Dividends do not equal company earnings.

Say you buy $100 of shares in each of company w, x, y, and z, and say their earnings are all 8% this year. They will pay part of this out as dividends and retain part of it to grow the business.

Company w pays out 2% and retains 6%. **Your total return is now $106 worth of shares **plus $2 dividends for a total value of $108

Company x pays out 4% and retains 4%. **Your total return is now $104 worth of shares** plus $4 dividends for a total value of $108

Company y pays out 0% and retains 8%. **Your total return is now $108 worth of shares** plus $0 dividends for a total value of $108

Company z pays out 12% and sells down 4% of its assets to meet this. Your total return is now $96 worth of shares plus $12 dividends for a total value of $108

If somehow you still don't understand how completely meaningless dividends are, maybe these explanations will help.

https://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/08/dont-buy-in-to-the-dividend-fallacy-new-academic-paper-warns.html

https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Why_did_my_fund_unexpectedly_drop_in_value

https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=258311

This is not how it works in practice for listed companies. This is how it works

*only if you value a company on a net asset / book value basis*, which is common/usual for investment funds (your vanguards and the like) - and it bears pointing out these are not really value generating enterprises.

In reality, the market will apply an earnings multiple (taking into account growth rates and discount rates) to the forecast profit to generate a value that is higher or lower than book value.

So while a company might pay a dividend of $4 and retain $4 of earnings, your (non-index or mutual fund) investment will not necessarily be worth $104. It will be worth what the market believes the sum total of its future profitability is worth.

With respect to the original question, I believe the answer is $14k.

This is simply because you have $14k of purchases through the year. A dividend may be analogous to a withdrawal, but it is not a withdrawal.

An old tax analogy comes to mind about trees and fruit. (This was taught to me in a tax law course and is relevant when determining whether a receipt is income or capital in nature - capital is something that produces income).

A tree is capital. You plant it and it bears fruit (dividend income). With dividends you are simply taking fruit. You want to reinvest (plant another seed) and you end up with more trees.

You want to make a withdrawal you have to cut down the tree.