How Are Bond ETF Dividends Taxed?

The Sit Rising Rate ETF is an exception (RISE). This ETF is officially a commodities pool because it uses futures contracts and options on Treasurys. That is to say:

  • The profits of RISE are taxed differently. The long-term capital gains rate of 20% will be applied to 60% of any gains. No of how long you held your shares, the remaining 40% is taxed at your usual income rate. This equals a 27.84 percent blended maximum capital gains rate.
  • RISE is a “pass-through” investment, which means that profits must be “marked to market” at the end of the year and distributed to shareholders. (“Marked to market” means that the ETF’s futures contracts will be treated as if it had sold them for tax reasons.) Whether or not you sold your shares, you may be liable for taxes on those profits.
  • A Schedule K-1 form is generated by RISE. For taxpayers who are unfamiliar with K-1s, they can be perplexing and time-consuming.
  • RISE may also generate Unrelated Business Taxable Income (UBTI), which could be taxable in nontaxable accounts like an IRA, though this is rare.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) doesn’t only tax the earnings you received from selling your bond ETF shares. It also taxes any bond ETF payouts you may have received.

Interest payments from bond ETFs are taxed as ordinary income. Bond ETFs provide owners regular (typically monthly) coupon payments, which is one of their main selling features. This money, however, is taxable. Despite being referred to as “dividends,” the IRS does not consider these payments to be qualified dividends, and hence do not qualify for the reduced qualified dividends tax rate. Instead, they’re taxed as ordinary income, with a top rate of 39.6% if they’re taxable at all… assuming they’re taxable at all (more on that below).

Bond ETFs are more likely to deliver capital gains than stock ETFs. Bond ETF managers are frequently required to buy and sell securities throughout the year in order to maintain a specific duration or maturity range. Bonds mature on a regular basis, and bond ETF managers can’t use the same tax-loss harvesting tactics that they do with equities. (For further information, see “Why Are ETFs So Tax Efficient?”) This could eventually lead to a yearly capital gains distribution. While the great majority of ETFs do not pay out capital gains to investors each year, the ones that do are typically bond ETFs.

The capital gains dividends from bond ETFs are often quite minimal. These dividends are often less than 1% of the ETF’s net asset value. The capital gains distribution for the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG | A-98) was only 0.08 percent of NAV in 2014. Gains of 0.26 percent were given by the Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND | A-94). Bond ETFs with constrained maturities, on the other hand, will have larger statistics.

Do ETF payouts have to be taxed?

ETF dividends are taxed based on the length of time the investor has owned the ETF. The payout is deemed a “qualified dividend” if the investor held the fund for more than 60 days before the dividend was paid, and it is taxed at a rate ranging from 0% to 20%, depending on the investor’s income tax rate.

Are bond fund payouts considered qualifying dividends?

Dividends from U.S. and international firms qualify for lower income tax rates for investors who earn the dividends, according to IRS guidelines. Dividends earned from stock ownership are known as qualified dividends. The type of securities held by an ETF determines the tax status of dividends paid by the fund. An ETF must possess stock that pays eligible dividends in order to pay qualified dividends. Bond funds do not pay eligible dividends since bonds pay interest.

How can I include an ETF on my tax return?

Dividends and interest payments from ETFs are taxed by the IRS in the same way as income from the underlying stocks or bonds, and the income is reflected on your 1099 statement. Profits on ETFs sold at a profit are taxed in the same way as the underlying equities or bonds.

How are dividends from REITs taxed?

Dividend payments are assigned to ordinary income, capital gains, and return of capital for tax reasons for REITs, each of which may be taxed at a different rate. Early in the year, all public firms, including REITs, must furnish shareholders with information indicating how the prior year’s dividends should be allocated for tax purposes. The Industry Data section contains a historical record of the allocation of REIT distributions between regular income, return of capital, and capital gains.

The majority of REIT dividends are taxed as ordinary income up to a maximum rate of 37% (returning to 39.6% in 2026), plus a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income. Through December 31, 2025, taxpayers can deduct 20% of their combined qualifying business income, which includes Qualified REIT Dividends. When the 20% deduction is taken into account, the highest effective tax rate on Qualified REIT Dividends is normally 29.6%.

REIT dividends, on the other hand, will be taxed at a lower rate in the following situations:

  • When a REIT makes a capital gains distribution (tax rate of up to 20% plus a 3.8 percent surtax) or a return of capital dividend (tax rate of up to 20% plus a 3.8 percent surtax);
  • When a REIT distributes dividends received from a taxable REIT subsidiary or other corporation (20% maximum tax rate plus 3.8 percent surtax); and when a REIT distributes dividends received from a taxable REIT subsidiary or other corporation (20% maximum tax rate plus 3.8 percent surtax); and when a REIT distributes dividends received from
  • When allowed, a REIT pays corporation taxes and keeps the profits (20 percent maximum tax rate, plus the 3.8 percent surtax).

Furthermore, the maximum capital gains rate of 20% (plus the 3.8 percent surtax) applies to the sale of REIT stock in general.

The withholding tax rate on REIT ordinary dividends paid to non-US investors is depicted in this graph.

How do ETFs get around paying taxes?

  • Investors can use ETFs to get around a tax restriction that applies to mutual fund transactions when it comes to declaring capital gains.
  • When a mutual fund sells assets in its portfolio, the capital gains are passed on to fund owners.
  • ETFs, on the other hand, are designed so that such transactions do not result in taxable events for ETF shareholders.
  • Furthermore, because there are so many ETFs that cover similar investment philosophies or benchmark indexes, it’s feasible to sidestep the wash-sale rule by using tax-loss harvesting.

How do exchange-traded funds (ETFs) avoid capital gains?

  • Because of their easy, broad, and low-fee techniques, ETFs have become a popular investment tool. There are no capital gains or taxes when ETFs are merely bought and sold.
  • ETFs are often regarded “pass-through” investment vehicles, which means that their shareholders are not exposed to capital gains. However, due to one-time significant transactions or unforeseen situations, ETFs might create capital gains that are transmitted to shareholders on occasion.
  • For example, if an ETF needs to substantially rearrange its portfolio due to significant changes in the underlying benchmark, it may experience a capital gain.

Which is better for taxes: an ETF or an index fund?

If you’re an active trader or simply prefer to apply more advanced tactics in your purchases, an ETF is the way to go. Because ETFs are traded on exchanges like stocks, you can use limit orders, stop-loss orders, and even margin to purchase them. With mutual funds, you can’t apply such kinds of methods.

If you’re investing in a taxable brokerage account, an ETF may be able to provide you with more tax efficiency than an index fund. Index funds, on the other hand, are still quite tax-efficient, therefore the difference is insignificant. Don’t sell an index fund to acquire an ETF with the same performance. That’s basically asking for a slew of tax complications.

If your broker charges hefty commissions on your transactions and you want to be fully invested at all times, invest in an index fund. You may be able to start investing in index funds with a lower minimum than an identical ETF in some situations.

When the similar ETF is thinly traded, resulting in a huge disparity between the ETF price on the exchange and the value of the underlying assets held by the ETF, index funds are an excellent solution. The net asset value will always be used to price an index fund.

Always compare fees to ensure you’re not overpaying for your preferred option. If you’re deciding between an ETF and an index fund, the expense ratio can help you decide.

Is it true that bond ETFs are more tax-efficient?

ETFs, on the other hand, are more tax-efficient than mutual funds due to their structure. However, while ETFs have a tax advantage over stock funds, bond funds do not often have large capital gains.