What are Dividends? Everything You Need to Know

Dividends are a share of a company's profits distributed to its shareholders. This distribution is often made on a regular basis, typically quarterly, and can be in the form of cash or additional shares of stock. Essentially, dividends are a way for companies to reward investors for holding their stock.

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • The different types of dividends
  • How dividends are paid out
  • Why companies issue dividends
  • How dividends can be a part of your investment strategy

Table of Content

A text definition of a dividend, stating it's a share of a company's profits given to shareholders, usually in cash or stock.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dividends are a share of a company's profits paid out to shareholders, typically on a regular basis.
  • They can be an important source of income for investors, particularly those seeking regular cash flow.
  • While dividends can be an attractive feature, it's crucial to consider a company's overall financial health and growth potential when investing.

Types of Dividends

There are several types of dividends a company can distribute:

  • Cash dividends: The most common type, paid out in cash directly to shareholders.
  • Stock dividends: Instead of cash, shareholders receive additional shares of stock. This can be thought of as a stock split.
  • Property dividends: Rarer, but companies may distribute physical assets or shares in a subsidiary company as dividends.
  • Special dividends: One-time, non-recurring payments issued under specific circumstances.

How Dividends Work

The process of dividend distribution involves a few key steps:

  1. Declaration date: The company's board of directors announces the dividend amount, the payment date, and the record date.
  2. Ex-dividend date: The first day the stock trades without the dividend. If you buy the stock on or after this date, you won't receive the upcoming dividend.
  3. Record date: The date on which the company identifies the shareholders who will receive the dividend.
  4. Payment date: The date the dividend is paid out to shareholders.

Why Companies Issue Dividends

Companies issue dividends for a variety of reasons:

  • Attracting investors: Regular dividends can signal financial stability and attract income-focused investors.
  • Returning profits to shareholders: Dividends are a direct way to share company profits with the owners of the company (the shareholders).
  • Tax benefits: In some countries, dividends can offer tax advantages to both companies and investors.

Dividends and Your Investment Strategy

Dividends can be an integral part of a diversified investment portfolio, particularly for those seeking regular income. However, they are just one factor to consider alongside a company's overall financial health, growth potential, and industry outlook.

For those concerned about cost, dividends from stocks can provide passive income. If you're looking for a professional to guide you through the ins and outs of incorporating dividend-paying stocks into your investment strategy, consider consulting with a financial advisor.


This guide has offered a comprehensive overview of dividends. For those seeking to deepen their understanding, we recommend exploring our guide on stock market investing, which dives into stock market basics and its implications for your financial future.

Dividend FAQs

What are dividends paid on?

Dividends are paid on shares of stock in a company. If you own shares in a company that pays dividends, you're entitled to receive a portion of the profits the company distributes.

Do you have to pay tax on dividends?

In many jurisdictions, dividends are considered taxable income. However, the tax rates on dividends can vary depending on the type of dividend and your individual tax situation. It's always advisable to consult a tax professional for specific guidance on dividend taxation.

How do you make money from dividends?

There are two main ways to make money from dividends. First, you receive regular cash payments from the company, which can provide a steady income stream. Second, some companies offer dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs), allowing you to automatically use your dividends to purchase additional shares, potentially accelerating your investment growth over time.