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Taxes

Paying taxes on your investment income

How much will you owe? First, figure out what type of income you earned.
3 minute read

Points to know

  • There are several types of investment income—dividends, capital gains, and interest.
  • Some investors are also subject to an additional tax based on income.

Types of investment taxes

It's a lesson you probably learned early in your working life: When you make money, you usually owe taxes.

This is also true of money you make on your investments. Some taxes are due only when you sell investments at a profit, while other taxes are due when your investments pay you a distribution.

One of the benefits of retirement and college accounts—like IRAs and 529 accounts — is that the tax treatment of the money you earn is a little different. In many cases, you won't owe taxes on earnings until you take the money out of the account—or, depending on the type of account, ever.

See the tax treatment of:

Basic types of IRAs (for retirement)

529 plans (for college)

But for general investing accounts, taxes are due at the time you earn the money. The tax rate you pay on your investment income depends on how you earn the money.

Learn about the taxation of:

Dividends

Capital gains

Interest income

GOOD TO KNOW

The tax information presented here only applies to federal taxation. Individual states may have their own taxes on investment earnings. Talk to a tax advisor about your specific situation.

What about the Medicare surtax?

Investment income may also be subject to an additional 3.8% tax if you're above a certain income threshold.

In general, if your modified adjusted gross income is more than $200,000 (single filers) or $250,000 (married filing jointly), you may owe the tax. (These limits aren't currently indexed for inflation.)

Learn more about the Medicare surtax

Saving for retirement or college?

Take advantage of tax breaks just for you! See guidance that can help you make a plan, solidify your strategy, and choose your investments.

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Get more from Vanguard. Call 1-800-962-5028 to speak with an investment professional.

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Dividends
Not all investments pay dividends. If yours do, make sure you understand how they'll be taxed.

*If your qualified dividend income pushes you into the 25% tax bracket, only the amount of dividends that exceeds the 15% bracket will be subject to taxes.