Tax Management of Municipal Bonds
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Tax Management of Municipal Bonds



Understanding true interest rate risk of munis and tax-managing muni investments

Understanding true interest rate risk of munis and tax-managing muni investments



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Tax Management of Municipal Bonds Presentation Transcript

  • 1. 61 Broadway New York, NY 10006 212.482.0900 Tax Management of Municipal Bonds Abbreviated Version Charleston, SC, April 18,2014
  • 2. 2 Unique Challenges of Managing Munis Bond values depend on taxes on gains and losses Standard systems ignore taxes; reported interest rate risk and credit risk measures are unreliable Theoretical bond valuation framework has been extended to include taxes Main topic: maximizing after-tax return How to calculate benefit from selling How to decide when to sell Need after-tax analytics
  • 3. 3 When Rates Rise Prices Will Fall More Than Expected Bond Buyer, March 18, 2013 Single-A Par Bonds Rates Rise 100bps Standard Approach Kalotay Approach Mistake by Standard Approach Price Yield Price Yield Price Yield (bps) 2-yr 0.90% 98.05 1.90 96.82 2.54 -1.23 64 5-yr 1.65% 95.35 2.65 92.84 3.21 -2.51 56 10-yr 3.00% 91.82 4.00 88.94 4.38 -2.88 38
  • 4. 4 Taxation of Tax-Exempt Munis Held to Maturity Gain is taxable at maturity, but loss is not deductible Large gain taxed as ordinary income Small gain (purchase above de minimis threshold) taxed as capital gains When rates rise, tax on gain to new buyer depresses price But ‘hold value’ depends on current investor’s purchase date and price, and can differ from market price
  • 5. 5 Analytical Approach: Overlay Taxes on Standard OAS Framework Incorporate taxes on capital gains and losses Including callables and OID’s Assume investors are in the top tax bracket Key concepts: tax-neutral value and OAS Tax-neutral value is the PV of after-tax cashflows, including tax at maturity; determined iteratively Tax-neutral OAS adjusts for both call option and taxes
  • 6. 6 Taxes Depress Prices of Discount Munis 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 2.50 2.55 2.60 2.65 2.70 2.75 2.80 2.85 2.90 2.95 3.00 Value(%Par) Coupon (%) 10-Year Bullets Pre-tax Market Smoothed Buy-and-Hold 10-Yr Rate 3%
  • 7. 7 After-Tax Performance Is The Right Measure Munis are held in after-tax accounts Directly: Individual and separately managed accounts (SMA’s) Indirectly: Mutual funds and ETF’s Also: insurance companies and other financial institutions Objective should be to achieve superior after-tax return Including taxes associated with gains and losses Performance can be enhanced by strategic sales Tax-loss harvesting is the standard, but not the only, method
  • 8. 8 Tax Treatment of Gain/Loss on Sale Prior to Maturity Depends on investor’s tax basis Purchased at a premium: amortized value Purchased at a discount: purchase price Gain can have split treatment OIDs are complicated (not discussed) Can be short-term or long-term For high-income individuals, short-term rate is 43.4%; long-term rate is 23.8% Losses need offsetting gains; otherwise carry forward
  • 9. 9 Tax Management Opportunities Familiar transaction: selling losers Known as tax-loss harvesting Short-term loss @ 43.4% can be very valuable Selling winners (bonds purchased at a discount whose value surged) can also be beneficial Can you figure out why?
  • 10. 10 ‘Hold Value’ is Critical to the Sale Decision Hold Value = PV (bond flows + tax due from current holder) Tax is based on purchase date and price Applicable tax rate is investor-specific Discount rates estimated from trades of like bonds Hold value and market price can diverge Market price depends on tax considerations of the new buyer It is also affected by liquidity Bonds purchased or selling at a discount require special attention
  • 11. 11 Market Price and Hold Value Can Diverge 10-Year Bullets 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 2.40 2.50 2.60 2.70 2.80 2.90 3.00 3.10 Value(%Par) Coupon (%) Hold Value Given Above- Par Purchase Price Market Price Hold Value Given Purchase at 90 10-Yr Rate 3%
  • 12. 12 Sale Decision Is a Two-Step Process 1. Is it beneficial? Compare after-tax proceeds from sale to hold value Benefit does not depend on the replacement bond, but reinvestment in like bond maintains risk exposure In practice, tax-driven sales are presented to retail clients as ‘swaps’ – an unnecessary source of confusion
  • 13. 13 Calculation of Benefit from Selling a Loser Bond Purchased at a Premium, Sold Below Par 2.50% Bond – 10 Years to Maturity Purchase Price (2 years ago)  111.85 Holder’s Basis  110.00 Sale Price (after 0.5% spread)  93.22 Loss  =  –  (16.78) Tax Savings @ 23.8%  3.99 After-tax Proceeds from Sale  =  +  97.21 Hold Value  95.57 Net Benefit of Transaction  =  –  1.64 All values in percent of par
  • 14. 14 Sale Decision Is a Two-Step Process 1. Is it beneficial? Compare after-tax proceeds from sale to hold value 2. Do it now or wait? Sale at a later time may be more beneficial, depending on rates How to deal with interest rate uncertainty?
  • 15. 15 Benefit from Selling Increases as Rates Rise -1.0 -0.5 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 -75 -50 -25 0 25 50 75 100 NetBenefitfromSelling(%par) Yield Curve Shift (bps) Bond Purchased at Premium, Sold Above Par Lower Prices Current bid price 117.20 5% bond, 10 years to maturity Purchased 2 years ago at 125.78 Current tax basis 122.00 Higher Prices
  • 16. 16 Introducing the Tax Option The right to execute tax-driven trades is a tax option Every investor owns this free option But only astute managers know how to ‘monetize’ it Value of tax option depends on volatility of interest rates Interest rates affect price, which in turn affects tax benefit
  • 17. 17 Volatility Increases Value of Tax Option Greater Potential for Tax-Loss Harvesting 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 0 5 10 15 20 TaxOptionValue(%par) Interest Rate Volatility (%) 5% bond, 10 years to maturity Purchased 2 years ago at 125.78 Current bid price 117.20
  • 18. 18 Tax Efficiency Signals When to Sell Benefit should realize most of forfeited tax option value Decision depends on risk tolerance; 90% minimum recommended No reason for delaying at 100% 𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸𝐸 = 𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴𝐴 𝑃𝑃𝑃𝑃𝑃𝑃𝑃𝑃 − 𝐻𝐻𝐻𝐻 𝑉𝑉𝑉𝑉𝑉 𝑇𝑇𝑇 𝑂𝑂𝑂𝑂𝑂𝑂 𝑉𝑉𝑉𝑉𝑉
  • 19. 19 Short-Term Loss Enhances Tax Efficiency -20 0 20 40 60 80 100 119 120 121 122 123 124 Efficiency(%) Purchase Price (% par) 5% bond, 10 years remaining Purchased 6 months ago at prices shown Current sale price 117.20 10-Yr Rate 3% Transaction Cost 0.5% IR Volatility 20% Wait Sell
  • 20. 20 Summary Munis offer opportunities for tax-driven sales Can generate positive after-tax cashflow Tax option: right to execute such sales Its value depends on market volatility and transaction cost Tax efficiency signals when to execute
  • 21. 21 Tax Management Today: Theory and Practice Benefit can be considerable Value of tax option in new long-term muni is roughly 5 points Translates into at least 30 bps annual outperformance over ‘buy-and-hold’ But tax considerations are largely ignored by managers Mutual funds and ETF’s report only pretax performance Investors are responsible for taxes on capital gains Managers of SMA’s are reluctant to advise on taxes For individuals, transaction cost is prohibitive
  • 22. 22 References “Bond Valuation in Tax Denial”, Quant Forum (March 29, 2014) “The Tax Option in Municipal Bonds,” A. Kalotay, D. Howard, Journal of Portfolio Management, (Winter 2014) “The Interest Rate Sensitivity of Tax-Exempt Bonds under Tax-Neutral Valuation,” Journal of Investment Management, (First Quarter 2014) “Optimum Tax Management of Municipal Bonds” (working paper) “How to Take a Tax Loss and Then Profit From Obamacare”, The Bond Buyer, (December 11, 2014)