Advantages and Disadvantages of Exempting Municipal Bonds from the Federal Income Tax: The U.S. Experience



Romania and other Eastern European countries have undergone dramatic reforms as they have sought to democratize political institutions, develop their economies, rely on private markets for the provision of goods and services, and pursue a course of economic integration with Western European nations (Lazar, 2005). Of course, these reforms have included the complete overhaul of tax and revenue systems (Lazar, 2005). As these tax reforms mature and are adapted to the differing realities of each country, it might be useful to reflect on the experiences and mistakes of countries whose tax systems they have used as blueprint for their own reforms. This is the spirit in which this analysis is written. The article presents a synthesis of the American experience with tax-exempt municipal bonds, and the advantages and disadvantages associated with this tax exemption. The exemption represents a subsidy from the federal government to states and local governments, and as such, it has powerful incentives with implications from the economic and redistributive standpoints. This article explains these implications and how they have been addressed in the U.S.


exempting municipal bonds; federal income; taxing; reform; economic integration;

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