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Expected Future Tax Policy and Tax-Exempt Bond Yields

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  • James M. Poterba

Abstract

This paper tests several competing models of municipal bond market equilibrium. It analyzes the influence of changes in both personal and corporate tax reforms on the yield spread between taxable and tax-exempt interest rates. The findings suggest that changes in personal income tax rates have pronounced effects on long-term municipal interest rates, but small effects on short-maturity yields. Corporate tax reforms, however, affect both long- and short-term yields. These results are inconsistent with the view that the relative yields on taxable and tax-exempt bonds are set by banks and insurance companies which are taxed at the corporate rate. They support the more traditional view that banks are the primary holders of short-term muncipal securities, while households are the principal investors in the long-term municipal market. This view suggests that proposals to reform municipal financing policies by increasing the use of short-term borrowing, or issuing long-term floating-rate debt, could reduce the real cost of municipal borrowing.

Suggested Citation

  • James M. Poterba, 1984. "Expected Future Tax Policy and Tax-Exempt Bond Yields," NBER Working Papers 1469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1469
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Trzcinka, Charles A, 1982. " The Pricing of Tax-Exempt Bonds and the Miller Hypothesis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(4), pages 907-923, September.
    2. Gordon, Roger H & Slemrod, Joel, 1983. " A General Equilibrium Simulation Study of Subsidies to Municipal Expenditures," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(2), pages 585-594, May.
    3. Casey Ichniowski, 1984. "Industrial Relations and Economic Performance Grievances and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 1367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. McDonald, Robert L., 1983. "Government debt and private leverage : An extension of the Miller theorem," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 303-325, December.
    5. Feenberg, Daniel, 1981. "Does the investment interest limitation explain the existence of dividends?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 265-269, September.
    6. Kidwell, David S & Trzcinka, Charles A, 1982. " Municipal Bond Pricing and the New York City Fiscal Crisis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(5), pages 1239-1246, December.
    7. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-275, May.
    8. Max H. Bazerman & Henry S. Farber, 1983. "Arbitrator Decision Making: When Are Final Offers Important?," NBER Working Papers 1183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Campbell, Tim S, 1980. "On the Extent of Segmentation in the Municipal Securities Market," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(1), pages 71-83, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joe Peek & James A. Wilcox, 1985. "Taxable and Tax-Exempt Interest Rates: The Role of Personal and Corporate Tax Rates," NBER Working Papers 1544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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