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the excess distribution is a return of capital

In case you're not perfectly clear on what Ira is saying, when a company (like QCOM) has insufficient earnings to pay its dividend, they look elsewhere for money. A return of capital means just what it sounds like: they're giving you your own money back. That's why you don't pay taxes on it (it was yours to begin with) and that's why it reduces your basis. In the unlikely event that your basis is reduced to zero by repeated returns of capital, such payments are treated as capital gains.

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