How Do I Avoid Paying Taxes on Dividends? (2024)

Dividends are payments that some companies make to shareholders to reward them for investing in them. Dividends can provide regular, predictable income to investors who also preserve the chance of profiting from price appreciation. Dividends can qualify for advantageous capital gains tax treatment if stocks are owned long enough. Avoiding all income taxes on dividends is more complicated, though. Options include owning dividend-paying stocks in a tax-advantaged retirement account or 529 plan. You can also avoid paying capital gains tax altogether on certain dividend-paying stocks if your income is low enough. A financial advisor can help you employ dividend investing in your portfolio.

Dividend Basics

Dividends are payments investors get from owning shares of some companies. Companies that are profitable may distribute some of their profits as cash payments or stock dividends as a way to reward shareholders for investing in the business. Dividend-paying stocks are popular alternatives to bonds for investors who want to generate passive income. Retirees often invest in dividends so they can pay their living expenses without having to sell stocks.

Like all income, dividends are subject to taxes. The tax rates depend on whether dividends are considered qualified or non-qualified. Ordinary or non-qualified dividends are paid by stocks that are owned for less than the required holding period. These dividends are taxed at an investor’s ordinary income tax rate. Qualified dividends, which are paid by stocks that are owned for at least the required holding period, are taxed as capital gains.

Capital gains rates are generally lower than ordinary income rates and fall into the rate bracket of 0%, 15% or 20%. Rates are based on the taxpayer’s income and most taxpayers are in the 15% capital gains bracket. As an example, an investor who earned $10,000 from qualified dividends typically would owe capital gains taxes of $1,500, reducing their after-tax gain to $8,500.

How to Avoid Taxes on Dividends

There are a few strategies for avoiding taxes on your dividends, depending on whether they’re qualified or ordinary dividends:

  • Roth retirement accounts: A Roth IRA is funded with after-tax money. Once a person reaches age59 ½, money can be withdrawn tax-free. So any dividends paid out by stocks owned in a Roth account would be free of taxes, as long as the dividends were withdrawn after age 59 ½ and at least five years after the account was opened.
  • Qualifying for zero capital gains tax: Capital gains taxes are graduated, with higher-income investors paying higher rates. Investors in the lowest income bracket owe zero capital gains taxes. Brackets change annually. For example, a married couple filing jointly with taxable income of $89,250 or less for the 2023 tax year would pay no capital gains tax on dividends. Strategies such as contributions to retirement accounts and health savings accounts (HSAs) may reduce your income below the zero-capital gains tax threshold. As a result, you wouldn’t owe any taxes on qualified dividends.
  • Education plans: Tax-advantaged 529 plans allow tax-free growth and withdrawals as long as the money is used to pay qualifying education expenses. So placing funds into a 529 plan and using the money to buy dividend-paying stocks will allow you to accumulate funds tax-free and also withdraw the money without owing taxes. However, this only works if the withdrawal amounts go for qualified education expenses such as tuition and books.
  • Other retirement accounts:Other retirement accounts, like traditional IRAsand 401(k)s can offer partial relief from income taxes. These accounts are funded with pre-tax money. An investor can deduct money contributed to a traditional account from their current taxable income. But unlike Roth accounts, withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. Holding dividend-paying stocks in a traditional IRA or 401(k) won’t eliminate your tax liability, but it could reduce it.

Bottom Line

Investing in dividend-paying stocks can generate income while also preserving the potential for capital appreciation. Dividend income may be taxed at capital gains rates that are lower than tax rates on ordinary income as long as the shares are held for at least a year. You may be able to avoid all income taxes on dividends if your income is low enough to qualify for zero capital gains if you invest in a Roth retirement account or buy dividend stocks in a tax-advantaged education account.

Investing Tips

  • Consider checking with a financial advisor for suggestions about tax-efficient ways to generate income through dividend investing. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • To plan well for your financial future, you need to have some idea of how much your investments will be worth in the future. SmartAsset’s can help you estimate how much your portfolio could be worth. Provide the amount of money you’re starting with, the additional contributions you plan to make, your expected rate of return and how long you want to let the money grow. The calculator will then give you the future estimated value of your portfolio.

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How Do I Avoid Paying Taxes on Dividends? (2024)


How Do I Avoid Paying Taxes on Dividends? ›

Options include owning dividend-paying stocks in a tax-advantaged retirement account or 529 plan. You can also avoid paying capital gains tax altogether on certain dividend-paying stocks if your income is low enough. A financial advisor can help you employ dividend investing in your portfolio.

How do you avoid paying tax on dividends? ›

You may be able to avoid all income taxes on dividends if your income is low enough to qualify for zero capital gains if you invest in a Roth retirement account or buy dividend stocks in a tax-advantaged education account.

How do I get tax-free dividends? ›

Nontaxable dividends are dividends from a mutual fund or some other regulated investment company that are not subject to taxes. These funds are often not taxed because they invest in municipal or other tax-exempt securities.

How do I avoid paying taxes on reinvested dividends? ›

Reinvested dividends may be treated in different ways, however. Qualified dividends get taxed as capital gains, while non-qualified dividends get taxed as ordinary income. You can avoid paying taxes on reinvested dividends in the year you earn them by holding dividend stocks in a tax-deferred retirement plan.

How do I avoid US dividend withholding tax? ›

Under the Treaty, there is a special exemption from U.S. withholding tax on interest and dividend income that you earn from U.S. investments through a trust set up exclusively for the purpose of providing retirement income. These trusts include RRSPs, RRIFs, LIRAs, LIFs, LRIFs and Prescribed RRIFs.

How much dividend income is tax free? ›

Qualified Dividend Taxes
Dividend Tax Rate, 2022
Filing Status0% Tax Rate20% Tax Rate
Single$0 to $41,675$459,751 or more
Married Filing Jointly$0 to $83,350$517,201 or more
Married Filing Separately$0 to $41,675$258,601 or more
1 more row

Do I have to pay taxes on dividends? ›

Dividends can be classified either as ordinary or qualified. Whereas ordinary dividends are taxable as ordinary income, qualified dividends that meet certain requirements are taxed at lower capital gain rates.

Are reinvested dividends taxed twice? ›

Dividends are taxable regardless of whether you take them in cash or reinvest them in the mutual fund that pays them out. You incur the tax liability in the year in which the dividends are reinvested.

Do dividends count as income? ›

Key Takeaways. All dividends paid to shareholders must be included on their gross income, but qualified dividends will get more favorable tax treatment. A qualified dividend is taxed at the capital gains tax rate, while ordinary dividends are taxed at standard federal income tax rates.

Which types of dividends are generally tax-exempt? ›

What Is an Exempt-Interest Dividend? An exempt-interest dividend is a distribution from a mutual fund that is not subject to federal income tax. Exempt-interest dividends most often are derived from mutual funds that invest in municipal bonds.

Are dividends taxable if you automatically reinvest? ›

Tax Treatment of Reinvested Dividends. Dividends are a form of income, and as such, they must be reported in your income tax return. They are taxable the same way all earned income is taxable even if they are reinvested in stock and the money does not reach the taxpayer directly.

Why you should not reinvest dividends? ›

By reinvesting your dividends, you miss out on cash you could spend, save, or invest elsewhere. You might still owe taxes. Dividends are taxed whether you take a cash payout or reinvest them. However, with no cash payout, you have to pay the tax bill out of pocket.

What taxes do I pay on dividends? ›

Qualified dividends must meet special requirements issued by the IRS. The maximum tax rate for qualified dividends is 20%, with a few exceptions for real estate, art, or small business stock. Ordinary dividends are taxed at income tax rates, which as of the 2023 tax year, maxes out at 37%.

Can individuals exclude dividends from taxation? ›

Key Takeaways

U.S. corporations are allowed to exclude a portion of the dividends they receive from other corporations in order to avoid double taxation. The federal dividends-received deduction applies only to corporations and not to individuals who receive dividend income.

Who pays withholding tax on dividends? ›

While the U.S. government taxes dividends paid by American companies, it doesn't impose tax withholdings for U.S. residents. In other words, each U.S. investor receives the full dividend amount and is responsible for reporting their annual dividends to the IRS each year and paying taxes accordingly.

How do I claim back dividend withholding tax? ›

You will need to approach your broker – or possibly their custodian or the original dividend paying agent – for some paperwork to confirm what rate of tax was withheld. You will then declare the income and the tax deducted on the foreign page of the tax return and claim the witholding tax as foreign tax credit relief.

Can you defer taxes on dividends? ›

Tax-deferred status refers to investment earnings, such as interest, dividends, or capital gains, that accumulate tax-free until the investor takes constructive receipt of the profits. The tax savings can be substantial when investments are held until retirement.

Do you pay taxes on dividends if you are a higher rate taxpayer? ›

Working out tax on dividends
Tax bandTax rate on dividends over the allowance
Basic rate8.75%
Higher rate33.75%
Additional rate39.35%

How do I pay 0 capital gains tax? ›

A capital gains rate of 0% applies if your taxable income is less than or equal to:
  1. $44,625 for single and married filing separately;
  2. $89,250 for married filing jointly and qualifying surviving spouse; and.
  3. $59,750 for head of household.
Jan 30, 2024

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