Special Dividends: "Due Bill" Process

In some cases, special dividends may have different rules than regular dividends concerning the ex-dividend date. If a special dividend is less than 25% of the stock price, standard rules apply regarding the ex-dividend date (ex-date is before the record and pay date). However, if a special dividend is greater than 25% of the stock price*, the ex-dividend date will be after the record date and pay date.

In the case of a regular dividend or a special dividend of less than 25% of the share price, one would need to own a stock by the record date in order to be entitled to the dividend. However, this is not the case for special dividends that are more than 25% of the stock price. If one were to sell a stock after the record date but before the ex-dividend date, they would no longer be entitled to the dividend. The shares would be tagged with something called a "due bill" which means that the seller is obligated to pay the dividend to the buyer. Likewise, if one were to buy a stock after the record date but before the ex-dividend date (and hold it through the ex-date), they would be entitled to the dividend from the seller.

*Please note, the 25% or more rule is a general rule and will not apply in all cases. Certain foreign stock dividends will not follow the rule and some domestic stocks are granted an exclusion. For information regarding regular dividends, please reference KB 47.
 

Overview of T+2 Settlement

Introduction

Effective September 5, 2017, the standard settlement period for securities traded on U.S. and Canadian exchanges will be reduced from 3 business days (T+3) to 2 business days (T+2). Background information regarding this change, its projected impact and a list of FAQs are outlined below.
 
Background
Settlement is a post-trade process whereby legal ownership of securities is transferred from the seller to the purchaser in exchange for payment.  This process is facilitated via a central depository which maintains security ownership records and a clearinghouse which processes the exchange of funds and instructs the depository to transfer ownership of the securities. For U.S. securities, the Depository Trust Company (DTC) operates as the primary depository and the National Securities Clearing Corporation (NSCC), the clearinghouse. The Canadian Depository for Securities (CDS) performs these functions for Canadian securities. The current settlement cycle for both U.S. and Canadian securities is 3 business days following the trade date.
 
Why is the settlement period changing?
Operational efficiencies afforded by registering securities ownership in an electronic form and the ease and low cost by which clients may transfer funds electronically are critical factors enabling the shortening of the settlement cycle. The settlement cycle was last reduced from 5 business days to 3 in 1995 and transactions involving the delivery of physical certificates or payment via check continue to decline.
 
Shortening the settlement cycle is expected to yield the following benefits for the industry and its participants:
 
  • Lessens risk to the financial system – the likelihood that the price of a given security will change increases over time and reducing the settlement day lessens exposure to credit risk due to non-payment or non-delivery of that security. By reducing the notional value of outstanding obligations in the settlement pipeline, the financial sector is better protected from the potential systemic consequences of serious market disruptions. 
  • Cash deployment efficiencies – clients who maintain “Cash” type accounts are subject to restrictions which may preclude them from trading with unsettled funds (i.e., “Free-Riding” or buying and selling a security without paying for it). With T+2, funds from the sale of a security will now be available 1 business day earlier, thereby providing quicker access to funds and the ability to redeploy them sooner for subsequent purchases. 
  • Enhanced global settlement harmonization - the transition to a T+2 settlement cycle will align the U.S. and Canadian markets with other major international markets in Europe and Asia that currently operate in a T+2 environment.
 
What products are impacted by this change?
U.S. and Canadian stocks, ETFs, ADRs, corporate bonds, municipal bonds, CFDs, and unit investment trusts (UITs)
 
How will this change impact my account?
Dividends & corporate actions – securities must be purchased prior to the Ex-Date for entitlement to dividends or other rights associated with the security.    Under the current T+3 settlement cycle, the Ex-Date is typically 2 business days prior to the Record Date and this relationship will be reduced to 1 business day under T+2.
 
Short sale transactions – brokers are required under SEC Rule 204 to close out short sales if unable to borrow securities and make delivery at settlement. Currently, close out must take place by no later than the beginning of regular trading hours on T+4.  With the shortening of the settlement cycle to T+2, close out will be moved up 1 business day to T+3.
 
T+2 Order Destination – IB currently offers an order destination (TPLUS2) which allows covered call writers to purchase and deliver, upon assignment, shares having a more favorable cost basis. This T+2 order, which reduces the possibility of triggering an unwanted capital gains tax, will be amended to T+1 delivery in order to provide the same benefits.  Note that this T+2 order destination will be disabled prior to September 5, 2017 and the T+1 order destination enabled shortly after that date (i.e., there will be a transition period during which this accelerated settlement order destination will not be offered).
 
Option Exercise – The delivery period for stock and payment of cash resulting from the exercise of stock options will be reduced from 3 business days to 2.
 
Interest paid on credit balances – interest computations are based upon settled cash balances. If you purchase stock and have sufficient cash to pay for the purchase in full (i.e., no margin loan), the proceeds necessary to pay for that stock are currently eligible to earn interest up until T+3 at which point they are remitted to the clearinghouse. That interest earning period will be reduced by 1 business day under T+2. Note, however, that when that security is sold the funds settle to your account 1 business day earlier under T+2 and are then eligible to earn interest. 
 
Interest charged on debit balances – interest computations are based upon settled cash balances. If you purchase stock and borrow funds to pay for the purchase (i.e., a margin loan), interest is not charged on the loan until payment is remitted to the clearinghouse on T+3. That loan date will start 1 business day earlier under T+2. Note, however, that when that security is sold, the proceeds are credited to your account and will partially or fully pay of the loan 1 business day earlier under T+2.   
 
FAQs

Will the settlement for purchases and sales of options, futures or futures options contracts change?

No. These products currently settle on T+1 and that settlement cycle will not change.

 
Will the settlement for purchases and sales of mutual funds change?
No. All mutual funds offered by IB currently settle on T+1 and that settlement cycle will not change.
 
Will this change have any impact upon the cash or assets required to initiate an order?
No. All orders are currently pre-checked prior to submission to ensure that the account will be compliant were the order to execute. In the cash of cash accounts, that means that the account must have the necessary settled cash on hand to meet the settlement regardless of T+3 or T+2.  Similarly, in the case of margin accounts, the account must have the necessary Excess Equity to remain margin compliant. This safeguard will not change under T+2.
 
Will this change have any impact upon the timeframe by which securities are transferred via ACATS or ATON?
No. Transfer processes will not be impacted by the move from T+3 to T+2.

Withholding Tax on Dividend Equivalent Payments - FAQs

Background

Beginning January 1, 2017, new IRS regulations will impose U.S. withholding taxes on US dividend equivalent payments to non-US persons holding derivative positions on US equities. Previously, US withholding tax was not imposed on these payments. The regulations require intermediaries, such as us, to act as withholding agents and collect US tax on behalf of the IRS. An overview of the tax, how it’s determined and the products impacted is provided below.
 
Overview
What is the purpose of the regulation?
The regulation derives from Section 871(m) of the Internal Revenue Code and is intended to harmonize the US tax treatment imposed on non-U.S. persons with respect to dividends on U.S. stock and dividend equivalent payments paid on derivative contracts that replicate (to a high degree) ownership of such stock.
 
An example of this would be a total return swap having IBM as its underlying.  A non-U.S. person holding an IBM stock position would be subject to a 30% US withholding tax (reduced by treaty) on dividend payments. On the other hand prior to the implementation of Section 871(m), a non-U.S. person holding long exposure to IBM on the swap could receive payments equivalent to the dividends without imposition of U.S. withholding tax. This was the case even though the payments replicated similar economic exposure. Section 871(m) now considers those ‘dividend equivalent payments’ subject to US withholding tax.
 
What is a dividend equivalent payment?
A dividend equivalent payment is any gross amount that references the payment of a dividend on a U.S. equity and that is used to compute any net amount transferred to or from the long party, even if the long party make a net payment to the short party or the net payment is zero. Accordingly, such payments would include not only an actual payment in lieu of a dividend but also an estimated dividend payment that is implicitly taken into account in computing one or more of the terms of the transaction, including interest rate, notional amount or purchase price.
 
In the case of a listed call option on a U.S. stock, for example, the holder of the call is not entitled to receive a dividend unless the option is exercised prior to the dividend ex-date. Nonetheless, the premium paid by the holder to purchase the option implicitly takes into account the present value of the expected dividends over the option term.[1] Since this factor serves to lower the payment from the option buyer to the seller, it is viewed as a dividend equivalent payment potentially subject to the rules.
 
Who is subject to the dividend equivalent withholding tax?
The tax applies to qualifying positions held in an account of a non-U.S. taxpayer. It does not apply to U.S. taxpayers. Accounts of non-U.S. taxpayers generally are evidenced by the submission of an IRS Form W-8 and can include the following account types: individual, joint, organization and trust.
 
What derivative instruments potentially are subject to the dividend equivalent withholding tax?
The regulations adopt a two-part test to determine if a derivative instrument is subject to the rules. First, the derivative instruments must reference the dividend on a U.S. equity security. Examples include:
-          equity options
-          regulated single stock futures
-          regulated index futures and options on index futures
-          structured and exchange traded notes
-          CFD contracts
-          convertible bonds
-          securities lending transactions
-          derivatives on custom baskets and
-          warrants
 
If the underlying position is a U.S. equity. The exchange upon which the instrument is traded and the identity of the counterparty do not affect the application of the rules. That is, a derivative can be subject to the rules, whether it is exchange listed or over the counter or trades in the United States or overseas.
 
Second, the derivative instrument must substantially replicate the economics of the underlying U.S. equity at the time of issuance. The rules look to delta (for simple contracts) and a substantially equivalency test (for complex contracts) to make this determination.
 
Delta is a correlation measurement that computes the ratio of the change in the fair market value of the derivative instrument to a change in the fair market value of the U.S. equity referenced by the derivative.  In general, for purposes of this regulation, delta is only determined once over the life of the derivative instrument – at the time it is ‘issued’. It is not recomputed as the fair market value of the underlying security changes or when the derivative instrument is re-sold in the secondary market.
 
For most contracts, the rules are as follows:
·         Pre-2017 – a derivative instrument issued prior to January 1, 2017 (i.e., anything held by a customer with us on December 31, 2016) is not subject to the new withholding tax rules.
·         2017 - a derivative instrument issued in 2017 is potentially subject to the new withholding tax regime if the delta at the time of issuance is 1.0.
·         After 2017 – a derivative instrument issued after December 31, 2017 is potentially subject to the new withholding tax rules if the delta at the time of issuance is 0.8 or greater.
If the derivative is classified as “complex,” the delta test does not apply and instead the substantial equivalency test applies. 
 
So When Is a Derivative Instrument Issued?
Identified when a derivative instrument is issued is very important. It determines if the instrument is subject to the rules (pre-2017 issued instruments are not) and when the delta computation is made. In general, an instrument is ‘issued’ when it comes into existence, its inception date or date of original issuance. Instruments are not issued when re-sold in the secondary market.
 
As a result, there are differences in the issuance rules for listed options, futures, other exchange traded products and over-the-counter products. For example, a listed option traded on a US exchange, generally, is not issued when first listed by an exchange as available for trading. Instead, the listed option is issued (delta determined) when the option is entered into by the customer. On the other hand, for transferable derivatives, such as exchange traded notes, convertible bonds and warrants, they would be issued only when first sold. The delta determined at that time would carryover when sold to a subsequent purchaser. 
 
Are There Any Exceptions?
The rules do provide limited exceptions to withholding. These include:
•        a derivative instrument that references a “qualified index” - generally, a passive broad publicly available index on U.S. equities such as the S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 or Russell 2000.
•        a derivative instrument that references an index with little or no U.S. equity composition – such as the Hang Seng Index.
•        if the dividend equivalent payment (or portion thereof) would not be subject to U.S. withholding tax if the non-US person owned the underlying security directly. This most often will occur for derivative instruments on U.S. mutual funds, REITs and exchange traded funds that pay ‘dividends’ which are re-characterized as capital gain distributions or returns of capital.
 
Can you provide some examples of when the rules will or will not apply?
•        Customer purchases single stock futures on IBM on January 2, 2017. The delta of the future is 1.0. The future is subject to the rule.
•        Customer purchases a deep in the money OCC listed option on IBM on December 28, 2016. The delta of the future is 1.0. The option is not subject to the rule as it was issued prior to 2017.
•        Customer purchases index future on a narrow based index on January 15, 2017. Assume the index is not a ‘qualified index.’ The future is subject to the rule.
•        Customer purchases an exchange trade note that tracks U.S. equities on January 2, 2017 with a delta of 1.0. The note was issued on July 1, 2016. The option is not subject to the rule as it was issued prior to 2017
 
How is the dividend equivalent withholding computed?
If the derivative instrument is subject to the new Section 871(m), a dividend equivalent payment with respect to such instrument equals the per share dividend on the underlying U.S. equity, multiplied by the number of underlying shares referenced by the instrument, multiplied by the delta (e.g., an option contract delivering 100 shares of a stock paying $1.00 dividend and having a delta of .80 would be subject to a tax based upon $80.00 dividend equivalent payment).
 
In the case of a complex derivative contract, the dividend equivalent will be equal to the per share dividend on the underlying, multiplied by the contract’s hedge equivalent to the underlying as calculated when the contract was issued.
 
How are contracts combined for purposes of determining delta?
Starting in 2018, customers who purchase derivative instrument such as a long call having a delta below the .80 threshold and selling a put on the same underlying and same share quantity within 2 days of one another will have those positions combined for the purpose of determining whether the threshold has been exceeded (e.g., the purchase of a long call with a delta of 0.60 coupled with the sale of a put with a delta of .40 would result in a long delta of 1.0).
 
In 2017, only over-the-counter instruments are potentially subject to combination to create a delta 1.0 instrument. 
 
What information do we provide to inform clients about impacted positions?
To minimize exposure to the withholding tax, we intend to provide a TWS warning message will be provided when non-U.S. persons create an order that could generate the tax. This will give customers the option of canceling the order to avoid potential withholding or submitting the order and possibly paying the tax when a dividend occurs. Customers may avoid the potential withholding tax by not owning the derivative on the applicable withholding date (i.e., generally the dividend Record Date).
 
 

IMPORTANT NOTE: We do not provide tax, legal or financial advice. Each customer must speak with the customer’s own advisors to determine the impact that the Section 871(m) rules may have on the customer’s trading activity.


[1] While the holder of the call option does not receive a dividend, the premium paid by the holder for the option implicitly takes expected dividends into account (i.e., because the stock price is expected to drop by the amount of the dividend on the ex-dividend date, cash dividends imply lower call premiums).

Dividend Accruals

If you are a shareholder of record as of the close of business on a dividend Record Date (see KB47), you are entitled to receive the dividend on its Payment Date.  While the actual dividend amount is not assured until the payment has been made by the issuer on the Payment Date, information deemed reliable is available such that IB will accrue the value of the dividend, net of any withholding taxes, on the Ex-Date.   This information can be confirmed via the Daily Activity Statement posted to Account Management. The details of the accrual will be reflected in the statement section titled "Change in Dividend Accruals" and the net amount in a line item titled "Dividend Accruals" under the "Net Asset Value" section. If you wish to see information regarding dividends that you held through the Ex Date but which have not yet been paid out, choose "Legacy Full" from the Statements drop down when launching your statement. This will include an additional section called "Open Dividend Accruals" which will give you information on any pending dividends.

Note that dividend accruals may be either a debit (if short and borrowing the stock on the Record Date) or a credit (if long the stock on the Record date). In terms of account valuation, the dividend accrual is included in Equity with Loan Value as well as equity for purposes of determining compliance with the Pattern day Trading rules. A dividend credit accrual does not increase Available Funds and can therefore not be withdrawn until paid. A dividend accrual which is a debit does reduce Available Funds to ensure that funds are available to meet the obligation when payment is due.

Overview of IBKR's Dividend Reinvestment Program (DRIP)

IBKR offers a dividend reinvestment program whereby accountholders may elect to reinvest qualifying cash dividends to purchase shares in the issuing company. Outlined below are a series of FAQs which describe the program and its operation.

1. How can I participate in the program?
Requests to participate are initiated online via Client Portal or Account Management. The menu options vary by account type and are outlined below:
 

• Individual, Joint, Trust, IRA, Small Business Accounts – select Settings followed by Account Settings. In the Configuration panel, click the Configure (gear) icon for Dividend Reinvestment. Read the agreement, type your signature in the field provided and click Subscribe.


• Proprietary Trading Group STL Master User - select the Manage Traders, Traders and then View menu options. Enable automatic reinvestment for an individual trading sub account by clicking the blue pen icon in the Dividend Reinvestment column.


• Advisor and Broker Master Users - select the Manage Clients and then Dashboard menu options. On the Dashboard, click the account row for the desired client account to open the Client Account Details page. Enable dividend reinvestment by clicking the Edit link in the Account Configuration section.
Once enabled, you’ll be provided with an acknowledgement requiring entry of your electronic signature in order to click the Continue button. Automatic dividend reinvestment will be effective the next business day.

 

2. What accounts are eligible to participate in IBKR's Dividend Reinvestment Program?
Dividend Reinvestment is available to IB LLC, IB CAN and IB UK clients only.


3. Which securities are eligible for dividend reinvestment?
Only U.S. and Canada-listed common and preferred stocks paying cash dividends are eligible for reinvestment.


4. When does reinvestment occur?
If you are a shareholder of record as of the close of the dividend record date (see KB47) and enrolled in the dividend reinvestment program prior to the dividend payment date, IBKR will use the dividend payment to purchase additional shares of that stock on the morning of the trading day which follows confirmation of our receipt of the dividend. If a customer's credit-check fails on the day dividend was paid, the system continues to check for the next 30 days and may include it in the DRIP file when the credit-check passes. In this case the system may book a delayed DRIP trade (i.e. trade date after paydate). IBKR will also look back 30 days from the date of enrollment and will reinvest any dividends paid to the account within that 30 day time period.  Note that shares are not purchased via an issuer-sponsored reinvestment plan but rather in the open market.


5. At what price does reinvestment take place?
As shares are purchased in the open market, generally at or near the opening of trading and subject to market conditions, the price cannot determined until the total number of shares for all program participants have been purchased using combined funds. In the event that the purchase is executed in multiple smaller trades at varying prices, participants will receive the weighted-average price of such shares (i.e., each participant receives the same price). In the event IBKR is unable to reinvest the combined proceeds, each participant will receive shares on a pro rata basis (based on the dividend amount to which each participating client is entitled).

 

6. Are the full proceeds of the cash dividend available for reinvestment?
No. Only the proceeds net of commissions and taxes (if the account is subject to withholding) is reinvested.

 

7. Are dividends from shares purchased on margin and loaned by IBKR eligible for reinvestment?
Yes. If IBKR maintains a lien on shares as a result of a margin loan, the account holder will receive a cash payment in lieu of and equal to the dividend payment. This payment in lieu will be used to purchase additional shares of that stock.

 

8. Are dividends from shares loaned through IBKR’s Yield Enhancement Program eligible for reinvestment?
Yes. While IBKR makes every effort to recall shares loaned through this program prior to the dividend record date, if such shares are not recalled the account holder will receive a cash payment in lieu of and equal to the dividend payment. This payment in lieu will be used to purchase additional shares of that stock.

 

9. Is the dividend reinvestment subject to a commission charge?
Yes, customary commissions are applied for the purchase. Please see website for commission details.

 

10. What happens if my account is subject to a margin deficiency when reinvestment occurs?
If your account is in a margin deficit and can’t initiate new positions, dividends will not be reinvested, even if you have dividend reinvestment enabled.


11. Can account holders elect which securities are eligible for reinvestment?
No. Dividend reinvestment can be turned on or off for the account in its entirety and cannot be elected for a subset of securities held in the account.

 

12. What happens to cash from dividends that is insufficient to purchase a whole share?
Only in limited instances does IBKR facilitate the holding of fractional shares in an account. Any account not eligible to hold fractional shares will have the portion of the cash dividend insufficient to purchase a whole share credited to the account in the form of cash.



13. Does dividend reinvestment cover solely regular cash dividends or are special cash dividends reinvestment as well?

All cash dividends are reinvested.

 

14. What are the tax considerations associated with dividend reinvestment?

The purchase of a shares via DRIP is similar to that of any other share purchase for purposes of tax reporting. In the case of U.S. taxpayers:


- When the shares purchased via DRIP are sold they will be reported on the Form 1099B for US taxpayers in the year in which they are sold. The gain or loss will be calculated based on the FIFO method unless the account holder has selected a different method. The cost basis will be that price at which the shares were purchased and the acquisition date the date of reinvestment or purchase (not the day the dividend is paid).

- Shares purchased via dividend reinvestment are subject to wash sale calculations (i.e., if you sold a security for a loss within 30 days before or after the purchase, a wash sale will occur and that loss deferred).

- Dividend payments are subject to reporting on the Form 1099DIV as current year income even when reinvested.

In the case of non-U.S. taxpayers:

- The cash dividend is subject to U.S. tax withholding prior to reinvestment. Withholding is performed at the statutory rate or at the treaty rate, where available. All income and withholding will be reported on the Form 1042-S for the year in which the dividend payment was received.

 

Overview of Dividend Payments in Lieu ("PIL")

Payment In Lieu of a Dividend (“payment in lieu” or “PIL”) is a term commonly used to describe a cash payment to an account in an amount equivalent to the ordinary dividend. Generally, the amount paid is per share owned. In addition, the dividend in most cases is paid quarterly (i.e., four times per year). The dividend payment is classified as follows: (1) ordinary dividend; and/or (2) payment in lieu of dividend. The former designation is for a payment received directly from the issuer or its paying agent. The latter designation is used when a cash payment is received from other than the issuer or the issuer’s agent.

Payment in lieu of an ordinary dividend may be received when the shares have been bought on margin, or when the account has a subsequent margin loan due to borrowing money to facilitate the payment for additional purchases of shares or as the result of a withdrawal from the margin account. Payment in lieu of a dividend may also be received when shares are owed to the brokerage firm and have not been received by the dividend record date.

To better understand the difference between an ordinary dividend and a payment in lieu, we will explain the steps taken by IB to comply with US regulations. Each business day, the Firm analyzes the positions in each customer account, every borrow, every loan, every pledge of shares for each security held by its customers to determine how many shares are held on margin and the associated margin loan balances. For each security that is fully paid, we are required to segregate those shares in a good control location (for example, a depository or a US bank. See KB1964).  For shares that are held as collateral for a margin loan we are allowed to hypothecate and re-hypothecate shares valued up to 140 percent of the total debit balance in the customer account (See KB1967).

While the guidelines noted above for segregation of securities are clear, there are exceptions that are outside of the Firm's control. For instance, through no fault of its own, IB may have a deficit in segregated shares due to customer activity that changes the Firm’s overall segregation requirement for a security. This may be for a variety of reasons including a delay in receiving shares that have been loaned out to a counterparty after segregation requirements are recalculated and the Firm has issued a stock loan recall, sales of securities by one or more customers that reduce or eliminate margin loans, the deposit of cash by customers that similarly reduce or eliminate margin loans, or a failure of a counterparty to deliver shares for a trade settlement.

Upon issuing a recall of shares loaned, rules permit the borrower of the shares up to 3 business days to return them. The borrower of the shares is required to return them to us when we issue a recall, but if by business day 3 the shares have not been returned, IB may then issue a buy-in notice to begin the process of regaining possession of the shares. An additional 3 business days is generally needed for the purchased shares to settle and be delivered to the firm. Similarly if a counterparty fails to deliver by settlement date, shares to IB to settle a customer purchase, IB can issue a buy-in notice but the purchase of such shares are also subject to trade settlement in 3 days.

To summarize, if by the record date of a dividend certain shares have not been delivered to IB, the Firm will be paid an amount of cash that is equivalent to the dividend amount, but IB will not receive a qualified dividend payment directly from the issuer. In such cases, the Firm will receive PIL and will have no choice but to allocate such payment in lieu to customer accounts. The firm first allocates PIL to those accounts who hold the shares as collateral for a margin loan. If, after PIL is allocated to all shareholders whose accounts are not fully paid, any portion of PIL remains to be paid, it is allocated on a pro-rata basis to each remaining client account.

Account holders should be aware that a PIL may have different tax consequences than an ordinary dividend and should consult a tax advisor to understand such differences and whether they apply to their particular situation.

Dividend Tax Withholding on Depository Receipts

In the event an account holds a dividend paying depository receipt, at the time of the dividend payment taxes will be withheld. In several jurisdictions, IB is unable to efficiently comply in an electronic, straight-through manner with the required beneficial owner disclosure requirements. As such, dividends on depository receipts where full beneficial owner disclosure is required in order to receive beneficial tax treatment will be withheld at the maximum tax rate applicable.

Shareholders will not be eligible for reduced tax treatment on the allocation of cash through IB. All shareholders should consult their tax advisor for information on how to obtain a tax refund or tax credit for such activity.


Considerations for Exercising Call Options Prior to Expiration

INTRODUCTION

Exercising an equity call option prior to expiration ordinarily provides no economic benefit as:

  • It results in a forfeiture of any remaining option time value;
  • Requires a greater commitment of capital for the payment or financing of the stock delivery; and
  • May expose the option holder to greater risk of loss on the stock relative to the option premium.

Nonetheless, for account holders who have the capacity to meet an increased capital or borrowing requirement and potentially greater downside market risk, it can be economically beneficial to request early exercise of an American Style call option in order to capture an upcoming dividend.

BACKGROUND

As background, the owner of a call option is not entitled to receive a dividend on the underlying stock as this dividend only accrues to the holders of stock as of its dividend Record Date. All other things being equal, the price of the stock should decline by an amount equal to the dividend on the Ex-Dividend date. While option pricing theory suggests that the call price will reflect the discounted value of expected dividends paid throughout its duration, it may decline as well on the Ex-Dividend date.  The conditions which make this scenario most likely and the early exercise decision favorable are as follows:

1. The option is deep-in-the-money and has a delta of 100;

2. The option has little or no time value;

3. The dividend is relatively high and its Ex-Date precedes the option expiration date. 

EXAMPLES

To illustrate the impact of these conditions upon the early exercise decision, consider an account maintaining a long cash balance of $9,000 and a long call position in hypothetical stock “ABC” having a strike price of $90.00 and time to expiration of 10 days. ABC, currently trading at $100.00, has declared a dividend of $2.00 per share with tomorrow being the Ex-Dividend date. Also assume that the option price and stock price behave similarly and decline by the dividend amount on the Ex-Date.

Here, we will review the exercise decision with the intent of maintaining the 100 share delta position and maximizing total equity using two option price assumptions, one in which the option is selling at parity and another above parity.

SCENARIO 1: Option Price At Parity - $10.00
In the case of an option trading at parity, early exercise will serve to maintain the position delta and avoid the loss of value in long option when the stock trades ex-dividend, to preserve equity. Here the cash proceeds are applied in their entirety to buy the stock at the strike, the option premium is forfeited and the stock (net of dividend) and dividend receivable are credited to the account.  If you aim for the same end result by selling the option prior to the Ex-Dividend date and purchasing the stock, remember to factor in commissions/spreads:

SCENARIO 1

Account

Components

Beginning

Balance

Early

Exercise

No

Action

Sell Option &

Buy Stock

Cash $9,000 $0 $9,000 $0
Option $1,000 $0 $800 $0
Stock $0 $9,800 $0 $9,800
Dividend Receivable $0 $200 $0 $200
Total Equity $10,000 $10,000 $9,800 $10,000 less commissions/spreads

 

SCENARIO 2: Option Price Above Parity - $11.00
In the case of an option trading above parity, early exercise to capture the dividend may not be economically beneficial. In this scenario, early exercise would result in a loss of $100 in option time value, while selling the option and buying the stock, after commissions, may be less beneficial than taking no action. In this scenario, the preferable action would be No Action.

SCENARIO 2

Account

Components

Beginning

Balance

Early

Exercise

No

Action

Sell Option &

Buy Stock

Cash $9,000 $0 $9,000 $100
Option $1,100 $0 $1,100 $0
Stock $0 $9,800 $0 $9,800
Dividend Receivable $0 $200 $0 $200
Total Equity $10,100 $10,000 $10,100 $10,100 less commissions/spreads

  

NOTE: Account holders holding a long call position as part of a spread should pay particular attention to the risks of not exercising the long leg given the likelihood of being assigned on the short leg.  Note that the assignment of a short call results in a short stock position and holders of short stock positions as of a dividend Record Date are obligated to pay the dividend to the lender of the shares. In addition, the clearinghouse processing cycle for exercise notices does not accommodate submission of exercise notices in response to assignment.

As example, consider a credit call (bear) spread on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) consisting of 100 short contracts in the March '13 $146 strike and 100 long contracts in the March '13 $147 strike.  On 3/14/13, with the SPY Trust declared a dividend of $0.69372 per share, payable 4/30/13 to shareholders of record as of 3/19/13. Given the 3 business day settlement time frame for U.S. stocks, one would have had to buy the stock or exercise the call no later than 3/14/13 in order receive the dividend, as the next day the stock began trading Ex-Dividend. 

On 3/14/13, with one trading day left prior to expiration, the two option contracts traded at parity, suggesting maximum risk of $100 per contract or $10,000 on the 100 contract position. However, the failure to exercise the long contract in order to capture the dividend and protect against the likely assignment on the short contracts by others seeking the dividend created an additional risk of $67.372 per contract or $6,737.20 on the position representing the dividend obligation were all short calls assigned.  As reflected on the table below, had the short option leg not been assigned, the maximum risk when the final contract settlement prices were determined on 3/15/13 would have remained at $100 per contract.

Date SPY Close March '13 $146 Call March '13 $147 Call
March 14, 2013 $156.73 $10.73 $9.83
March 15, 2013 $155.83   $9.73 $8.83

Please note that if your account is subject to tax withholding requirements of the US Treasure rule 871(m), it may be beneficial to close a long option position before the ex-dividend date and re-open the position after ex-dividend.

For information regarding how to submit an early exercise notice please click here

The above article is provided for information purposes only as is not intended as a recommendation, trading advice nor does it constitute a conclusion that early exercise will be successful or appropriate for all customers or trades. Account holders should consult with a tax specialist to determine what, if any, tax consequences may result from early exercise and should pay particular attention to the potential risks of substituting a long option position with a long stock position.

SPY - Dividend Recognition

Unlike the case of a stock, in which a dividend is taxable in the year in which it is paid, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (Symbol: SPY) represents itself as a Regulated Investment Company and its dividend is deemed taxable in the year in which the record date is determined.  As such, SPY dividends declared in either October, November or December and payable to shareholders of record on a specified date in one of those months will be considered taxable income income in that year despite the fact that such dividend will generally be paid in January of the following year.

 

Circular 230 Notice: These statements are provided for information purposes only, are not intended to constitute tax advice which may be relied upon to avoid penalties under any federal, state, local or other tax statutes or regulations, and do not resolve any tax issues in your favor.

Overview of IBKR issued Share CFDs

The following article is intended to provide a general introduction to share-based Contracts for Differences (CFDs) issued by IBKR.

For Information on IBKR Index CFDs click here. For Forex CFDs click here.

Topics covered are as follows:

I.    CFD Definition
II.   Comparison Between CFDs and Underlying Shares
III.  Cost and Margin Considerations
IV.  Worked Example
V.   CFD Resources
VI.  Frequently Asked Questions

 

Risk Warning

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR (UK).

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

ESMA Rules for CFDs (Retail Clients only)

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has enacted new CFD rules effective 1st August 2018.

The rules include: 1) leverage limits on the opening of a CFD position; 2) a margin close out rule on a per account basis; and 3) negative balance protection on a per account basis.

The ESMA Decision is only applicable to retail clients. Professional clients are unaffected.

Please refer to ESMA CFD Rules Implementation at IBKR for more detail.

I.  Share  CFD Definition

IBKR CFDs are OTC contracts which deliver the return of the underlying stock, including dividends and corporate actions (read more about CFD corporate actions).

Said differently, it is an agreement between the buyer (you) and IBKR to exchange the difference in the current value of a share, and its value at a future time. If you hold a long position and the difference is positive, IBKR pays you. If it is negative, you pay IBKR.

IBKR Share CFDs are traded through your margin account, and you can therefore enter long as well as short leveraged positions. The price of the CFD is the exchange-quoted price of the underlying share. In fact, IBKR CFD quotes are identical to the Smart-routed quotes for shares that you can observe in the Trader Workstation and IBKR offers Direct Market Access (DMA). Similar to shares, your non-marketable (i.e., limit) orders have the underlying hedge directly represented on the deep book of those exchanges at which it trades.  This also means that you can place orders to buy the CFD at the underlying bid and sell at the offer.

To compare IBKR’s transparent CFD model to others available in the market please see our Overview of CFD Market Models.

IBKR currently offers approximately 7100 Share CFDs covering the principal markets in the US, Europe and Asia. The constituents of the major indexes listed below are currently available as IBKR Share CFDs. In many countries IBKR also offers trading in liquid small cap shares. These are shares with free float adjusted market capitalization of at least USD 500 million and median daily trading value of at least USD 600 thousand.  Please see CFD Product Listings for more detail. More countries will be added in the near future.

United States S&P 500, DJA, Nasdaq 100, S&P 400 (Mid Cap), Liquid Small Cap
United Kingdom FTSE 350 + Liquid Small Cap (incl. IOB)
Germany Dax, MDax, TecDax + Liquid Small Cap
Switzerland Swiss portion of STOXX Europe 600 (48 shares) + Liquid Small Cap
France CAC Large Cap, CAC Mid Cap + Liquid Small Cap
Netherlands AEX, AMS Mid Cap + Liquid Small Cap
Belgium BEL 20, BEL Mid Cap + Liquid Small Cap
Spain IBEX 35 + Liquid Small Cap
Portugal PSI 20
Sweden OMX Stockholm 30 + Liquid Small Cap
Finland OMX Helsinki 25 + Liquid Small Cap
Denmark OMX Copenhagen 30 + Liquid Small Cap
Norway OBX
Czech PX
Japan Nikkei 225 + Liquid Small Cap
Hong Kong HSI + Liquid Small Cap
Australia ASX 200 + Liquid Small Cap
Singapore* STI + Liquid Small Cap
South Africa Top 40 + Liquid Small Cap

 *not available to Singapore residents

II.   Comparison Between CFDs and Underlying Shares

Depending on your trading objectives and trading style, CFDs offer a number of advantages compared to stocks, but also some disadvantages:
 
BENEFITS of IBKR CFDs DRAWBACKS of IBKR CFDs
No stamp duty or financial transaction tax (UK, France, Belgium) No ownership rights
Generally lower commission and margin rates than shares Complex corporate actions may not always be exactly replicable
Tax treaty rates for dividends without need for reclaim Taxation of gains may differ from shares (please consult your tax advisor)
Exemption from day trading rules  

III.  Cost and Margin Considerations

IBKR CFDs can be an even more efficient way to trade the European stock markets than IBKR’s highly competitive stock offering.

Firstly, IBKR CFDs have low commissions compared to stocks, and the same low financing spreads:

EUROPE   CFD STOCK
Commission GBP 0.05% GBP 6.00 + 0.05%*
EUR 0.05% 0.10%
Financing** Benchmark +/- 1.50% 1.50%

*per order + 0.05% of excess over GBP 50,000
**CFD financing on total position value, stock financing on borrowed amount

When you trade more, CFD commissions become even lower, as low as 0.02%. Financing rates are reduced for larger positions, to as low as 0.5%.  Please see CFD Commissions and CFD Financing Rates for more details.

Secondly, CFDs have lower margin requirements than stocks. Retail clients are subject to additional margin requirements mandated by ESMA, the European regulator. Please see ESMA CFD Rules Implementation at IBKR for details.

  CFD STOCK
  All Standard Portfolio Margin
Maintenance Margin Requirement*

10%

25% - 50% 15%

*Typical margin for blue-chips. Retail Clients are subject to a minimum Initial Margin of 20%. Standard 25% intraday maintenance margin for stocks, 50% overnight.  Portfolio Margin shown is maintenance margin (incl. overnight). More volatile issues are subject to higher requirements

Please refer to CFD Margin Requirements and for more detail.


IV.  Worked Example (Professional Client)

Let’s look at an example. Unilever’s Amsterdam listing has returned 3.2% in the past month (20 trading days to May 14th, 2012) and you believe it will continue to perform well. You want to build a EUR 200,000 exposure and hold it for 5 days. You do 10 trades to build up and 10 trades to unwind. Your direct costs would be as follows:

STOCK

  CFD STOCK
EUR 200,000 Position   Standard Portfolio Margin
Margin Requirement 20,000 100,000 30,000
Commission (round trip) 200.00 400.00 400.00
Interest Rate (Simplified) 1.50% 1.50% 1.50%
Amount Financed 200,000 100,000 170,000
Days Financed  5 5 5
Interest Expense (1.5% Simplified Rate) 41.67 20.83 35.42
Total Direct Cost (Commission + Interest) 241.67 420.83 435.42
Cost Difference   74% Higher 80% Higher

Note: Interest expense for CFDs is calculated on the entire contract position, for shares interest is calculated on the borrowed amount. The applicable rates are the same for both shares and CFDs.

 

But let’s assume you only have EUR 20,000 available to fund the margin. If Unilever continues to perform as it has in the past month, your potential profit would compare as follows:  

LEVERAGE REWARD CFD STOCK
Available Margin 20,000 20,000 20,000
Total Invested 200,000 40,000 133,333
Gross Return (5 Days) 1,600 320 1,066.66
Commission 200.00 80.00 266.67
Interest Expense (1.5% Simplified Rate) 41.67 4.17 23.61
Total Direct Cost (Commission + Interest) 241.67 84.17 290.28
Net Return (Gross Return less Direct Cost) 1,358.33 235.83 776.39
Return on Margin Investment Amount 0.07 0.01 0.04
Difference   83% Less Gain 43% Less Gain

 

LEVERAGE RISK CFD STOCK
Available Margin 20,000 20,000 20,000
Total Invested 200,000 40,000 133,333
Gross Return (5 Days) -1,600 -320 -1,066.66
Commission 200.00 80.00 266.67
Interest Expense (1.5% Simplified Rate) 41.67 4.17 23.61
Total Direct Cost (Commission + Interest) 241.67 84.17 290.28
Net Return (Gross Return less Direct Cost) -1,841.67 -404.17 -1,356.94
Difference   78% Less Loss 26% Less Loss

 

V.   CFD Resources

Below are some useful links with more detailed information on IBKR’s CFD offering:

CFD Contract Specifications

CFD Product Listings

CFD Commissions

CFD Financing Rates

CFD Margin Requirements

CFD Corporate Actions

The following video tutorial is also available:

How to Place a CFD Trade on the Trader Workstation

 

VI.  Frequently Asked Questions

What Stocks are available as CFDs?

Large and Mid-Cap stocks in the US, Western Europe, Nordic and Japan. Liquid Small Cap stocks are also available in many markets. Please see CFD Product Listings for more detail. More countries will be added in the near future.

 

Do you have CFDs on Stock Indices and Forex?

Yes. Please see IBKR Index CFDs - Facts and Q&A and Forex CFDs - Facts and Q&A.

 

How do you determine your Share CFD quotes?

IBKR CFD quotes are identical to the Smart routed quotes for the underlying share. IBKR does not widen the spread or hold positions against you. To learn more please go to Overview of CFD Market Models.

 

Can I see my limit orders reflected on the exchange?

Yes. IBKR offers Direct market Access (DMA) whereby your non-marketable (i.e., limit) orders have the underlying hedge directly represented on the deep book of those exchanges at which it trades. This also means that you can place orders to buy the CFD at the underlying bid and sell at the offer. In addition, you may also receive price improvement if another client's order crosses yours at a better price than is available on public markets.

 

How do you determine margins for Share CFDs?

IBKR establishes risk-based margin requirements based on the historical volatility of each underlying share. The minimum margin is 10%. Most IBKR CFDs are margined at this rate, making CFDs more margin-efficient than trading the underlying share in most cases.  Retail investors are subject to additional margin requirements mandated by ESMA, the European

regulator. Please see ESMA CFD Rules Implementation at IBKR for details. There are no portfolio off-sets between individual CFD positions or between CFDs and exposures to the underlying share. Concentrated positions and very large positions may be subject to additional margin. Please refer to CFD Margin Requirements for more detail.

 

Are short Share CFDs subject to forced buy-in?

Yes. In the event the underlying stock becomes difficult or impossible to borrow, the holder of the short CFD position will become subject to buy-in.

 

How do you handle dividends and corporate actions?

IBKR will generally reflect the economic effect of the corporate action for CFD holders as if they had been holding the underlying security. Dividends are reflected as cash adjustments, while other actions may be reflected through either cash or position adjustments, or both. For example, where the corporate action results in a change of the number of shares (e.g. stock-split, reverse stock split), the number of CFDs will be adjusted accordingly. Where the action results in a new entity with listed shares, and IBKR decides to offer these as CFDs, then new long or short positions will be created in the appropriate amount. For an overview please CFD Corporate Actions.

*Please note that in some cases it may not be possible to accurately adjust the CFD for a complex corporate action such as some mergers. In these cases IBKR may terminate the CFD prior to the ex-date.

 

Can anyone trade IBKR CFDs?

All clients can trade IBKR CFDs, except residents of the USA, Canada, and Hong Kong. Singapore residents can trade IBKR CFDs except those based on shares listed in Singapore. There are no exemptions based on investor type to the residency based exclusions.

 

What do I need to do to start trading CFDs with IBKR?

You need to set up trading permission for CFDs in Account Management, and agree to the relevant trading disclosures. If your account is with IBLLC, IBKR will then set up a new account segment (identified with your existing account number plus the suffix “F”). Once the set-up is confirmed you can begin to trade. You do not need to fund the F-account separately, funds will be automatically transferred to meet CFD margin requirements from your main account.  

Are there any market data requirements?

The market data for IBKR Share CFDs is the market data for the underlying shares. It is therefore necessary to have market data permissions for the relevant exchanges. If you already have set up market data permissions for an exchange for trading the shares, you do not need to do anything. If you want to trade CFDs on an exchange for which you do not currently have market data permissions, you can set up the permissions in the same way as you would if you planned to trade the underlying shares.

 

How are my CFD trades and positions reflected in my statements?

If you have an account with IBLLC, your CFD positions are held in a separate account segment identified by your primary account number with the suffix “F”. You can choose to view Activity Statements for the F-segment either separately or consolidated with your main account. You can make the choice in the statement window in Account Management. For other accounts CFDs are shown normally in your account statement alongside other trading products.

 

Can I transfer in CFD positions from another broker?

IBKR does not facilitate the transfer of CFD positions at this time.

 

Are charts available for Share CFDs?

Yes.

 What account protections apply when trading CFDs with IBKR?

CFDs are contracts with IB UK as your counterparty, and are not traded on a regulated exchange and are not cleared on a central clearinghouse. Since IB UK is the counterparty to your CFD trades, you are exposed to the financial and business risks, including credit risk, associated with dealing with IB UK. Please note however that all client funds are always fully segregated, including for institutional clients. IB UK is a participant in the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme ("FSCS"). IB UK is not a member of the U.S. Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”).Please refer to the IB UK CFD Risk Disclosure for further detail on risks associated with trading CFDs.

 

In what type of IBKR accounts can I trade CFDs e.g., Individual, Friends and Family, Institutional, etc.? 

All margin accounts are eligible for CFD trading. Cash or SIPP accounts are not.

 

What are the maximum a positions I can have in a specific CFD?

There is no pre-set limit. Bear in mind however that very large positions may be subject to increased margin requirements. Please refer to CFD Margin Requirements for more detail.

 

Can I trade CFDs over the phone?

No. In exceptional cases we may agree to process closing orders over the phone, but never opening orders.

 

 

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

62% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR (UK).

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

ESMA Ruling

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) issued temporary product intervention measures effective from 1st August 2018 (ESMA Decision).

The restrictions imposed by the ESMA Decision consist of: 1) leverage limits on the opening of a CFD position; 2) a margin close out rule on a per account basis; 3) negative balance protection on a per account basis; 4) a restriction on the incentives offered to trade CFDs; and 5) a standardized risk warning.

The ESMA Decision is only applicable to retail clients. Professional clients are unaffected.


 

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage.

62% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with IBKR (UK).

You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
 

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