Brace yourself for a large tax hit from mutual-fund payouts

American Century, Vanguard among those passing on more than 20% of a fund through capital-gains distributions

Amid the holiday cards coming in the mail and inboxes this season is a potentially not-so-nice greeting for some mutual-fund investors: capital-gains distributions.

It’s not all bad news. A number of funds are paying out gains because stocks gained this year, with the S&P 500 index SPX, -1.15% up 22% through November (and has continued rising in December). International markets also performed well, with the MSCI ACWI index ACWI, -0.95% up 16.8% in the same 11 months.

But the lump-of-coal part is a possible tax bill.

Debbie Carlson | MarketWatch

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