Taxation and bond market investment strategies: Evidence from the market for Government of Canada bonds
This paper shows that, contrary to the suggestion of some investment advisors, for an individual Canadian investor subject to personal income taxation, the after-tax yield on a discount bond is always higher (or, at worse, equal) to the yield on a premium bond. This follows because the tax rate on capital gains is lower than the tax rate on coupon income in Canada. It is also shown that a decline in the capital gains tax rate raises the after-tax yield on discount bonds, but reduces the after-tax yield on premium bonds, and may even cause the yield on premium bonds to become negative. Further, a cut in the tax rate on interest income raises the after-tax yield on all bonds, but raises the yield on premium bonds relative to discount bonds. While the lower after-tax yields on higher coupon bonds might be expected to cause the pre-tax yields on these bonds to rise, no evidence of such tax capitalization is found using a large dataset of matched pairs of Government of Canada bonds for the period 1986-2006. The observed near equality of pre-tax yields since 1995 for bonds with different coupons implies that individuals in Canada earn a significantly smaller after-tax yield from holding premium bonds than discount bonds.
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