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Gross Dividends: Calculation and Tax Implication

Last updated 06/05/2024 by

Daniel Dikio

Edited by

Fact checked by

Gross dividends are the total amount of dividends paid by a company before any taxes or deductions are applied. They are crucial for investors to understand as they represent the full benefit received from their investment, impacting overall returns and tax planning. Reinvesting gross dividends can enhance portfolio growth through compounding, making them a key consideration in investment strategies.

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What are dividends?

Dividends are payments made by a corporation to its shareholders, usually in the form of cash or additional shares of stock. These payments represent a portion of the company’s earnings and are typically distributed on a regular basis, such as quarterly or annually. Dividends are a key component of the total return on an investment, alongside capital gains.
There are various types of dividends:
  1. Cash dividends: These are the most common form of dividends, paid out in cash to shareholders. They provide a steady income stream, which can be particularly attractive for income-focused investors.
  2. Stock dividends: Instead of cash, shareholders receive additional shares of the company’s stock. This can be beneficial as it increases the investor’s holdings without requiring additional investment.
  3. Property dividends: Rarely, companies may pay dividends in the form of physical assets, though this is uncommon.

Understanding gross dividends

Gross dividends refer to the total amount of dividends paid by a company before any taxes or deductions are applied. This is the amount declared by the company when announcing its dividend payout. Gross dividends are an important measure as they represent the full benefit received by the shareholder from their investment before considering the impact of taxes.
Gross dividends differ from net dividends, which are the amount received by the shareholder after all taxes and fees have been deducted. For example, if a company declares a gross dividend of $1 per share, and the tax rate on dividends is 15%, the net dividend received by the shareholder would be $0.85 per share.


If an investor owns 100 shares of a company that declares a gross dividend of $2 per share, the total gross dividend would be:
100 shares×$2 per share=$200
100 shares×$2 per share=$200
If the applicable tax rate is 20%, the total tax paid would be:
Thus, the net dividend received would be:

How gross dividends are calculated

Calculating gross dividends involves determining the total dividend declared by the company and multiplying it by the number of shares owned. Here’s a step-by-step process:
  1. Determine the dividend per share (DPS): The company announces the dividend per share, which is the amount of the dividend for each individual share.
  2. Find the number of shares owned: The investor needs to know how many shares they own in the company.
  3. Multiply DPS by number of shares: Multiply the dividend per share by the total number of shares owned to get the gross dividend.

Example calculation

Let’s say a company declares a dividend of $3 per share, and an investor owns 50 shares. The gross dividend calculation would be:
$3 (DPS)×50 shares=$150 (Gross Dividend)
$3 (DPS)×50 shares=$150 (Gross Dividend)
Various factors can influence the amount of gross dividends, including:
  • Company profits: Higher profits can lead to higher dividend payouts.
  • Dividend policy: Some companies have a policy of paying out a fixed percentage of their earnings as dividends.
  • Economic conditions: In times of economic uncertainty, companies may reduce or suspend dividend payments to conserve cash.

Tax implications of gross dividends

The tax treatment of dividends varies by region and depends on whether the dividends are classified as qualified or non-qualified.
  1. Qualified dividends: These are typically taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. To be qualified, dividends must be paid by a U.S. corporation or a qualified foreign corporation, and the investor must meet certain holding period requirements.
  2. Non-qualified dividends: These are taxed at the investor’s regular income tax rate.

Tax treatment in different regions

  • United States: Qualified dividends are taxed at long-term capital gains tax rates, which range from 0% to 20%, depending on the investor’s income bracket. Non-qualified dividends are taxed at ordinary income tax rates.
  • Europe: Tax rates vary by country. For example, in the UK, dividends above a certain allowance are taxed at rates of 7.5%, 32.5%, or 38.1%, depending on the investor’s income.
  • Canada: Dividends are subject to a gross-up and credit system that provides partial relief for taxes already paid at the corporate level.

Importance of gross dividends for investors

Gross dividends play a critical role in an investor’s total return and can serve as a reliable source of income. They are particularly important for income-focused investors, such as retirees, who rely on dividend payments for their living expenses.
  • Investment income: Gross dividends provide a regular income stream, which can be reinvested to grow the investment portfolio or used for other financial needs.
  • Total return: Dividends contribute to the total return of an investment. Even if the stock price remains stable, the dividend payments add to the overall return.
  • Company performance: Consistent and growing dividends can be an indicator of a company’s financial health and profitability. Companies that regularly pay dividends are often seen as stable and reliable investments.
Investors often use dividends as a measure of a company’s performance and a critical factor in their investment strategy.

Reinvesting gross dividends

Reinvesting dividends can significantly enhance the growth of an investment portfolio over time through the power of compounding. Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs) allow investors to automatically reinvest their dividends to purchase additional shares of the company’s stock.

Benefits of DRIPs

  • Compounding: Reinvesting dividends leads to the purchase of additional shares, which in turn earn more dividends, creating a compounding effect.
  • Cost-efficiency: DRIPs often allow investors to buy shares without paying brokerage fees, and sometimes even at a discount.
  • Ease of use: Automatic reinvestment simplifies the investment process and ensures that dividends are consistently reinvested.

Example of compounding

An investor owns 100 shares of a company that pays a gross dividend of $2 per share. If the dividends are reinvested, the investor can buy additional shares with each dividend payment. Over time, this leads to exponential growth in the number of shares owned and the total value of the investment.

Case studies and real-world examples

Exploring real-world examples helps illustrate the impact of gross dividends on investment returns.
  1. High-dividend-paying company: Consider a company like AT&T, which has historically paid high dividends. An investor who has held AT&T shares for several years would have received substantial dividend income, contributing significantly to their total return.
  2. Dividend growth: Companies like Johnson & Johnson have a history of increasing their dividends annually. This growth not only provides increasing income for investors but also signals the company’s strong financial health.
  3. Comparison: Comparing a high-dividend-paying company with one that reinvests its profits into growth (like Amazon) shows the different benefits and strategies for investors. While Amazon may offer higher capital gains, a company with high gross dividends provides steady income.


What are gross dividends?

Gross dividends are the total dividends paid by a company before any taxes or deductions.

How are gross dividends different from net dividends?

Gross dividends are the declared amount before taxes, while net dividends are the amount received after taxes and fees.

Are gross dividends taxable?

Yes, gross dividends are subject to taxes, which vary based on the investor’s location and the type of dividend.

Can gross dividends be reinvested?

Yes, gross dividends can be reinvested through DRIPs or manually to purchase more shares.

What should investors consider when evaluating gross dividends?

Investors should consider the company’s financial health, dividend history, payout ratio, and the tax implications of the dividends.

Key takeaways

  • Gross dividends represent the total amount of dividends paid by a company before any taxes or deductions.
  • Understanding gross dividends is crucial for assessing investment returns and planning for taxes.
  • Reinvesting gross dividends can significantly enhance portfolio growth through compounding.
  • Dividends play a vital role in providing income and indicating company performance.
  • Investors should be aware of the tax implications of dividends and consider them in their investment strategy.

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