Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Have a question about your personal investments? No matter how simple or complex, you can ask it here.
Post Reply
Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:26 pm

Hello, I am looking for help understanding my Vanguard account. I chose Specific Identification on my taxable account. I was just looking at the Cost Basis information on this account and noticed many discrepancies. Either mistakes have been made by Vanguard, or I am misunderstanding something.

Here is a screenshot of some purchases of VTSAX:

Image

You can see how on 8/15, 8/30, 9/14, 9/28, 10/15, and 10/30 I made VTSAX purchases in the amount of $10. These are automatic purchases and as I kept seeing $10 debited from my checking account, I assumed that I was purchasing $10 worth of VTSAX every two weeks.

Except when I look at my Cost Basis, it does not line up with my transactions at all.

Image

On 8/15, my total cost is listed as $9.40, on 8/30, 9/14, and 9/28 my cost is listed as $9.13, it's $9.73 on 10/15, and finally on 10/30 it's listed as the actual amount I invested, $10.

TWO QUESTIONS:

1.) If $10 was debited from my account for each of these purchases, why is my Total Cost line reporting the random amounts of $9.40, $9.13, and $9.73? My total cost should be $10 for each purchase. That is how much I invested on those days.

2.) Why is my "Cost per Share" constantly showing $66.66? While the screenshots I am showing are only a couple of months, this taxable account is over 1 years old, and I have supposedly Specifically Identified Shares on dozens of dates (sometimes up to five purchases in 1 month) and they are all listed with a cost per share of $66.66 even though that does not line up with the actual share price on the days that I made purchases.

I am sure there must be a reasonable explanation for this and I will feel embarrassed when it is explained to me. Please explain like I am a 5 year old.

User avatar
HueyLD
Posts: 6226
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:30 am

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by HueyLD » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:31 pm

When you called Vanguard, what did they say?

Good Listener
Posts: 613
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:24 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Good Listener » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:17 pm

I cant answer but they can I'm sure. On another note though, I'd stop the $10 purchases every 2 weeks. It adds a large number of tiny lots. What is the point? I'd wait unti li there is some meaningful amount to investand then make a transaction.

rkhusky
Posts: 5711
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by rkhusky » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:54 pm

They must be showing average cost basis. Have you ever sold shares from this fund in this account? Are you sure you have chosen Spec ID for this fund in this account?

ivk5
Posts: 459
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:05 am

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by ivk5 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:19 am

rkhusky wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:54 pm
They must be showing average cost basis. Have you ever sold shares from this fund in this account? Are you sure you have chosen Spec ID for this fund in this account?
+1.

Go to Account Maintenance -> Cost basis method. Look at the line for this fund/account. If it says AvgCost, you have your answer. If it says SpecID, call to ask why your cost basis summary doesn't match your selected cost basis method.

If you have sold any shares, look at the trade confirmations and confirm that they show specifically identified lots.

retiringwhen
Posts: 527
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:09 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by retiringwhen » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:23 pm

Is this account an IRA? If so, Vanguard only support Average Cost for mutual funds in IRA accounts (ETF's can track Spec. ID).

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:27 pm

ivk5 wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:19 am
rkhusky wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:54 pm
They must be showing average cost basis. Have you ever sold shares from this fund in this account? Are you sure you have chosen Spec ID for this fund in this account?
+1.

Go to Account Maintenance -> Cost basis method. Look at the line for this fund/account. If it says AvgCost, you have your answer. If it says SpecID, call to ask why your cost basis summary doesn't match your selected cost basis method.

If you have sold any shares, look at the trade confirmations and confirm that they show specifically identified lots.
Image

I'm 100% sure it's Specific Identification. That's the way I set it up and I've triple checked this.

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:30 pm

retiringwhen wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:23 pm
Is this account an IRA? If so, Vanguard only support Average Cost for mutual funds in IRA accounts (ETF's can track Spec. ID).
This is a taxable joint account.

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:40 pm

Good Listener wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:17 pm
I cant answer but they can I'm sure. On another note though, I'd stop the $10 purchases every 2 weeks. It adds a large number of tiny lots. What is the point? I'd wait unti li there is some meaningful amount to investand then make a transaction.
The point of the $10 purchases is that $10 is the amount we can afford to invest every two weeks after maxing out all of the tax-advantaged accounts we have available to us this year. I know it is not much, but this is the first year we have been able to max all tax-advantaged accounts, pay additional towards the mortgage so it pays off in 20 years instead of 30, and also contribute to a taxable account. I am very proud of this.

The largest reason I am doing this and do not give two hoots about making a load of small transactions is that I no longer have to do the math for it. This taxable account was opened in late 2017, early enough to receive a small amount of dividends which we then owed taxes on. When I filed our taxes through Turbo Tax, I had an option to link into the Vanguard account and have the numbers ported over automatically. This took me a grand total of maybe 3 minutes. All of the information ported over correctly (I triple checked this!) and I thought how neat it was, being used to having to read a piece of paper and then input everything manually. So when I had the opportunity to set up automatic investments in a micro amount, I jumped right on it. I don't have to worry about the dozens of tiny tax lots. I will use that link in through Turbo Tax and be done with it, no math for me, no worrying about making a simple mistake that will cause a ton of grief later.

retiringwhen
Posts: 527
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:09 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by retiringwhen » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:59 pm

Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:27 pm
I'm 100% sure it's Specific Identification. That's the way I set it up and I've triple checked this.
Two more thoughts.

One, how soon after making the first purchase did you set the Spec ID setting? It took about 10 days for me to see the cost basis page get updated after I made the change on a fund earlier this year.

Second, as noted on another thread, SEC regulations require that if you ever sell any shares from a lot of AvgCost shares, all of those shares retain the average cost (this is to avoid issues with gaming switching back and forth). If you sold share before switch, then only shares bought after the switch will have their actual purchase cost retained under Spec ID, the older shares will retain the average cost.

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:12 pm

retiringwhen wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:59 pm
Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:27 pm
I'm 100% sure it's Specific Identification. That's the way I set it up and I've triple checked this.
Two more thoughts.

One, how soon after making the first purchase did you set the Spec ID setting? It took about 10 days for me to see the cost basis page get updated after I made the change on a fund earlier this year.

Second, as noted on another thread, SEC regulations require that if you ever sell any shares from a lot of AvgCost shares, all of those shares retain the average cost (this is to avoid issues with gaming switching back and forth). If you sold share before switch, then only shares bought after the switch will have their actual purchase cost retained under Spec ID, the older shares will retain the average cost.
It's been over a year, but I'm pretty sure I set up Specific Identification either the first day I opened account, or at worst, possibly the next day.

In this taxable account, I have never sold any VTSAX.

retiringwhen
Posts: 527
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:09 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by retiringwhen » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:19 pm

Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:12 pm
retiringwhen wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:59 pm
Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:27 pm
I'm 100% sure it's Specific Identification. That's the way I set it up and I've triple checked this.
Two more thoughts.

One, how soon after making the first purchase did you set the Spec ID setting? It took about 10 days for me to see the cost basis page get updated after I made the change on a fund earlier this year.

Second, as noted on another thread, SEC regulations require that if you ever sell any shares from a lot of AvgCost shares, all of those shares retain the average cost (this is to avoid issues with gaming switching back and forth). If you sold share before switch, then only shares bought after the switch will have their actual purchase cost retained under Spec ID, the older shares will retain the average cost.
It's been over a year, but I'm pretty sure I set up Specific Identification either the first day I opened account, or at worst, possibly the next day.

In this taxable account, I have never sold any VTSAX.
Sounds like time for a call to customer support. Clearly an error.

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:38 pm

I was hoping it was just me not understanding.

All I have had is Vanguard errors since I started there. This after moving all of our IRA funds and taxable there. Like I went all in with them and it's been a mess.

UpperNwGuy
Posts: 1122
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 7:16 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by UpperNwGuy » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:38 pm

Call Vanguard.

retiringwhen
Posts: 527
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:09 am
Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by retiringwhen » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:48 pm

Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:38 pm
I was hoping it was just me not understanding.

All I have had is Vanguard errors since I started there. This after moving all of our IRA funds and taxable there. Like I went all in with them and it's been a mess.
Cost Basis management has been one of their achilles heels......

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:00 pm

retiringwhen wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:48 pm
Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:38 pm
I was hoping it was just me not understanding.

All I have had is Vanguard errors since I started there. This after moving all of our IRA funds and taxable there. Like I went all in with them and it's been a mess.
Cost Basis management has been one of their achilles heels......
Everything seems to be a heel.

I asked for help transferring two IRAs there.

I got the ppwk, filled it out, sent it in. Nothing happens for a few weeks so finally I call. Oh, it's the wrong ppwk (that they told me to fill out). Okay, why didn't anyone inform me of this? Why was the wrong ppwk just hanging out for weeks until I called in because it had been so long?

Move on the second set of ppwk. Same routine. Nothing happens, I finally call in. Wrong ppwk AGAIN.

Move on to third set. Again too much time passes, I finally call in, to be informed they lost my ppwk. On the phone, they "find" my ppwk and promise to process it "immediately."

Finally the transfers happen. This process ended up taking over 2 months due to their errors. And now this!

The rep I was connected with cannot seem to explain why my investment amounts (for over a year and the majority of them were higher than $10) do not match up with my contributions, nor why I am receiving Average Cost Method even though the account is set to Specific Identification. I am now on hold to transfer to Resolutions.

I don't even know what to do anymore. So far I have done transfers that were a mess, made multiple automatic contributions that are a mess, and my cost basis is a mess. Literally everything I have done with Vanguard, has been a mess. All I see all over the internet is how wonderful Vanguard is and I am not experiencing that at all. Sorry for the rant this is just really stressing me out.

rkhusky
Posts: 5711
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by rkhusky » Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:51 am

Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:00 pm
I am now on hold to transfer to Resolutions.
Did you get a resolution?

CenTexan
Posts: 32
Joined: Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:02 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by CenTexan » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:05 am

I had similar problems with Cost Basis on two funds with inherited shares. Vanguard apparently has a whole office of workers who fix these type problems. It took 3 and a half months, but mine finally got corrected. Contact them and be patient.

Wishskates
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 2:42 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Wishskates » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:43 pm

rkhusky wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:51 am
Wishskates wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:00 pm
I am now on hold to transfer to Resolutions.
Did you get a resolution?
Yes, it took a couple of overnights.

The person I was initially connected with explained to me that the reason my purchases in the various weekly/bi-weekly amounts of $30 and then $10 were showing in random amounts of $9.13 or $27.35 instead of $10 and $30 was because I bought fractional shares... It was like he was going to say anything to get me off the phone without bothering to even understand my question or look at my account.

So I had to move on and bring up the $66.66 Cost Per Share. I asked if my account was set for Specific Identification or Average Cost and he agreed it was set to Specific Identification. Then I got to ask, why am I seeing an Average Cost method being used if you agree I should be seeing Specific Identification? This is where he finally perked up and realized there was a problem and transferred me to Resolutions. At this point I had been on the phone for over 30 minutes.

The resolutions lady was great, though. She immediately understood the problem and told me it would take a couple of overnights to be corrected but should be done by Friday. I collected her contact information in case I had to call back, I could avoid going through the normal route.

This morning it is corrected, and looks as it should. Here is the corrected screenshot, I picked up the same dates as the screenshot in the OP.

Image

It did finally occur to me to check the other fund I have in this same account, which is also set to Specific Identification, and that one is showing correctly as Specific Identification.

I have no idea what happened or why this mistake was made, both Vanguard persons I spoke with agreed it was set up as Specific Identification but was showing as Average Cost, but could not or did not explain why that was happening.

rkhusky
Posts: 5711
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by rkhusky » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:48 pm

Wishskates wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:43 pm
Yes, it took a couple of overnights.
It's nice to hear when mistakes get corrected promptly.

drzzzzz
Posts: 256
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:56 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by drzzzzz » Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:34 pm

What is disconcerting to me is that the OP was smart enough to recognize there was a problem (and it was also easier to visualize since he/she was contributing the same amount each week which wasn't adding up), but most of us likely don't do the math to check cost basis and might often deposit varying amounts rather than the same amount each time - not sure I would have picked up this error if it happened to me. I did just convert some mutual fund shares of Vanguard total stock market (VTSAX) to VTI etf and the cost basis is still not listed correctly. My rep tells me that he is told that it will be about 8 business days until it will show correctly in the account - based upon input from someone else on one of these threads, I took screenshots before the conversion so I can check what they did. I continue to find it suprising and disappointing that a company as large as Vanguard doesnt have software to prevent these types of issues. I don't balance my checkbook any longer and presume the accounting is correct and I would like to make the same assumption with Vanguard, but my experience has been that is not always the case. I also congratulate the OP and doing regular deposits of any amount - way to go.

Monster99
Posts: 103
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:28 am

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by Monster99 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:01 am

Screen shots are always a good idea - I also keep all the transaction data in a Excel sheet that checks
Date, price, share amt, cost basis, ect. Trust but verify....🙂

rkhusky
Posts: 5711
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Vanguard Transactions & Cost Basis Discrepancies.

Post by rkhusky » Sat Nov 10, 2018 5:31 pm

You might notice it if you were expecting to tax loss harvest and went to sell specific shares and noticed that all the lots had the same price.

If you aren't into tax loss harvesting and just looking to sell some shares, then you would probably not think to look. And it probably wouldn't matter much if you didn't look, since you weren't really aware of tax loss harvesting in the first place.

Post Reply