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I've used Yahoo! Finance to get historical price and dividend data in the past. A recent experience has made me question its accuracy and left me searching for a trusted, accurate source.

Here is a problem I am seeing with differences in the historical distributions (dividend) data from Yahoo! Finance as compared to Google Finance for the Vanguard Wellesley Fund's distributions in 2008, symbol VWIAX.

For Google Finance, setting the graph to show dividends in 2008 on this page: it says it paid out $1.97 total in 2008: $0.78 on 12/16/08, $0.00 on 9/25/08, $0.62 on 6/26/08, and $0.57 on 3/27/08

For Yahoo! Finance, as reported here: it says it paid $3.217 total in 2008: $0.572 on 3/27/08, $0.624 on 6/26/08, $0.593 on 9/25/08, and $1.428 on 12/16/08.

These differences are huge, and each source shows at least one distribution that smells out of whack with reality: the $1.428 12/16/08 distribution at Yahoo! and the $0.00 distribution on 9/25/08 from Google.

I was unable to find this data on Vanguard's site. Maybe it is there but just not easy to discover.

Who can be trusted to provide accurate dividend data?

edit: I checked on MSN Money which showed a total amount for 2008 that differs from both Google and Yahoo!.

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Be sure to differentiate between normal distributions and capital gains (long and short term) - they have quite different implications, depending upon what sort of entity you are using to invest/trade them. – Norgate Data Sep 12 '15 at 1:10

In the case of a specific fund, I'd be tempted to get get an annual report that would disclose distribution data going back up to 5 years. The "View prospectus and reports" would be the link on the site to note and use that to get to the PDF of the report to get the data that was filed with the SEC as that is likely what matters more here. Don't forget that mutual fund distributions can be a mix of dividends, bond interest, short-term and long-term capital gains and thus aren't quite as simple as stock dividends to consider here.

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I keep spreadsheets that verify each $ distribution versus the rate times number of shares owned. For mutual funds, I would use Yahoo's historical data, but sometimes shows up late (a few days, a week?) and it isn't always quite accurate enough. A while back I discovered that MSN had excellent data when using their market price chart with dividends "turned on," HOWEVER very recently they have revamped their site and the trusty URLs I have previously used no longer work AND after considerable browsing, I can no longer find this level of detail anywhere on their site !=( Happily, the note above led me to the Google business site, and it looks like I am "back in business"... THANKS!

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If you want to go far upstream, you can get mutual fund NAV and dividend data from the Nasdaq Mutual Fund Quotation Service (MFQS).

This isn't for end-users but rather is offered as a part of the regulatory framework. Not surprisingly, there is a fee for data access.

From Nasdaq's MFQS specifications page:

To promote market transparency, Nasdaq operates the Mutual Fund Quotation Service (MFQS). MFQS is designed to facilitate the collection and dissemination of daily price, dividends and capital distributions data for mutual funds, money market funds, unit investment trusts (UITs), annuities and structured products.

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