Tax Center: Capital Gains Frequently Asked Questions

Tax Center: Capital Gains Frequently Asked Questions

Specific tax information to help you prepare your tax return.

  • A capital gain occurs when a mutual fund manager sells a security in the portfolio that has increased in value. A capital gain is also realized when you sell a capital asset, such as a stock or bond, for more than what you paid.

  • It's a gain on an investment that has been held for more than one year. The maximum tax rate for a long-term capital gain is 20% plus an additional 3.8% Medicare tax for certain individuals.

  • It's a gain on an investment that has been held for one year or less. Short-term capital gains are taxed at the same rates as ordinary income and interest. Tax rates for short-term gains can range as high as 37% plus an additional 3.8% Medicare tax for certain individuals.

  • When a mutual fund generates income from its holdings or sells shares of stock and receives a capital gain, it is required by law to pay most of the income and gain, minus the fund's operating expenses, to its shareholders in the form of distributions.

  • Even if a fund's share price has fallen, it is possible for the fund to have realized capital gains on stocks that it sold during the year. For example, the fund could sell a stock that has gone up significantly since the fund bought it, but whose price has recently declined. If the price when the stock is sold remains higher than what the fund paid for it, the fund has still realized a gain, which it must pass along to its shareholders as a taxable capital gain. The fund could have gains in many individual stocks, but those gains may be outweighed by losses in other stocks, resulting in a lower net asset value.

  • On the day that a fund distributes a dividend or capital gain to shareholders, the fund's net asset value per share drops by the amount of the distribution per share. The drop in the net asset value does not reflect a loss in your overall investment value. Instead, it indicates that a portion of that value has been given to you as income or a capital gain. If you reinvest the distribution, the number of shares in your account will increase proportionally, so that the total value of your account will not be affected by the distribution.

  • Definitions for Record date, Ex-date, Payable date
    Type Definition
    Record date

    Date when the fund determines which shareholders are entitled to a distribution of dividends and/or capital gains. Shareholders "of record"–those who own shares of the fund on the record date–receive the distribution. Those who invest after the record date do not receive the distribution.

    Date when the distribution of dividends and capital gains is deducted from the mutual fund's assets and set aside for payment to shareholders. On the ex-date, the fund's share price (net asset value per share) drops by the amount of the distribution.
    Payable date
    Date on which the declared dividend or capital gain distribution is scheduled to be paid to shareholders who elected to receive cash payments.


  • As applied to a mutual fund investment, a wash sale is the sale of mutual fund shares and a purchase of shares of the same mutual fund within 30 days before or after the sale. The IRS does not allow investors to use a wash sale tactic for realizing a capital loss for tax purposes. If the transaction is subject to the wash sale rule, and if there is any loss on the sale (including a difference in value because of the sales charge that was paid), it is not recognized for federal income tax purposes and generally cannot be used to offset capital gains. Investors have to wait at least 31 days before repurchasing shares in a fund sold for a loss. Be aware that this waiting period could have a negative impact on your portfolio strategy, depending on market conditions. The wash sale rule is very complicated, so you should consult your tax advisor if you are considering such a strategy.

  • If the securities were held by the fund for more than one year, the gain will be taxed at the lower capital gains tax rate and identified as long-term gains on your Form 1099-DIV, which you will receive from the fund in early February. Distributions of dividends, income, and capital gains held one year or less are taxed as ordinary income and are reported as "dividend income" on your tax return.

  • Because the gains relate to the securities owned by the fund, a distribution of long-term gains by the fund is subject to long-term capital gains tax rates, even if you held the shares for less than a year.

  • Yes. Distributions of dividends and capital gains in non-retirement accounts are subject to income tax regardless of whether you receive them in cash or reinvest them in additional shares.

  • In early February, the fund will send you a Form 1099-DIV identifying all the distributions paid to you during the tax year, and it will show a breakdown between ordinary income dividends and long-term capital gain distributions.

  • Since short-term capital gains are usually taxed the same as taxable dividends, the IRS prefers that both amounts appear on the same Form 1099-DIV. A complete itemized listing of short-term capital gains and dividends can be found on your year-end account statement.


Consider a fund's investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus and the summary prospectus contain this and other information about the fund. Contact your financial professional for a prospectus and the summary prospectus. Read them carefully before investing.

An investment in our money market funds is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. Although the funds seek to preserve the value of your clients investment at $1.00 per share, it is possible to lose money by investing in the funds.

Mutual fund investing involves risk. Some mutual funds have more risk than others. The investment return and principal value will fluctuate and investor's shares when sold may be worth more or less than the original cost. Fixed income investments are subject to interest rate risk, and their value will decline as interest rates rise. Asset allocation and diversification do not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. There is no guarantee a Fund's objectives will be achieved. The risks associated with each fund are explained more fully in each fund's respective prospectus. Your clients should consult with their attorney, accountant, and/or tax professional for advice concerning their particular situation.

This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective clients. The information is not intended as investment advice and is not a recommendation about managing or investing your retirement savings. Clients seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.

Investment products are distributed by Prudential Investment Management Services LLC, a Prudential Financial company, member SIPC. Separately Managed Accounts are offered through our affiliates. Jennison Associates and PGIM, Inc. (PGIM) are registered investment advisors and Prudential Financial companies. QMA is the primary business name of QMA LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of PGIM. PGIM Fixed Income and PGIM Real Estate, are units of PGIM. © 2020 Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities. Jennison Associates, Jennison, PGIM Real Estate, PGIM and the PGIM logo are service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.

Prudential Financial, Inc. of the United States is not affiliated with Prudential plc. which is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

Investment Products: Are not insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency, may lose value, and are not a deposit of or guaranteed by any bank or any bank affiliate.


For Compliance Use Only:1014238-00002-00 Ed. 05/2020