  •  Schedule B (Form 1040A or 1040) Interest and Ordinary Dividends
  •  8960 Net Investment Income Tax—Individuals, Estates, and Trusts

General Information

This section discusses general rules for dividend income.

Tax on unearned income of certain children. Part of a child’s 2014 unearned income may be taxed at the parent’s tax rate. If it is, Form 8615, Tax for Certain Children Who Have Unearned Income, must be completed and attached to the child’s tax return. If not, Form 8615 is not required and the child’s income is taxed at his or her own tax rate.

Some parents can choose to include the child’s interest and dividends on the parent’s return if certain requirements are met. Use Form 8814, Parents’ Election To Report Child’s Interest and Dividends, for this purpose.

For more information about the tax on unearned income of children and the parents’ election, see chapter 32.

Beneficiary of an estate or trust. Dividends and other distributions you receive as a beneficiary of an estate or trust are generally taxable income. You should receive a Schedule K-1 (Form 1041), Beneficiary’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc., from the fiduciary. Your copy of Schedule K-1 (Form 1041) and its instructions will tell you where to report the income on your Form 1040.

Social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). You must give your SSN or ITIN to any person required by federal tax law to make a return, statement, or other document that relates to you. This includes payers of dividends. If you do not give your SSN or ITIN to the payer of dividends, you may have to pay a penalty.

For more information on SSNs and ITINs, see Social Security Number (SSN) in chapter 1.

Backup withholding. Your dividend income is generally not subject to regular withholding. However, it may be subject to backup withholding to ensure that income tax is collected on the income. Under backup withholding, the payer of dividends must withhold, as income tax, on the amount you are paid, applying the appropriate withholding rate.

Backup withholding may also be required if the IRS has determined that you underreported your interest or dividend income. For more information, see Backup Withholding in chapter 4.

Stock certificate in two or more names. If two or more persons hold stock as joint tenants, tenants by the entirety, or tenants in common, each person’s share of any dividends from the stock is determined by local law.

Form 1099-DIV. Most corporations and mutual funds use Form 1099-DIV, Dividends and Distributions, to show you the distributions you received from them during the year. Keep this form with your records. You do not have to attach it to your tax return.

Dividends not reported on Form 1099-DIV. Even if you do not receive Form 1099-DIV, you must still report all your taxable dividend income. For example, you may receive distributive shares of dividends from partnerships or S corporations. These dividends are reported to you on Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), Partner’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc., and Schedule K-1 (Form 1120S), Shareholder’s Share of Income, Deductions, Credits, etc.

Reporting tax withheld. If tax is withheld from your dividend income, the payer must give you a Form 1099-DIV that indicates the amount withheld.

Nominees. If someone receives distributions as a nominee for you, that person should give you a Form 1099-DIV, which will show distributions received on your behalf.

Form 1099-MISC. Certain substitute payments in lieu of dividends or tax-exempt interest received by a broker on your behalf must be reported to you on Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, or a similar statement. See Reporting Substitute Payments under Short Sales in chapter 4 of Publication 550 for more information about reporting these payments.

Incorrect amount shown on a Form 1099. If you receive a Form 1099 that shows an incorrect amount (or other incorrect information), you should ask the issuer for a corrected form. The new Form 1099 you receive will be marked “Corrected.”

Dividends on stock sold. If stock is sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of after a dividend is declared but before it is paid, the owner of record (usually the payee shown on the dividend check) must include the dividend in income.