How are reinvested dividends treated in an ESPP?

March 10, 2004

Subject:   ESPPs and reinvested dividends
Date:   Sat, 14 Feb 2004
From:   Scott

Dear Michael – as a compensation professional, I truly enjoy reading your articles on equity based plans.

I have a question that has been stumping me as I haven’t been able to find a definitive reference. How are reinvested dividends treated in a qualifying disposition from a 423 ESPP plan? As an example, if someone was to sell 1200 shares of an ESPP (purchased pre-2002 – with identical grant/purchase dates) of which 200 shares were from reinvested dividends during the same period, do the dividends adjust the cost basis? I can’t recall seeing a 1099-DIV issued on reinvested dividends for an ESPP so I was curious how to calculate their value or adjustment to basis in determinting either a tax loss or gain on sale.

I know there must be an answer to this, but haven’t been able to find it anywhere.

Your thoughts would be most appreciated,


Date:   Thu, 04 Mar 2004

Hello Scott,

The dividends are taxable and the amount of the reinvestment is tax basis. Companies should be issuing form 1099-DIV for dividends paid with respect to ESPP shares.

Good luck!

Mike Gray

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