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7 Issues with Dividend Investing

As a monetary planner, I’ve been in lots of conferences with potential households who’ve totally different ranges of funding schooling. I usually discover individuals assume dividend investing is magic and should be the end-all, be-all of investing. 

Sadly, lots of the intently held beliefs individuals have about dividend investing are mistaken. The web is buzzing with articles about how you can discover dividend paying shares, which might create a need to dwell off dividends as a substitute of promoting components of your portfolio.

Earlier than I get into the problems with dividend investing, what do I imply once I say dividend investing?

Dividend investing is investing in firms that pay money distributions. It’s a return of income to individuals who maintain the inventory.

Now, let me dispel a number of the myths of dividend investing and 7 issues with dividend investing.


Drawback 1: Dividends Enhance Your Taxes

The primary downside with dividend investing is that it will increase your taxes in a brokerage account. 

The taxes are normally not a difficulty in a tax-advantaged account, corresponding to an IRA, Roth IRA, or 401(ok), however in a brokerage account, dividends can improve your taxes. 

When a dividend is paid, you’re taxed on it, whether or not you reinvest the dividend or take it as money. It doesn’t matter whether or not you allow it within the brokerage account or take it out. Will probably be taxed.

How it’s taxed is determined by whether or not it’s certified or nonqualified. 

Certified dividends are taxed at preferential capital beneficial properties tax charges. Nonqualified dividends are taxed at atypical revenue tax charges. 

Capital beneficial properties tax charges are 0%, 15%, or 20%, relying in your different revenue and which bracket you fall into. Abnormal revenue tax charges vary between 0% and 37%. 

To ensure that a dividend to be certified, it should:

  • Be issued by publicly traded US firms
  • An investor should personal the inventory for greater than 60 days out of a 121-day interval starting 60 days earlier than the ex-dividend date


The final bullet is difficult, however a normal means to consider it’s if in case you have held the inventory for a couple of months, the dividend will probably be certified. 

Sure funds normally don’t pay certified dividends, corresponding to REITs, MLPs, and bond funds. They usually pay nonqualified dividends which can be taxed at atypical revenue charges. 

Now that you recognize extra about how dividends are taxed, let’s have a look at an instance. 

Let’s say you’re within the 15% capital beneficial properties bracket and earn $10,000 price of certified dividends in a brokerage account. 

Whether or not you reinvest the $10,000 price of dividends again into the inventory, take the $10,000 as money and depart it within the account, or distribute the $10,000 to your checking account, you’ll be taxed on the dividends. 

Your tax invoice for these dividends shall be roughly $1,500. 

Now, you could be considering, “Who cares? I don’t thoughts paying taxes. A minimum of I get dividends.” 

I’ll deal with that within the subsequent two sections. 

Drawback 2: Dividends Are Pressured Taxation

Would you moderately pay 15% in taxes on the expansion in your portfolio within the yr that you simply earn it or whenever you select to pay it?

I do know my reply.

I need to select when to pay it! 

Dividends are pressured taxation. 

In case you have the next revenue yr and need to cut back your tax legal responsibility, you may’t. You may’t management whenever you obtain the dividends, which suggests you may’t management when you find yourself taxed on the dividends.

Who needs to be pressured to pay taxes? One of many greatest ache factors for individuals in retirement is taxes. Most individuals need to know how you can cut back their taxes and ensure they’re doing every part potential to pay what they’re legally obligated, however not tip the IRS. 

Dividend traders are higher tippers to the IRS. 

With cautious planning, you may higher management your tax scenario. If you happen to can cut back your revenue, that will enable alternatives for Roth conversions to scale back taxes over your lifetime. I’m not a fan of dividend investing as a result of it’s pressured taxation that doesn’t enable you as a lot flexibility with the way you management your revenue. 

I’d a lot moderately management when I’m taxed. What do you favor? 

Now, you should still be considering, “Okay, I’m taxed on what I’m incomes. That’s okay. It’s free cash. So long as I hold incomes it, I can assist my way of life.” 

Let’s speak about that fable. 

Drawback 3: Dividends Are Not Free Cash – Yield vs. Return

Dividends will not be free cash. They don’t magically come out of skinny air. Because the previous adage goes, “There isn’t a such factor as a free lunch.” 

Let’s have a look at a easy instance. 

If Firm A is price $100, has no debt, and pays a $5 dividend, how a lot will it’s price after it pays the dividend?

The reply is $95. 

After the corporate pays $5, it has $5 much less on its steadiness sheet. It will probably’t pay the $5 dividend and nonetheless be price $100. 

If it might, that will be like me supplying you with $5 out of the $100 in my pockets and nonetheless considering I’ve $100 in my pockets. 

The explanation individuals get confused about dividends not being free cash is that inventory costs transfer consistently whereas the inventory market is open. It’s more durable to see on the day that an organization pays a dividend that it’s declining in value by the identical worth as a result of different forces are at play. 

If actually constructive information comes out on the day the corporate pays a dividend, it might go up by the same quantity. For instance, if Firm A publicizes they’ve a brand new partnership within the works that shall be constructive for the corporate, they could go up in worth by $5 on the identical day they pay a $5 dividend. 

If you happen to simply seemed on the inventory on that day, you may assume that you’ve the identical firm price $100, however you additionally obtained $5 as a dividend. It truly seems to be just like the dividend was magically paid. 


However, that’s not what occurred. If the dividend hadn’t been paid, the inventory probably would have been price $105 ($100 + $5 improve in value). 

In both case, you’ve gotten $105. 

If the corporate pays a dividend, you’ve gotten the $5 dividend plus the $100 in a share of Firm A. If the corporate doesn’t pay a dividend, you’ve gotten the $105 in a share of Firm A. 

This brings me to my subsequent level – dividend yields don’t equal return. 

Individuals usually confuse dividend yields and return or value appreciation. 

Bear in mind how I mentioned you may higher management how you’re taxed should you don’t give attention to dividends? 

You may higher management how you’re taxed by specializing in value appreciation. 

Worth appreciation is the important thing right here. 

When a inventory goes up in a brokerage account, you’re not taxed on it. If a inventory goes up $10,000 in a brokerage account, you aren’t taxed on the $10,000 till you promote. 

I do know that appears fundamental, however let’s break it down additional. 

Individuals ought to care most about their whole return, that are the dividends plus value appreciation. 

Complete return = Dividend + Worth Appreciation

For instance, if Firm A pays a 4% dividend and appreciates 6%, they’ve a ten% whole return. 

To make the numbers extra concrete, let’s say Firm A is price $100 once more. Firm A paid you $4 in dividends and appreciated $6 within the first yr. 

How a lot is taxed? 

As you discovered earlier, $4 shall be taxed at capital beneficial properties charges, assuming it’s a certified dividend. In case you are within the 15% capital beneficial properties bracket, you’ll pay $0.60 in taxes. 

The $6 you earned from value appreciation gained’t be taxed. 

It doesn’t sound dangerous with smaller numbers, however let’s do that on a portfolio stage now. Let’s assume you’ve gotten $1,000,000 in a brokerage account and earn 4% in dividends and 6% in value appreciation. 

Now, you’ve gotten $40,000 in dividends, resulting in a tax invoice of $6,000. The opposite $60,000 earned by way of value appreciation shouldn’t be taxed. 

It feels worse now, proper? 

What if, as a substitute of incomes dividends, you earned 10% by way of value appreciation? 

Then, you don’t obtain any dividends and get to decide on whenever you acknowledge the $100,000 achieve. 

In case you are making an attempt to create decrease ranges of revenue, maybe you solely promote $40,000 and acknowledge $4,000 in capital beneficial properties. 

In that scenario, $4,000 in capital beneficial properties shall be taxed at 15%, that means you owe $600 in taxes. 

As an alternative of paying $6,000 in pressured taxes by way of dividends, you narrow your portfolio tax invoice to $600 in taxes by way of specializing in value appreciation.

Taxes - Dividends vs. Price Appreciation

I’d a lot moderately obtain nearly all of my return within the type of value appreciation – not dividends. 

Dividends don’t magically improve your return or make your revenue safer. They aren’t free cash, however they’re pressured taxation. 

A greater option to make investments is to give attention to whole return. Worth appreciation permits extra flexibility in the way you acknowledge revenue and can be utilized to plan your revenue year-to-year for tax planning functions. 

Drawback 4: Dividend Shares Are Not a Bond Substitute 

Irrespective of what number of occasions you learn it on-line, it doesn’t make it any extra true. Dividend shares will not be a bond substitute. 

Bonds are sometimes used for revenue and to scale back the ups and downs of the portfolio. They don’t seem to be meant to be drivers of progress. 

To place it in perspective, let’s have a look at how one dividend ETF, the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (ticker: VIG), carried out in comparison with an mixture bond ETF, iShares Core U.S. Mixture Bond ETF (ticker: AGG), throughout market turmoil. This isn’t a advice for both ETF. I’m utilizing them to point out that bonds usually don’t decline in worth as a lot as shares throughout inventory market declines. 

The primary graph exhibits the decline of every throughout the begin of the COVID pandemic. You may see in March of 2020 that bonds declined in worth, however nowhere close to as a lot because the dividend ETF. 

The bonds declined a bit of greater than 5%. The dividend shares declined about 25%+. These are two very totally different experiences for traders. 

If you happen to had $1,000,000 invested in every, you’ll have about $950,000 invested in bonds and about $750,000 invested within the dividends shares close to the lows. 

The second graph exhibits the efficiency of the identical ETFs throughout the Monetary Disaster in 2009. Bonds primarily held their worth throughout that point whereas the dividend shares declined significantly. 

Decline of Dividends vs. Bonds Financial Crisis

If an investor needs to take extra inventory threat and is snug with the ups and downs, that’s okay, however dividend shares will not be an alternative choice to bonds. I’d return to my earlier level that if an investor needs to take extra inventory threat, why not make investments it in a means that focuses on value appreciation? 

That means you get to manage how you’re taxed. 

Drawback 5: Dividends Cut back What The Firm Can Reinvest for Development

One more reason I don’t like specializing in dividend investing is that firms that pay dividends have much less cash to reinvest for progress.

They’re admitting that they don’t have concepts to extend the worth of the corporate, which normally means they’re accomplished rising as quick. 

One other means to take a look at it’s that they’re saying, “We don’t have a accountable means to make use of this cash and it will be higher in your arms.” Then, you grow to be liable for deciding what to do with that revenue – whether or not it’s investing it or spending it. 

Since dividend firms are typically extra mature, their higher days are normally behind them, and this exhibits up in efficiency.

For instance, beneath is a chart of the identical dividend ETF in comparison with an S&P 500 ETF (ticker: SPY). As you may see, efficiency has been decrease for the dividend paying shares than the ETF that tracks the S&P 500. 

Dividends vs. S&P 500 ETF Performance

I’d a lot moderately spend money on firms which can be reinvesting income, being modern, and have extra potential for value appreciation. 

Drawback 6: Focusing Solely On Dividend Shares Reduces Diversification 

One other usually forgotten side of specializing in dividend shares is that you’re excluding an entire universe of shares! 

In truth, FINRA reported that in 2015 that about 84% of the businesses within the S&P 500 index pay dividends. Within the Customary & Poor’s mid-cap index, it was about 70.5%. For the Customary & Poor’s small-cap index, solely about 54% have been paying dividends. 

Let’s have a look at an instance as of April 2022. 

If I display screen for home firms buying and selling on the NYSE or NASDAQ utilizing Charles Schwab’s inventory screener, there are 4,548 firms out there. 

If I display screen for firms that don’t pay a dividend, there are 2,826 firms out there. 

Which means there are about 62% of firms that don’t pay dividends. 

Are you able to think about solely specializing in about 38% of the investable shares? 

In case you are solely specializing in dividend investing, you’re leaving out many firms. Plus, you’re probably leaving out shares from sure segments of the market. 

For instance, you probably would have much less of an publicity to small cap shares. As famous earlier, solely 54% of small cap shares have been paying dividends in 2015. Once I do the screening in the present day, it’s about 52% – not a lot has modified. Traditionally, small cap shares have carried out higher than massive cap shares over longer intervals of time. 

Focusing completely on dividend shares means you aren’t as diversified as you may be. 

Drawback 7: Dividends Are Not Assured  

Lastly, and maybe most significantly, dividends will not be assured. 

Individuals speak about dividend shares as if they’re assured to go on for endlessly, however there are a lot of examples of shares slicing their dividends and even going bankrupt

Oftentimes, dividends are lower or diminished with no discover. Worse, the inventory value can drop, generally considerably, on the similar time dividends are lower or diminished. 

There are various shares individuals thought have been “secure bets” as a result of that they had been paying a dividend for a very long time or constantly made cash. With hindsight, it’s simple to say, “After all, I wouldn’t spend money on that kind of inventory. I’d promote it earlier than issues obtained dangerous.” 

That’s what many individuals assume, however but, that’s not what occurs.

You may ask traders in Normal Motors. They paid a dividend for a number of many years up till 2006 once they diminished their dividend after which in 2009 declared chapter. 

What about Washington Mutual? It was an enormous monetary establishment with a rising dividend till they declared chapter in 2008. Individuals misplaced a lifetime of financial savings. 

You even have BP. It seemed strong as a dividend paying firm till the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The inventory dropped significantly, and the corporate suspended their dividend for over half a yr. 

Individuals usually will say this gained’t occur to them – that they’ve a strong firm. But, who can management what occurs on this planet?

Who can management how client habits change, whether or not somebody commits fraud, or how the world will reply to a disaster? 

Dividends will not be assured. It’s not an everyday revenue stream you may depend on.

Last Ideas – My Query for You

Dividend investing has been well-liked for a very long time, however it appears to return out and in of favor relying on what is occurring on this planet. 

I’m not a fan of dividend investing. 

Not solely do dividends improve your taxes, however they’re a pressured taxation. As a monetary planner, I desire investing in a means that enables for extra tax planning. 

Dividends are definitely not free cash. Your whole return is what you need to care most about, and I desire most of my return to return from value appreciation – not dividends. 

Though individuals could declare you may maintain dividend shares as a bond substitute, you now know the chance shouldn’t be the identical. 

When an organization pays a dividend, they’re admitting they don’t have good concepts to develop your cash. Over time, we’ve seen that dividend shares as an entire have worse efficiency. 

Lastly, dividends will not be assured. Don’t let anybody let you know in any other case. 

I’ll depart you with one query to behave on. 

Which downside with dividend investing will you keep in mind the following time you learn an article about the advantages of dividend investing?



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