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    Entries in tax reform (3)


    5 Hot Topics Hitting Public Finance in 2017

    BY  DECEMBER 29, 2016

    In what could be a tumultuous year for state and local finances, these five issues are likely to take center stage.

    Tax Reform

    Many Capitol Hill watchers expect federal tax reform to roll forward in some fashion in 2017 now that a Republican will be in the White House. There are two major proposals on the table that could directly result in higher costs for states.

    For starters, many in Congress have been supportive of limiting the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. Removing this tax perk for bond investors would force governments to offer higher interest rates on the debt, thus increasing their cost of paying off that debt.

    It’s hard to overstate the potential impact of such a move. One estimate pegged the current tax perk savings for state and local governments at about $714 billion from 2000 to 2014. For its part, the federal government estimates it loses as much as $30 billion in potential income tax revenue each year as a result of the perk.

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    The Week in Public Finance: Trump's Impact on Muni Bonds, Panning Social Investing and More

    BY  NOVEMBER 18, 2016

    2 Takes on Trump's Impact on Muni Bonds

     President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed policies could partially change the landscape of the municipal bond market for investors in two primary ways.

    First, his election could put Build America Bonds (BABs) -- or a program like it -- back on the table for government issuers. BABs were introduced in 2009 and 2010 by the Obama administration as a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs. Republicans on Capitol Hill killed the program, but Trump has spoken favorably about it. He's interested in stimulating more investment in infrastructure.

    Unlike regular municipal bonds, BABs aren’t tax exempt, making them more appealing to investors such as international bondholders or institutional investors who aren’t eligible to claim an exemption. Thus, they broaden the municipal bond market.

    Second, an analysis by the Court Street Group Research (CSGR) says Trump’s income tax plan could affect the municipal market because it would eliminate or reduce the tax exemption for municipal bondholders. “The CSGR approaches the reality of a Trump administration with some trepidation as it applies to municipal bonds,” the analysis said.

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    What the Federal Tax Code Reveals About State Revenues

    States often adopt the same tax policies as the feds, but should they?
    BY  FEBRUARY 18, 2016

    Late last year, Congress approved a tax relief package that extended many credits and exemptions. For the sake of consistency, states typically adopt the same credits and exemptions.

    But some states choose to be more connected to the federal tax code than others, meaning they have more policy decisions to make when Congress changes its rules.

    Take Maine, for example. Lawmakers there are caught in a battle over whether to adopt Congress’ extension of the so-called bonus depreciation, which lets businesses deduct half of their equipment investment in a given tax year, rather than deduct the depreciated value over a period of time. The exemption was enacted for a specific, short-term purpose: to provide an economic stimulus during the recession. But Congress has extended it on a limited basis through 2019. Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans want the state to follow the feds through 2019, but Democrats want to limit the program and use the savings to give $23 million to schools.

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