Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund tax distributions

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The Vanguard Emerging Market Index Fund is a suitable candidate for placement in taxable accounts. This index fund tracks the FTSE Emerging Index. The fund is usually held by investors who wish to hold specific targeted allocations to regional stock markets (Figure 1). Thus, the fund is usually held in combination with the following regional international funds:

The fund is also held by investors who hold a developed market index and wish to add emerging market exposure (Figure 2). Vanguard offers the following developed market fund:

The table below summarizes the fund's relation to a number of tax factors.

Table 1. Summary
Fig. 1
The Bernstein Coward Portfolio
Fund Distributions.jpg Favorable tax factors Fund Distributions.jpg Unfavorable tax factors Fig. 2
The Swenson Lazy Portfolio

Bernstein Coward Portfolio.PNG

Historical gains distributions : Very low
Foreign tax credit: Yes
Qualified dividends: Yes (avg. 58%)
Turnover: Moderate
ETF shares : Yes

Dividends: Higher than growth indexes
Stock Migration: Moderate

Swensen Lazy Portfolio2.PNG

The following tables provide long term data on the fund's history of both dividend and capital gains distributions. Table 2 also provides the historical distribution of qualified dividends and an estimate of the foreign tax credit.

Table 4 provides a database of the fund's accounting figures: the annual level of realized and distributed gains; its level of unrealized gains and loss carryforwards; as well as the annual in-kind redemption gains the fund has realized. These figures highlight the level of a fund's tax liabilities.

Because both manager turnover of securities inside the portfolio and investor turnover of fund shares can affect the level of gains realization, a third table provides historical turnover ratios.

When dividing international allocations among regional index funds in taxable accounts, an investor will need to occasionally rebalance the allocation in a tax efficient manner, and should remain aware of any opportunities to harvest tax losses. [1]


The following table provides a view of the fund's historical distributions expressed in terms of yields. We can see that the fund distributed one capital gains distribution during 1994, its first year of existence, but has not distributed a gain since. Approximately 60% of dividend distributions have been qualified dividends, which under the current tax regime, are taxed at lower capital gains tax rates.

The fund has changed tracking indexes twice in its history. From inception through August 23, 2006 the fund was benchmarked to the Select Emerging Markets Index; the fund switched benchmarks to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index through January 9, 2013; the fund temporarily used the FTSE Emerging Transition Index through June 27, 2013; and then switched to the FTSE Emerging Index thereafter. The transition years of benchmark changes are marked in red shading.

Table 2. Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund
Year Dividend Investor shares
Dividend Admiral shares
Dividend ETF shares
Short-term Capital Gains
Long-term Capital Gains
[3][notes 1]
Qualified Dividends
Foreign tax credit
[notes 2]
(FY) Annual Return - Investor [5]
2015 2.53% 2.71% 2.71% 0.00% 0.00% 38.39% 0.30% -15.74%
2014 2.56% 2.74% 2.74% 0.00% 0.00% 37.13% 0.30% 3.59%
2013 2.45% 2.63% 2.63% 0.00% 0.00% 48.29% 0.31% 4.78%
2012 2.38% 2.53% 2.53% 0.00% 0.00% 57.37% 0.30% 3.30%
2011 2.25% 2.38% 2.38% 0.00% 0.00% 62.01% 0.28% -9.09%
2010 1.97% 2.10% 2.10% 0.00% 0.00% 55.54% 0.21% 24.92%
2009 2.16% 2.29% 2.29% 0.00% 0.00% 61.38% 0.21% 60.07%
2008 2.81% 2.93% 2.93% 0.00% 0.00% 64.33% 0.23% -56.66%
2007 2.24% 2.36% 2.36% 0.00% 0.00% 59.93% 0.24% 69.59%
2006 2.20% 2.32% 2.32% 0.00% 0.00% 65.74% 0.29% 32.55%
2005 2.48% - 2.59% 0.00% 0.00% 60.77% 0.40% 33.66%
2004 2.44% - - 0.00% 0.00% 68.41% 0.36% 18.43%
2003 2.26% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a 0.33% 49.88%
2002 1.67% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a 0.23% 5.27%
2001 2.69% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a 0.22% -17.55%
2000 1.51% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a n/a -27.56%
1999 2.55% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a n/a 61.57%
1998 2.99% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a n/a -18.12%
1997 1.96% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a n/a -16.12%
1996 1.69% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a n/a 15.83%
1995 2.00% - - 0.00% 0.00% n/a n/a 0.56%
1994 1.32% - - 0.00% 0.37% n/a n/a 9.81%

  • FY 2013 - Fund transitioned to the FTSE Emerging Index on 6/28/2013.
  • FY 2012 - Elimination of 2% transaction fee on redemptions of shares held < 2 mos. [6]
  • FY 2010 - Fund introduces admiral shares with lower $10,000 minimum investment.
  • FY 2008 - Fund removed from Total Market fund of funds, transition completed March 2009.
  • FY 2006 - Fund adds admiral shares, dividend annualized.
  • FY 2006 - Fund transitions to MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
  • FY 2005 - Fund introduces ETF shares, dividend annualized.
  • FY 2003 - Introduction of 2% transaction fee on redemptions of shares held < 2 mos.
  • FY 2002 - MSCI transitions to "free-float" market weighting.
  • FY 1994 - annualized dividend, fund inception.

Accounting data

The accounting figures and associated ratios (tables 4 and 5) can help one visualize some of the major determinants of a fund’s tendency to distribute taxable gains. These determining features include:

Turnover: The rate at which a fund manager sells securities within the fund has a major effect on potential gains realization. Single digit annual fund turnover percentages result in a low rate of realized gains. Similarly, fund shareholders' sales flows have major effects on a fund’s distribution tendencies. Net flows into the fund have the following effects:

  1. Constant inflows allow a fund manager to purchase a wide range of price lots for shares. The manager can select high basis shares when forced to sell a stock (this may realize a loss). The manager can also select low basis shares when redeeming a stock in-kind (a non-taxable transaction that can remove an unrealized gain out of the portfolio.) This redemption technique is primarily employed with institutional creation and redemption of ETF shares.[notes 3] Net inflows mean that shareholders are not forcing the manager to liquidate assets (and realize gains or losses) in order to meet redemptions. Large outflows can force such liquidation.
  2. A large and growing net asset base serves to diffuse any realized capital gains across a large base of shareholders and reduces the per share gain distribution. Large outflows have the opposite effect; any gains realized are spread across a smaller asset base and result in higher per share distributed gains. [7]

The level of unrealized gains and carryover realized losses in a fund: Index funds defer gains realization and often accumulate significant unrealized appreciation, which if distributed, would be taxed; thus the unrealized gain/loss figure shows the potential gain (or loss) that would be realized if the portfolio was to be entirely liquidated. Any loss carryovers a fund possesses can be used to offset future realized gains (carryovers have an eight year expiration period). The third tab on the Table 2. spreadsheet shows the data in percentage of total assets form.

In-kind redemption gains are included in the realized gains accounting. The second tab (tax attributes) in the Table 3. spreadsheet shows the true taxable net realized gain /loss for the fund. In kind redemption gains are added to the fund's cost basis.

Table 4.

(View Google Spreadsheet in browser, then File --> Download as to download the file.)

Definition of terms
Net sales/redemptions
This statistic reveals whether investors are net buyers or sellers of the fund.
Realized gain/loss
A realized capital gain/loss is an increase (or decrease) in the value of a security that is "real" because the security has been sold by the portfolio manager. The capital gains/losses are "realized" by the fund, and any distributions to the shareholder as a result of realized gains (adjusted for any realized losses) are taxable during the tax year in which the security was sold. Realized losses can be used to offset realized gains in an attempt to reduce taxable gains. If realized losses are higher than realized gains, a fund can "carry forward" these excess losses to offset future gains. In-kind redemption gains are included as gains in this statistic. As these gains are not taxable, they must be deducted from the realized/gain tally to reflect the net gain/loss for the year. (see tax attributes for the net gain computation).
Distributed gains
A net realized gain will be distributed to shareholders as a capital gains distribution.
Unrealized gain/loss
An unrealized capital gain/loss (also called a "paper profit or loss") is an increase (or decrease) in the value of a security that isn't "real" because the security hasn't been sold. When a portfolio manager sells a security, however, the capital gains/losses become "realized" by the fund, and any realized gains (net of any losses) are taxable during the tax year in which the security was sold. Funds with low turnover rates, such as index funds, tend to have more unrealized gains than actively managed funds and are less likely to pass taxable gains on to investors. A fund's unrealized appreciation or depreciation figures are valuable because they can give an idea of whether a fund would need to distribute any gains if all of its securities were sold. Such information may help you determine your potential exposure to taxable distributions.
This statistic is volatile, and will increase or decrease depending on market returns.
Loss carryforward
Realized losses can be “carried forward”, over a set span of years, to offset any future net realized gains.
In-kind redemptions
Instead of selling securities, a portfolio manager may elect to distribute securities in-kind to redeeming shareholders. Unlike a sale, an in-kind transfer is not taxable. This technique is frequently used in the ETF creation/redemption process. For institutional redemptions, a portfolio manager can select low-basis securities to transfer (removing the embedded tax liability) from the portfolio.


Reference article: Average net assets

Table 5.

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Definition of terms
Average net assets
Average net assets are derived from NSAR reports from the EDGAR database.
The dollar amount of fund shares sold by shareholders.
The dollar amount of fund shares bought by shareholders.
The rate at which the fund manager sells securities within the portfolio. The reciprocal of this number reflects the average holding period of the portfolio. Low turnover often results in low capital gains realization.
The redemptions/average net assets (R/ANA) ratio reflects how fund shareholders are turning over their holdings in the fund. It is analogous to the investment manager's turnover ratio.
The redemption/sales ratio (R/S) illustrates whether investors are net buyers or sellers of the fund. A ratio of less than 1 means that investors are net purchasers of the fund. A ratio more than one means investors are net sellers of the fund. The R/ANA and R/S ratios, viewed together, can signal market timing activity within a fund. For example a fund showing an R/ANA ratio of 400% and an R/S ratio of 1 (equal buys and sells) is likely being market timed by fund shareholders.

Tax rates

Mutual fund distributions will be taxed according to the tax laws governing the investment over the holding period of the investment, which are subject to change. The actual tax imposed will depend upon each individual's tax rate and the timing of purchases and sales. The federal tax rates applicable to mutual fund distributions and investor sales of securities for the period 2013 onward are outlined below. Keep in mind that investment income may also be subject to state and local taxation.

  1. Short-term capital gains distributions are made from realized gains on securities held for one year or less. Short-term gains are taxed at ordinary income tax rates up to 39.6%. Mutual fund short-term gain distributions are included in a fund's ordinary dividend distribution; therefore, capital losses may not be subtracted from these distributions when computing taxes.
  2. Long-term capital gains distributions are made from realized gains on securities held for more than one year. Long-term gains are taxed at 0% for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% tax brackets, at 15% for taxpayers in the 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% tax brackets, and at 20% in the 39,6% tax bracket. They are reported on tax Schedule D along with any other capital gains, and can be reduced by capital losses.
  3. Qualified dividends are the ordinary dividends [notes 4] that are subject to the same tax rate that applies to long-term capital gains. They should be shown in box 1b of the Form 1099-DIV you receive.
  4. When you sell at a loss you will either offset capital gains which would have otherwise been taxed at your capital gains rate or you will offset income (up to $3,000 maximum per year) which would have otherwise been taxed at your marginal income tax rate, or both. If you offset capital gains that would have otherwise not been taxed at all (because your capital gains tax rate is 0%) then this part of the tax loss harvest may be an outright loss.
  5. The Affordable Care Act imposes a Medicare surcharge of 3.8% on all net investment income (NII) once the taxpayer's adjusted gross income exceeds $200,000 (single) or $250,000 (married); while this tax is not part of the income tax, it has the same effect on investors as a higher tax rate. The NII tax begins to apply to individuals falling in the 33% tax bracket. Thus the top effective marginal tax rate is 23.8% on qualified dividends and long-term gains, 43.4% on ordinary investment income.

Federal Income Tax Rates in 2017[8]
Taxable income up to this level Tax rate
Single Married filing joint Head of Household Ordinary income Long-term gains and qualified dividends
$9,325 $18,650 $13,350 10% 0%
$37,950 $75,900 $50,800 15% 0%
$91,900 $153,100 $131,200 25% 15%
$191,650 $233,350 $212,500 28% 15%
$416,700 $416,700 $416,700 33% 15%
$418,400 $470,700 $444,550 35% 15%
above above above 39.6% 20%

In addition, there is a 3.8% Medicare tax rate on investment income in excess of an adjusted gross income of $200,000 ($250,000 for married filing jointly), and 0.9% on salary and self-employment income in excess of this level.

Tax analysis

The annual fund accounting figures indicate that the Vanguard Emerging Market Index Fund annual turnover ratio is consistently higher than the turnover realized by the European and Pacific index funds. Factors driving this higher turnover:

  1. The fund has experienced three structural shifts in the fund's underlying tracking index during its history. In 2002 MSCI adopted free float market weighting for its international indexes (2002 turnover 65%). In 2006 Vanguard shifted the fund's tracking index from a proprietary MSCI index to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (2006 turnover 26%). In 2013, the fund shifted to the FTSE Emerging Index.
  2. Stock migration in and out of the index affects turnover. As a large and mid cap index, the FTSE Emerging Index can have stocks reclassified as small cap stocks and removed from the index. A significant migration also occurs on a country level when a nation is reclassified among developed, emerging, and frontier markets. Table (3) documents the historical migrations into and out of the index. Malaysia (2000) and Argentina (2009) are the only countries to have been reclassified as frontier markets; all other migrations out of the portfolio have been to developed market indexes. Historically, the migration of markets has not resulted in the fund distributing a taxable gain to shareholders. However, a realized gain remains a possibility should one of the heavier weighted markets in the index (China, Brazil, or Taiwan) be reclassified as a developed market.

Table 7. Emerging Market Country Migration
Year Countries Added Countries Dropped
2016 Qatar, Greece
2015 Morocco
2010 Morocco, UAE Israel (developed)
2009 Argentina , South Korea (developed)
2006 Columbia, Egypt, Malaysia, Russia
2003 Chile, India, Peru
2002 China, Taiwan
2001 Greece (developed)
2000 South Korea Hong Kong (developed), Malaysia, Singapore (developed)
1999 Portugal (developed)
1997 Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, South Africa

Since inception of the ETF share class investors have flocked to the ETF, making it the largest emerging market ETF in the ETF market place. With the 2013 change in benchmark, however, the The ETF has experienced net outflows in 2013 and 2014. [notes 5]

Shareholder turnover, revealed in the Redemptions/Average Net Assets (R/ANA) metric, shows that prior to the introduction of the the ETF shareholders had historically turned over their holdings in the mutual fund shares at 10%-30% annual rates, suggesting average holding periods of between three and ten years. Since the advent of the ETF share class, the R/ANA ratio for mutual fund shares has increased. One element in this increase is share class conversion activity. Vanguard allows investors to convert mutual fund shares to ETF shares. These conversions are included in the mutual fund's redemption total (although no actual sale has transpired). A similar inflation in the R/ANA ratio takes place with investor share / admiral share conversion.

In 2010, investor share turnover also increased due to the policy decision to transform the Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund from a fund of funds to direct ownership of securities. The Emerging market mutual fund shares were removed from the holdings in the fund.

As table (4) indicates, the fund has frequently realized net capital losses during its fiscal years (often during years of positive market gains) and, as a result, has always maintained, and steadily increased, its loss carryforward. [Refer to the second tab (Table 4.) for the actual realized net loss in the fund, adjusted for in kind redemption gains].

The following table presents the federal tax cost on the fund's historical distributions (see second tab, table 6.) under the tax regime beginning in 2013 (with dividends and long term capital gains taxed at 0%, 15% and 20% depending on tax bracket, and an additional 3.8% ACA Net Investment Income tax imposed on higher tax brackets). Keep in mind that distributions can also be subject to state and local taxation, with marginal rates ranging from 0% to 12% (an average 5% state tax rate will add an approximate 0.11% to the annual tax cost of holding the fund.) The average is based on the results from 2004-2013, the period comprising the qualified dividend tax regime. The 2004- 2014 average dividend yield is close to the long term (1994 forward) fund average yield. The fund distributed capital gains during the 1994-2003 period, averaging 0.00% per annum short term gains, 0.04% per annum long term gains.

The table does not include the capital gains cost associated with selling the fund at a gain.[notes 6]

Table 8.

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  1. The foreign tax credit is estimated from annual reports and EDGAR NSAR reports by:
    1. Dividing the foreign tax paid by the average net assets of the fund.
  2. When a fund redeems ETF shares, it prepares a basket of securities that it exchanges in-kind to an institutional investor. The basket often includes a modest cash component for exact settlement. An astute ETF manager can use this as an opportunity to raise cash by selling some high basis stock for a realized loss.
  3. Fairmark says:

    A portion of your ordinary dividend may be nonqualified because it can include items like these:

    • Taxable interest. When a mutual fund receives taxable interest, the income gets paid out as a dividend. It's a dividend when it goes out of the mutual fund, but it wasn't a dividend when it came into the mutual fund, so it can't be a qualified dividend.
    • Nonqualified dividends. Your mutual fund may receive dividends that are nonqualified. For example, the mutual fund may sell shares just 35 days after buying them, but after receiving a dividend. The mutual fund has to hold the shares at least 61 days to have a qualified dividend. Any amount the mutual fund receives as a nonqualified dividend gets paid to you as a nonqualified dividend.
    • Short-term capital gain. When a mutual fund has a short-term capital gain, it pays this amount to the mutual fund shareholders as an ordinary dividend.
    • Holding mutual fund shares less than 61 days. You should also be aware that any dividend you receive on mutual fund shares held less than 61 days is a nonqualified dividend, even if the mutual fund reports that amount to you as a qualified dividend. You don't have to buy the shares 61 days before the dividend is paid, but the total amount of time you hold the shares (including time before and after the dividend) has to be at least 61 days.
  4. Almost all of the dividends distributed by Equity REITS come in the form of non-qualified dividends. Non-qualified dividends are taxed at marginal income tax rates.

  5. The fund has experienced strong growth of the ETF share class, which makes up about 70% of fund total assets:
  6. This table indicates the additional cost for the capital-gains tax when you sell, assuming that you pay taxes on the distribution and reinvest the after-tax portion of the distribution; since it is a one-time cost, the effect is annualized. For example, if you hold an investment for 30 years and lose 10% to taxes when you sell, that is equivalent to losing 0.35% every year. Thus, if you sell the fund, your cost will be the sum of the Table 8 and Table 11 costs. However, you would not pay the Table 11 cost on any stock which you either leave to your heirs or donate to charity, and thus may not pay that cost on your full investment. In particular, you might estimate your total tax cost by using the low-return line in Table 11; if stock returns are high, you will have a large taxable account and will reduce the tax cost by taking longer to deplete it or by not spending it all during your lifetime. Taxes are computed at a tax rate of 15% on long-term gains (except in the "rate rises to 20% column", which applies if that tax reduction is allowed to expire), and on qualified dividends (except in the "no QDI" column, which applies if the tax reduction on qualified dividends expires and the rate is 35%). The foreign tax credit is added to the dividend yield before computing taxes; for example, if a fund had $100 withheld in foreign taxes on dividends, and you pay $20 in taxes on the withheld dividends, you get a $100 credit for a net benefit of $80. Although not tabulated, keep in mind that investors in the lower tax brackets (15% or lower) pay lower federal tax rates on investment income for the period 2003 - 2012, and reap higher after-tax returns, outside of tax-exempt municipal bonds, in all asset classes.
    Table 11. Additional hypothetical tax costs (after taxable funds are sold)
    Fund Pre-tax Returns Distributions Tax Cost Annualized cost over 10 years Annualized cost over 20 years Annualized cost over 30 years 30-year cost if CG tax rate rises to 20%
    Any bond any all any 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
    Tax-efficient stock, low returns 5.00% 2.00% 0.30% 0.36% 0.30% 0.25% 0.33%
    Tax-efficient stock, medium returns 8.00% 2.00% 0.30% 0.63% 0.47% 0.37% 0.50%
    Tax-efficient stock, high returns 11.00% 2.00% 0.30% 0.84% 0.58% 0.43% 0.58%
    Tax-inefficient stock, low returns 5.00% 4.00% 1.00% 0.12% 0.10% 0.09% 0.12%
    Tax-inefficient stock, medium returns 8.00% 4.00% 1.00% 0.43% 0.33% 0.26% 0.35%
    Tax-inefficient stock, high returns 11.00% 4.00% 1.00% 0.66% 0.47% 0.35% 0.47%

See also


  1. Suitable fund options for tax harvesting are available at Altruist Financial Advisors LLC Emerging Market Funds
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dividend data is derived from the EDGAR N-CSR reports back to 2003; EDGAR N-30D reports back to 1993
  3. 3.0 3.1 Capital Gains are derived from annual reports, and are calculated by dividing the dollar amount capital gain distribution by the average net assets of the fund.
  4. Data derived from Vanguard site.
  5. Data derived from annual reports.
  6. More Vanguard funds eliminate or reduce fees, Viewed 11/10/2012.
  7. Larry E. Swedroe, What Wall Street Doesn’t Want You To Know, 2001, pp.227-28. ISBN 0312335725
  8. "Revenue Procedure 2016-55" (pdf). IRS. p. 7. Retrieved 01 November 2016.

External links