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Many individuals rely on their investments to deliver steady cash flow to support their retirement or other income needs. However, amid a historically low interest-rate environment, this can be challenging. Fortunately, by investing in solutions that include return of capital (ROC), creating a reliable stream of cash flow doesn’t have to be complicated.

Stocks and bonds generate cash flows in different ways. Stocks may pay dividends and, as they appreciate, they also generate capital gains that are realized when you sell them. Bonds can also generate capital gains and are a good source of interest income. When buying these securities through a mutual fund, you would receive a mixture of interest income, dividends and capital gains. These cash flows may fluctuate month over month or fall short of the cash flow you’re seeking. But certain mutual funds include ROC as part of their monthly payout to unitholders, allowing for a more predictable, tax-efficient stream of cash flow.

ROC is a tax term used to describe distributions paid to unitholders that are in excess of a fund’s earnings (i.e., interest income, dividends and capital gains). For tax purposes, ROC represents a return to investors of a portion of their own invested capital in the form of a non-taxable distribution. However, these distributions also lower investors’ adjusted cost base (ACB), which may increase capital gains or reduce capital losses when they eventually sell their units.

This video offers a clear explanation of ROC and demonstrates its benefits for investors

Cash flow stability

Funds that distribute ROC are appealing for investors seeking regular cash flow from their portfolios.

Tax efficiency

Unlike interest, dividends and capital gains, ROC is not taxable in the year it is received.

Tax deferral

Any capital gains on amounts distributed as ROC can be deferred until the investment is sold, maximizing current cash flow and providing added control over when a client has to pay tax.

For more information on return of capital and adjusted cost base, please contact your advisor. 


Last reviewed: January 1, 2023

This has been provided by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM) and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and such information should not be relied upon for providing such advice.