Invest in Tax Free Municipal Bonds for Lower Taxes and Risk

When you retire, your portfolio returns might be lower because you’re taking less risk and your health care expenses may be higher because you’re older. Getting tax-free income may make sense so you can preserve every dollar possible. The municipality borrows the money (usually a minimum of $5,000 and going up in increments of $5,000 from there), and the bond holder receives fixed payments from the city or state usually twice a year.

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Invest in Tax Free Municipal Bonds for Lower Taxes and Risk

On the plus side, highly-rated municipal bonds are generally very safe investments compared to almost any other investment. The interest rate paid on muni bonds is generally lower than rates for corporate bonds.

The Municipal Bond Market Has Changed

These investors can research and select bonds that work best for their portfolio in terms of risk and return, maturity date and tax benefits. A bond rated AAA or close to it is one of the best municipal bonds. A bond issued by a local government that is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy is one of the worst. In general, higher-income investors are likely to benefit more from municipal bonds than individuals in other tax brackets. Municipal bonds also pose credit risks — as became clear when several larger cities filed for bankruptcy following the most recent recession. Other risk variables are specific to municipal bonds, such as the potential for future changes in the tax law. The most common type of municipal is called the general obligation bond.

The Fidelity New Markets Income Fund is an emerging market bond fund that offers dedicated exposure to sovereign debt of emerging market countries. However, it’s important to note thatrising interest rates and credit perils can pose serious risks, particularly when it comes to high-yield bonds. In 2021, municipal bonds and ETFs have attracted more investments than any other time in the last 25 year. A financial advisorcould help you decide on a bond strategy for your portfolio. Municipal bonds are issued by state, city or local governments. Because these government entities are not subject to federal tax, income derived from investing in municipal bonds is also free from federal taxes.

Invest in Tax Free Municipal Bonds for Lower Taxes and Risk

Insurance and annuity products are offered through Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc., a licensed insurance agency and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. Investors considering a new allocation to the muni sector, or those hoping for reentry after fleeing earlier this year, might consider a cost-averaging strategy.

How To Buy Municipal Bonds

For example, a municipality may issue a bond that does not qualify for federal tax exemption, resulting in the income generated by that bond being subject to federal taxes. As a result of these different treatments, it’s important to consider all aspects of a municipal bond before making a purchase, rather than relying on its broad categorization. The principal difference between municipal bonds and Treasury bonds, aside from the credit considerations, is that municipal bonds are tax-exempt, that is interest is exempt from federal income taxation. The bonds may not necessarily be exempt from state or local income taxes, however as Treasuries are liable to federal taxes, municipal bonds are known as tax-exempt securities. However although there are both tax-exempt and taxable municipal bonds, the sector is sometimes referred to as the tax-exempt market.

  • You may be familiar with bond issues on your local election ballots.
  • A municipal bond that’s not actively traded may have volatile prices and might not be easy to sell immediately for your target price.
  • You must evaluate whether a bond or CD ladder and the securities held within it are consistent with your investment objectives, risk tolerance and financial circumstances.
  • Some municipal bonds are insured by policies written by commercial insurance companies.

Generally, muni bonds may pay off if you’re in the 32% bracket or higher, depending on state taxes, Mullikin said. These assets typically pay off for investors in higher tax brackets versus lower-income retirees. Muni bonds may offer security and tax-free portfolio income with relatively low default risk. A municipal bond that’s not actively traded may have volatile prices and might not be easy to sell immediately for your target price. Jeffrey M. Green has over 40 years of experience in the financial industry. He has written dozens of articles on investing, stocks, ETFs, asset management, cryptocurrency, insurance, and more.

The net expense ratio is the expense ratio after the application of any waivers or reimbursement. This is the actual ratio that investors paid during the fund’s most recent fiscal year. Low correlations to other types of investments may help smooth overall portfolio returns to help investors pursue their long-term goals.

If you’re less confident in your ability to negotiate buying and selling bonds, talk to a financial advisorabout muni bonds. An advisor can help you understand the tax implications of municipal bonds and how they can fit into your overall investment portfolio.

Taxes And Income

In addition, municipal bonds issued within your state may be exempt from state and local taxes. It’s important to keep this in mind when looking at municipal bond rates. In order to accurately compare taxable bonds and tax-free municipal bond rates, you must look at the taxable-equivalent yield. Municipal bonds usually have a yield several percentage points below the yield on corporate bonds of comparable maturity. This means that a municipal bond can provide the same after-tax yield as a taxable bond paying a higher interest rate. If you are in a high tax bracket, the benefits of using municipal bonds in the bond portion of your portfolio are impressive. For example, if your income tax rate is 24%, a municipal bond paying 6% interest is actually a better investment than a taxable bond paying interest at 7.9%.

  • Income funds consists of corporate, Treasury, and bonds backed by government agencies such as the Government National Mortgage Association .
  • Municipal bonds, also known as munis, usually pay interest twice per year for a specific period of time, or term.
  • You can buy individual muni bonds or muni funds in your online brokerage account, and many robo-advisors offer munis as part of their portfolio mix.
  • Treasurys or corporate bonds,” says Litvack, author of a new “Fixed Income Strategy” report from the CIO.
  • All bonds carry market risk, and if you sell the bond before the end of its term, you may not recoup the principal amount you paid.
  • Indeed, muni bonds tend to be less risky than their corporate counterparts, with 113 muni bond defaults out of 13,140 issuers from 1970 to 2019, according to Moody’s, a bond rating company.

Conversely, rate decreases might accelerate prepayments, leaving more dollars to invest at lower rates. Many choose municipal bonds in part because of their relatively low risk, as reflected in their lower default rates. The chart below compares muni bond default rates versus similarly rated taxable bonds. A debt security’s credit rating may therefore deviate from its issuer’s corporate credit rating.

Municipal General Obligation Bond

Tax revenue municipal bonds.These revenue bonds receive backing from a portion of ongoing taxes. For example, some of the income from a utility tax, resort/hotel tax, excise tax or sales tax might be earmarked to pay off the debt. There are two types of municipal bonds, general obligation bondsand revenue bonds. No matter which type you invest in, they are usually considered low-risk investments, with a very high expectation that you’ll be able to recoup your investment plus interest. Correlation shows how closely investments move in relation to each other. Allocating to municipal bonds in a portfolio that includes traditional income and equities can diversify the portfolio to reduce risk and act as a hedge against return volatility.

The material on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. The material should not be considered tax or legal advice and is not to be relied on as a forecast. The material is also not a recommendation or advice regarding any particular security, strategy or product. Hartford Funds does not represent that any products or strategies discussed are appropriate for any particular investor so investors should seek their own professional advice before investing. Content is current as of the publication date or date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market and economic conditions. Investors in all but the lowest tax bracket would have received higher after-tax returns from municipal bonds. Regardless of their tax bracket, many fixed-income investors may want to consider muni bonds.

Invest in Tax Free Municipal Bonds for Lower Taxes and Risk

You can easily calculate the comparable yield on a taxable investment, known as the taxable-equivalent yield (see “Consider Taxable-Equivalent Yield”). Securities that are below investment-grade have a greater risk that the issuers may not meet their debt obligations. These types of securities are generally considered speculative in relation to the issuer’s ongoing ability to make principal and interest payments. If the issuer of securities defaults on its payment of interest or principal, the Municipal Tax Free Bond Fund may lose its entire investment in those securities. All municipal bonds pay interest that is exempt from federal income taxes.

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It’s best to consider municipal bonds as part of a long-term investment strategy, with the potential to provide reliable income and tax efficiency. Municipal bonds can be advantageous, particularly if you are in a higher tax bracket. The most significant disadvantage to investing in tax-free mutual funds is a lower return on your investment.

Products and services described on this website are intended for United States residents only. Nothing contained in this material is intended to constitute legal, tax, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.

Here, he answers key questions about the advantages and risks of municipal bonds, why they might fit your portfolio and what to discuss with your financial advisor. The income you receive from muni bonds you’ve purchased will stay the same, but the market value of the bonds will vary over time. Bond prices and interest rates move in opposite directions like a teeter-totter, so when interest rates rise, bond prices fall. The risk of this lowering of bond values is called “interest rate risk.” Your financial advisor has access to Edward Jones’ sizable inventory of municipal bonds. He or she can help you build a bond ladder by finding a variety of bonds with staggered maturities. Owning short-, intermediate- and longer-term bonds can help you avoid playing guessing games with interest rates, and you’ll have a more diversified portfolio – which can help lower your interest rate risk. Some of these risks are lessened by purchasing shares of a municipal bond fund, which are inherently diversified.


WellsTrade® and Intuitive Investor® accounts are offered through WFCS. Tech stocks have been hammered this year, but some strategists think now is looking like the time to take a chance on some of these names. Forbes Advisor adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners. Nuveen Asset Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser and an affiliate of Nuveen, LLC.

A bond is a type of contract issued by a corporation or a government body. That corporation or government body promises to repay borrowed money on a specified date and to pay interest to bond buyers. The bond’s interest is paid periodically, often twice a year, and usually is set at a fixed rate.

  • Investing in municipal bond mutual funds and ETFs is straightforward.
  • The existence of a fiduciary duty does not prevent the rise of potential conflicts of interest.
  • Once the bond reaches its maturity date, the principal or initial investment is returned to investors as well.
  • The Bloomberg Global Aggregate Index is a flagship measure of global investment grade debt from twenty-four local currency markets.

Typically, yield is expressed as a percentage and is used as an annual figure. One of its applications is current yield, which is a coupon rate of interest divided by the bond’s purchase price. Additionally, yield is a rate of return on a bond that takes into account the sum annual interest payment, the purchase price, the redemption value, as well as the time period remaining until maturity. This is also referred to as maturity yield or yield to maturity. Asset-backed securities Invest in Tax Free Municipal Bonds for Lower Taxes and Risk and mortgage-backed securities are created by pooling loans from a variety of sources and issuing bonds that are backed by these loans. Creditworthiness stems from the credit quality of the underlying loans, as opposed to corporate bonds in which creditworthiness is derived from the earning power of the issuing company. Rising interest rates might cause loan principal prepayments to slow, resulting in less available principal to invest at prevailing higher rates.

Municipal bonds are usually free from state and local taxes as well, especially in the state where the bond is issued — but not always. Therefore, you must make sure a municipal bond is free from all nonfederal income taxes before investing. Profits on the sale of municipal bonds may be treated as income. As a result, that income could also be subject to something called a capital gains tax. Generally, the interest on municipal bonds is exempt from federal income tax. The interest may also be exempt from state and local taxes if you reside in the state where the bond is issued.

Fixed income securities are subject to increased loss of principal during periods of rising interest rates. Fixed-income investments are subject to various other risks including changes in credit quality, market valuations, liquidity, prepayments, early redemption, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors. Lower-rated securities are subject to greater credit risk, default risk, and liquidity risk. When interest rates go up, bond prices typically drop, and vice versa.

An investor buying a muni bond is funding that particular project over a set period of time. They expect to receive interest or coupon payments and the initial principal back when the bond matures, or when the loan term ends.