Mutual funds offer a wide range of benefits for investors and the function of a fund is pretty easy to understand. The one item which sometimes confuses investors is the payment of year-end distributions. Distributions are mandatory for a fund if the fund incurred net gains or income for the year. Distributions are a taxable item for fund investors. Funds in which you are invested will send out a year-end statement which includes the distributions paid on your account. For funds you do not own, or if you misplaced the statement, the mutual fund family will publish year-end distributions for any fund which made a payout.
Locate the mutual fund family website for a specific fund for which you want to find the year-end distributions. A search engine search for the fund family should produce a link directly to the home page of the mutual fund family.
Locate the search box on the mutual fund family home page and perform a search for "year end distributions" -- quote marks not required. In most cases the first item on the search results will be the Web page for the year-end distributions from the previous year. Select the Web page for the distributions. Every fund from the family which paid a distribution will be listed.
Write down the distribution amounts for the mutual fund or funds for which you want the information. Note the different categories of distributions including long-term capital gains, short-term capital gains and dividends.
- Year-end distribution amounts are per share. To calculate the dollar amount of a distribution, multiply by the number of shares owned.
- When distributions are paid, a fund's share price will decline by the amount of the distribution. Investors who see relatively large drop in the share price near the end of the year should check to see if a distribution has been paid.
- A fund may not make a distribution every year. Only net profits must be distributed. If the stock market has a bad year, the fund can carry losses into future years and no distributions will be made until the losses have been offset by gains.
Tim Plaehn has been writing financial, investment and trading articles and blogs since 2007. His work has appeared online at Seeking Alpha, Marketwatch.com and various other websites. Plaehn has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy.