Municipal Revenue Bonds

Municipal Revenue Bonds

Municipal Revenue Bonds

The Supreme Court of the United States decision of Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. of 1895 initiated a wave or series of innovations for the financial services community in both tax-treatment and regulation from government. This specific case, according to a leading investment bank’s research, resulted in the “intergovernmental tax immunity doctrine,” ultimately leading to “tax-free status.” Municipal Bonds take two forms: (a) revenue bond, and (b) general obligation bond. Revenue bonds, like GO bonds, or general obligation bonds are exempt from state and local tax on their interest payments (not capital gains). They are however NOT subject to federal taxation, dissimilar from Treasury securities. Revenue bonds may be issued by an agency, commission, or authority created by legislation in order to construct a “facility,” such as a toll bridge; turnpike; hospital; university dormitory; water; sewer, utilities and electric districts; or ports. The fees, taxes, or tolls charged for use of the facility ultimately pay off the debt. Governments with the power to tax also issue revenue bonds, but restrict the debt service funds to only those funds from the governmental enterprise that generates these revenues. The government itself does not pledge its own credit to pay the bonds. When a municipality determines a liability for the debt service of the income from the project is insufficient, it is considered to be double-barreled. In this case however, they are more like GO bonds. Revenue bonds are most concerned with the repayment of interest to lenders who believe in financing a given public works project such as, tunnels, parks, and buildings of education (i.e. committed tolls for a bridge, college dorm and/or student loans, education). In the case of education or school systems, bonds issued for colleges and universities are from the state level and are generally backed by income or progressive taxes. Bonds, which are issued by towns, cities, and counties, are backed by local property (ad valorem) or regressive taxes and all other sources of revenue to the municipality. As a general rule, revenue bonds are backed by the revenue generated by the municipal facility the bond issues. A feasibility study should be conducted to compare one project’s IRR (internal rate of return, or hurdle rate) to another proposed project, as it is most important to insure the success for the municipality. For instance, local government and port authorities can propose construction for a given neighborhood, based on projects that have been successful previously, or it can create a nonprofit authority to issue revenue bonds to build a school district. In recent legislation, the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (Securities Act Amendments of 1975), and now FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulation Authority) as of July 30, 2007, the industry overall has consolidated not only in sheer number but by undoing previous legislation, such as the Securities Act of 1933. Municipal bonds traditionally were exempt from the filing requirements of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, however, like all other securities they are still subject to the anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and once again the newly formed FINRA.

Some examples of Revenue Bonds include:
*IDRs and IDBs (Industrial Development Revenue Bonds)
*Lease rental bonds
*Special Assessment Bonds (or Special District Bonds
*New Housing Authority Bonds
*Moral Obligation Bonds

As a revenue bond is not backed by the full, faith, and credit of the U.S. government, it does not require voter approval. As of July 1, 1983, all municipal bonds must be registered. Two other important pieces of legislation are the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and the 39 General Regulations that govern the SRO (self-regulatory organization) of the MSRB. The MSRB, as mentioned above, governs the issuance and trade of municipal securities both general obligation and revenue bonds.

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