03/17/2017

Defending Tax-Exempt Status of Municipal Bonds

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On March 29, 2017 a coalition of 53 organizations representing city, county and state governments, utilities, critical infrastructure, public service providers, and municipal finance professionals sent a letter entitled Don’t Mess With Our Bonds to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives and the House Ways and Means Committee to express their strong support for tax-exempt municipal bonds.  As stated in the letter, “Proposals to reduce or repeal the tax exemption would have a severely detrimental impact on national infrastructure development and the municipal bond market. Such proposals would clearly increase the borrowing costs of state and local governments and create uncertainty for investors.”

On March 9, 2017 a bi-partisan letter was sent by U.S. Congressmen to the House Ways and Means Committee asking that leadership reject any proposal to cap or eliminate the deduction on tax-exempt municipal bonds used to finance the vast majority of infrastructure projects in America’s communities.  The letter was signed by 156 Congressmen; 94 Democrats and 61 Republicans.

As Congress considers tax reform and infrastructure financing, those signing the letter expressed their strong support for tax-exempt municipal bonds as an important tool which, for more than a century, has provided states and local governments with a reliable and efficient means of financing.

Factors cited in support of maintaining the municipal bond tax-exemption include:

  • Municipal bonds are pro-growth investments which spur job creation, help our economies grow, and strengthen our communities
  • Millions of Americans depend on municipal bonds for their economic security, and invest in them because of their low-risk nature
  • Nearly 75% of municipal bond investors earn less than $200,000 per year, and more than 75% are 55 or older
  • A combination of local control and local responsibility make municipal bonds an incredibly effective and efficient tool
  • Federal tax exemption reduces the cost if issuing municipal bonds, but local voters pay the interest and principal on municipal bonds

The letter concludes by stating that the current tax-exempt status of municipal bonds contributes to efficient economic growth that benefits all Americans.

Separately on March 9th, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) commented on the American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, saying “the 2017 ASCE Report Card clearly shows the desperate need for a strong commitment to infrastructure investment, which will help spur job creation and economic growth. SIFMA strongly advocates that the tax exemption for municipal bond interest remain intact, so that it may continue to help America’s cities and states boost their local economies through the construction of new projects such as roads, hospitals and schools.”

As Congress begins consideration of tax reform and infrastructure spending, we encourage you to contact your Congressional members to express your views on the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds.

Updated 4/3/2017