by Megan Stals

What is a dividend reinvestment plan (DRP)?

Dividend reinvestment is one of the keys for success as an investor. Learn how to do it automatically through a dividend reinvestment plan (DRP).

What is a dividend reinvestment plan?

A dividend reinvestment plan (DRP) is a program offered by companies that allow shareholders to automatically reinvest their cash dividends into additional shares of the company's stock, purchasing shares instead of receiving the dividends in cash. It enables shareholders to accumulate more shares, potentially increasing their overall investment value.

In a dividend reinvestment plan, when a company declares a dividend, shareholders who participate in the program receive additional shares proportional to the dividends they would have received in cash. These additional shares are typically purchased directly from the company or its transfer agent, eliminating the need for shareholders to find a buyer on the open market to buy shares. The number of additional shares is determined based on the dividend amount and the current market price of the company's stock.

DRPs offer several advantages to investors. 

  • They provide a convenient and automated way to reinvest dividends without incurring transaction costs. 
  • By accumulating additional shares, investors can benefit from compounding returns over time, potentially increasing their overall investment value.
  • DRPs can help investors dollar-cost average their investments, as the reinvestment occurs regularly regardless of the stock's market price. This strategy can reduce the impact of market volatility on the average cost per share.

Note: A dividend reinvestment plan is often referred to as DRP or DRIP.

🎓 Learn more: Getting started with Dividend Investing

How does DRIP investing work?

DRIP investing, or dividend reinvestment plan investing, allows shareholders to automatically reinvest their dividends into additional shares of a company's stock. Investors that are actively engaged with DRIP investing are looking for securities that will allow them to enrol into a dividend reinvestment scheme, accumulating additional shares over time.

The process of DRIP investing is typically automated. Once a shareholder enrols in a company's dividend reinvestment plan, the dividends declared by the company's share registry are automatically used to purchase additional shares on the shareholder's behalf. This reinvestment can occur at regular intervals, such as quarterly or annually, depending on the company's dividend schedule.

Example of a dividend reinvestment plan

A hypothetical example of a dividend reinvestment plan (DRP) would be as follows:

John is a shareholder in XYZ Corporation. The company announces a dividend payment of $0.50 per share. John holds 1,000 shares in the company. He is given the option to either receive a cash payment of $500 or participate in the DRP.

John decides to enrol in the DRP and chooses to reinvest his dividends in the same company. The company's DRP allows the reinvestment of dividends at the current market price of $20 per share. As a result, on the dividend payment date, John's $500 dividend is used to purchase 25 additional shares of XYZ Corporation's stock ($500 ÷ $20 = 25 shares).

After the dividend is paid, John receives 25 new shares in XYZ Corporation, bringing his total shareholding to 1,025 shares. The reinvested dividend is treated as if John received the cash dividend and used it to buy the additional shares.

For tax purposes, John must report the $500 dividend as income on his tax return. The cost basis of the 25 new shares is also $500, which represents the amount of the dividend used to acquire them. If John decides to sell these reinvested shares in the future, any capital gain or loss will be calculated based on the difference between their selling price and the $500 cost basis to purchase the shares.

🎓 Learn more: Tax implications on shares and dividends

What are the benefits of a dividend investment plan?

Dividend investment plans (DRPs) offer several benefits to investors:

  • Compounding returns: By reinvesting dividends into additional shares, DRPs enable investors to compound their returns over time. The additional shares purchased through the reinvestment process generate their own dividends, which are then reinvested again. This compounding effect can potentially lead to accelerated growth in the overall investment value.
  • Cost efficiency: DRPs typically allow shareholders to reinvest dividends without incurring transaction costs. Since the reinvestment occurs directly with the company or its transfer agent, investors can avoid brokerage fees or commissions that would be associated with purchasing additional shares on the open market.
  • Dollar-cost averaging: DRPs provide a disciplined approach to investing by automatically reinvesting dividends at regular intervals, regardless of the stock's market price. This practice allows investors to buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high, potentially reducing the impact of market volatility. Dollar-cost averaging helps to smooth out the average cost per share over time.
  • Increased share ownership: DRPs allow investors to accumulate more shares of a company's stock over time. This increased share ownership can lead to enhanced participation in the company's future growth and potentially higher dividend payments. The reinvested dividends enable shareholders to increase their stake in the business without the need for additional capital outlay.
  • Long-term wealth creation: DRPs are particularly beneficial for long-term investors focused on wealth creation. By consistently reinvesting dividends and compounding returns over an extended period, investors have the opportunity to grow their investments steadily. This can be advantageous for retirement planning or other long-term financial goals.

It's important to note that while DRPs offer these advantages, they may not be suitable for all investors. Each DRP has its own terms and conditions, including fees, restrictions, and tax implications.

Cons of dividend reinvestment plans

While dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs) offer benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks or considerations to be aware of:

  • Lack of flexibility: Participating in a DRP means that dividends are automatically reinvested into additional shares, leaving investors with limited control over how the cash dividends are used. If an investor prefers to receive cash for immediate needs or to invest in other opportunities, a DRP may not provide the desired flexibility.
  • Tax considerations: Although DRPs can offer tax advantages in terms of deferring taxes on reinvested dividends until shares are sold, there are still tax obligations to be aware of. Investors must report the dividends as income in the year they are received, even though they are reinvested. Additionally, when the reinvested shares are eventually sold, capital gains tax may apply.
  • Administrative burden: DRPs require investors to keep track of the cost basis of each reinvested share, as it determines the capital gains or losses when those shares are sold. This can create additional administrative complexity and record-keeping responsibilities for investors, especially if they hold shares in multiple companies with DRPs.
  • Lack of diversification: Participating in a DRP of a single company means that a significant portion of the investment remains concentrated in that one stock. This lack of diversification can expose investors to heightened risk if the company's performance declines or experiences adverse events. It's important to consider diversification strategies within an overall investment portfolio.
  • Potential for overvaluation: DRPs automatically reinvest dividends into the company's stock, regardless of its current valuation. If the stock becomes overvalued, reinvesting dividends at inflated prices may not be advantageous for investors. A careful evaluation of the company's fundamentals and market conditions is necessary to assess whether continued participation in the DRP remains a wise investment decision.

It's crucial for investors to thoroughly research and understand the terms, fees, and potential drawbacks of specific DRIPs before enrolling.

🎓 Learn more: How to research stocks

🎓 Learn more: How to determine if a stock is undervalued or overvalued?

How do I reinvest dividends in Australia?

In Australia, there are a few ways to reinvest dividends:

  • Company-operated dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs): Many companies in Australia offer their own Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRPs). To participate, you usually need to complete an application form provided by the company, indicating your intention to reinvest your dividends. The company will then automatically reinvest the dividends by issuing additional shares in your name.
  • Broker-operated dividend reinvestment plans: Some brokerage firms in Australia offer Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRPs) on behalf of their clients. If your brokerage offers this service, you can usually opt into the DRP through your brokerage account. The brokerage will handle the reinvestment process and allocate additional shares to your account.
  • Managed funds: Another option is to invest in managed funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that have dividend reinvestment features. These funds automatically reinvest the dividends they receive from their underlying investments into additional units of the fund, effectively compounding your investment.
  • Share registry-operated plans: Some share registries in Australia, such as Link Market Services or Computershare, offer dividend reinvestment facilities. You can contact the share registry that manages your shares to inquire about their dividend reinvestment options and the process for enrolling in their plan.

It's important to note that the availability and terms of dividend reinvestment options can vary between companies and brokers. Before deciding to reinvest dividends, carefully review the specific terms and conditions of the plan, including any fees or other transaction costs associated with participation.

Dividend reinvestment plan FAQs

Is a dividend reinvestment plan a good idea?

Whether a dividend reinvestment plan (DRP) is a good idea depends on an individual investor's financial goals, investment strategy, and personal preferences. DRPs can be beneficial for long-term investors seeking compounding returns and cost efficiency. However, they may not be suitable for those needing cash dividends or desiring more control over dividend income.

Do you pay tax on reinvested dividends in Australia?

Yes, in Australia, you are required to pay tax on reinvested dividends. Reinvested dividends are treated as assessable income and should be included in your tax return for the relevant financial year. Learn more about the capital gains tax you need to pay on shares and dividends.

Do all stocks pay dividends?

No, not all stocks pay dividends. Some stocks, particularly growth-oriented or early-stage companies, may choose to reinvest their earnings back into the business rather than distribute them to shareholders as dividends. These stocks typically focus on capital appreciation, with the aim of increasing the stock's value over time. If you are interested in DRPs, check out some ASX dividend stocks.

Portrait photo of Megan Stals, Market Analyst at Stake.

Megan Stals

Market Analyst

Megan is a markets analyst at Stake, with 7 years of experience in the world of investing and a Master’s degree in Business and Economics from The University of Sydney Business School. Megan has extensive knowledge of the UK markets, working as an analyst at ARCH Emerging Markets - a UK investment advisory platform focused on private equity. Previously she also worked as an analyst at Australian robo advisor Stockspot, where she researched ASX listed equities and helped construct the company's portfolios.


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