TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, December 20, 2012

NY Times: State and Local Governments Fight to Preserve Tax Exemption for Municipal Bond Interest

New York Times:  Municipalities Fight a Proposal to Tax Muni Bond Interest:

[There is a] lobbying campaign by local and state governments, bond dealers, insurers and underwriters that is trying to pre-empt any attempt to limit or even kill the tax exemption. The administration has proposed capping the tax break that America’s highest earners now receive from municipal bonds, as part of its campaign to close loopholes and enlist more of the rich in fighting the federal deficit. Analysts expect such a cap to be part of a comprehensive tax overhaul package that Congress will take up next year, under a broad fiscal framework now being negotiated by President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner.

“This is the most serious threat to tax-exempt bonds since Roosevelt, in the late 1930s, tried to repeal the exemption across the board,” said John L. Buckley, a professor of taxation at Georgetown University and former chief counsel to the House Ways and Means Committee.

At present, the federal government forgoes about $32 billion a year in taxes by exempting the interest that investors earn from municipal bonds.... The tax exemption is thought to help states and local governments market their bonds, lowering their borrowing costs. But some fiscal analysts say that an undue share of the exemption’s value goes not to local governments, but to the wealthiest bond buyers instead.

(Hat Tip: Mike Talbert.)

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