Browse Analysis of Managed and Structured Products

18.4.1 Tax Consequences Of Redemption

Understand the tax implications of redeeming mutual fund shares, including distributions, capital gains, and the adjusted cost base in this section.

Tax Consequences of Redemption

Mutual funds redeem their shares on request at a price that equals the fund’s Net Asset Value per Share (NAVPS). If there are no back-end load charges or deferred sales charges, the investor receives the NAVPS amount. Otherwise, the investor receives the NAVPS amount minus the sales commission. Mutual funds can generate taxable income in two primary ways:

  • Through the distribution of interest income, dividends, and capital gains realized by the fund.
  • Through any capital gains realized when the investor sells the fund.

Did You Know?

Transactions that occur within a fund, such as buying and selling individual stocks or bonds, can result in income distributions to fund investors, like a capital gain, in the year the distribution occurs.

However, when mutual fund investors sell their shares of a fund, they simply receive the cash. Because such transactions do not occur within the fund, any capital gain realized results from the investor’s action, not a transaction within the fund itself.

Annual Distributions

When mutual funds are held outside a registered plan, such as a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a registered retirement income fund (RRIF), the fund holder receives either a T3 form (for unitholders) or a T5 form (for shareholders).

Both tax forms report the types of income distributed that year: foreign income, Canadian interest, capital gains, and dividends, including dividends that have been reinvested. Each type of income is taxed at the fund holder’s personal rate in the year received.


Lewis purchases an equity mutual fund for $11 per share. In each of the next five years, he receives $1 in annual distributions per share, composed of $0.50 in dividends and $0.50 in distributed capital gains. Each year, Lewis receives a T5 form from the fund, indicating that he must report an additional $1 per share in income to the Canada Revenue Agency. The T5 may also include offsetting dividend tax credits (from dividends earned from taxable Canadian corporations).

Capital Gains

When a fund holder redeems the shares or units of the fund, the transaction is considered a disposition for tax purposes. As such, it could result in either a capital gain or a capital loss. Only 50% of net capital gains is added to the investor’s income and taxed at their marginal rate. Net capital gains are equal to total capital gains minus total capital losses.


Suppose a mutual fund shareholder buys shares in a fund at a NAVPS of $11 and later sells them at a NAVPS of $16. The sale generates a capital gain of $5 per share. The investor must therefore report an additional $2.50 per share in income for the year (calculated as 50% ( imes ) $5 capital gain). This capital gain is not shown on the fund’s T5 form because the sale was not a fund transaction.

Distributions Triggering Unexpected Taxes

Throughout the year, mutual funds generate capital gains and losses when they sell securities. The distribution of capital gains follows the same schedule as interest and dividends, and if distribution of capital gains happens at year-end, it can be disadvantageous for investors who purchase a fund close to the year-end.


Consider an investor with a marginal tax rate of 40% who purchases an equity mutual fund through a non-registered account on December 1 at a NAVPS of $30. This fund had earned capital gains of $6 per share throughout the year. These capital gains are distributed to the investors at the end of December, either as reinvested shares or as cash. The NAVPS falls by the amount of the distribution, in this case, to $24.

Assuming the $6 was a net capital gain, the tax consequences are calculated as follows:

$$ 50 ext% \times $6.00 \times 40 ext% = $1.20 \text{ taxes payable per share} $$

Because of these tax implications, some investment advisors caution their clients against buying a mutual fund just before the year ends. They should first check with the fund sponsor to determine whether a capital gains distribution is pending.

Adjusting the Cost Base

A problem may arise when an investor chooses to reinvest fund income automatically in additional non-registered fund units. When the fund is sold, the capital gain must be calculated on the difference between the original purchase price and the sale price. The total sale price of the fund includes the original units purchased plus those units acquired through periodic reinvestment of fund income.


Maryam buys $10,000 of fund units. Over time, annual income is distributed, and Maryam pays tax on it but chooses to reinvest the income in additional fund units. Several years later, the total value of her portfolio rises to $18,000, and Maryam decides to sell the fund.

An uninformed observer might assume that Maryam gained $8,000. However, this increase comprises a capital gain and reinvested income on which she has already paid tax.

To calculate the adjusted cost base, the reinvested income must be added to the original investment amount: $10,000 + $3,500 = $13,500. The capital gain is then the difference between the sale price and the adjusted cost base: $18,000 - $13,500 = $4,500.

Key Takeaways

  • Mutual fund redemptions can result in taxable income from distributions and capital gains.
  • Annual distributions require reporting of various income types and are taxed at personal rates.
  • Capital gains from share redemptions are taxed at 50% of their value.
  • Year-end distributions can lead to unexpected taxes for recent investors.
  • Accurate record-keeping is crucial to correctly calculate the adjusted cost base and avoid double taxation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is NAVPS?

NAVPS stands for Net Asset Value per Share, representing the per-share value of a mutual fund’s assets after deducting its liabilities.

What is adjusted cost base (ACB)?

ACB is the total cost to purchase units of a mutual fund, including any fees and the value of reinvestments. It adjusts over time as dividends and distributions are reinvested.

How is capital gain calculated from a mutual fund redemption?

Capital gain is the difference between the selling price of the mutual fund units and their adjusted cost base. Only 50% of this net capital gain is added to the investor’s income and taxed at their marginal rate.

How can unexpected taxes occur from mutual fund investments?

Unexpected taxes may arise if a fund distributes capital gains at year-end, impacting investors who purchased shares close to this date and requiring them to pay tax on gains realized throughout the year.


  • NAVPS: Net Asset Value per Share, a measure representing per-share value of fund’s assets after liabilities.
  • Adjusted Cost Base (ACB): The total purchase cost of investment units, including reinvestments, which is crucial for calculating capital gains.
  • Capital Gain: The profit realized from selling an investment for more than its purchase price.
  • Distribution: Payment of income such as dividends, interest, or capital gains to fund investors.
  • Marginal Tax Rate: The tax rate applied to an individual’s last dollar of income.
  • T3/T5 Forms: Tax forms used to report various types of income earned from mutual funds.

CSC® Exams Practice Questions

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markdown ## When mutual funds are redeemed, at what price can they be redeemed? - [ ] At a price determined by the investor - [ ] At a price higher than the NAVPS to include performance gains - [ ] At a price lower than the NAVPS to include management fees - [x] At a price equal to the fund’s NAVPS > **Explanation:** Mutual funds are redeemed at their Net Asset Value per Share (NAVPS). ## What is a possible scenario for receiving income distributions from mutual funds? - [x] Through the distribution of interest income, dividends, and capital gains realized by the fund - [ ] By applying for income distribution manually - [ ] Only after a decade of investment - [ ] Only if the investor sells the fund > **Explanation:** Income distributions occur through interest income, dividends, and realized capital gains by the mutual fund itself. ## When must an investor report income generated from mutual funds held outside a registered plan? - [ ] Only upon selling the mutual fund - [x] In the year they receive the T3 or T5 form indicating the distributed income - [ ] At the end of five years of holding - [ ] Only after completely liquidating the mutual funds portfolio > **Explanation:** Investors must report distributed income in the year they receive it, as indicated by T3 or T5 tax forms. ## If an investor receives annual distributions composed of dividends and capital gains, how are these distributions treated for tax purposes? - [ ] As tax-exempt income - [ ] As a return of capital - [x] As taxable income at the investor's personal rate - [ ] As non-taxable income under $5,000 > **Explanation:** Such distributions are taxed at the personal tax rate of the investor. ## What happens to capital gains when mutual fund managers buy and sell stocks? - [ ] Gains are kept within the fund for reinvestment - [x] Realized capital gains are passed on to the fund holders - [ ] Gains are used to offset fund management expenses - [ ] Gains are not distributed to fund holders > **Explanation:** Realized capital gains are passed on to the mutual fund holders in the form of income distributions. ## When an investor sells their mutual fund shares at a higher NAVPS than the purchase price, what must they report? - [ ] A return of capital - [x] A capital gain worth 50% of the difference between the purchase and the sale NAVPS - [ ] A capital loss for tax deduction - [ ] No income as the gain is within the fund > **Explanation:** The investor must report 50% of the realized capital gain as taxable income. ## How can year-end distributions of capital gains affect mutual fund investors who buy in late in the year? - [ ] They can increase the portfolio value without tax consequences - [ ] They result in receiving tax deductions - [ ] They yield non-taxable dividends - [x] They can trigger unexpected taxes for gains earned throughout the year > **Explanation:** Investors may face unexpected tax liabilities for distributions earned over the full year, despite buying only at year-end. ## What must be added to the original purchase price to calculate the adjusted cost base? - [ ] Only reinvested dividends - [ ] Only the original net capital gains - [x] Periodic reinvestments of fund income and any commission expenses - [ ] Only the initial amount invested > **Explanation:** Adjusted cost base is calculated including all reinvested income and related commissions to avoid double taxation. ## What consequences might arise from failing to maintain accurate records of adjusted cost base? - [ ] Only minor inconveniences with annual statements - [x] Potential double taxation on reinvested income - [ ] Faster appraisal processes - [ ] Enhanced tax deductions > **Explanation:** Poorly kept records can lead to double taxation as the investor could erroneously pay taxes again on already taxed reinvested income. ## What advice might investment advisors give to clients considering buying mutual funds near year-end? - [ ] Ignore purchase timing as it has no tax implications - [ ] Purchase as the NAVPS is always beneficial - [x] Check with the fund sponsor if any distributions are pending that might trigger tax liabilities - [ ] Purchase in larger quantities to minimize impact > **Explanation:** Advisors recommend checking with the fund sponsor about pending distributions to avoid unexpected tax liabilities from year-end purchases.

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Sunday, July 21, 2024