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Build America Bonds and Other Tax Credit Bonds

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 added a provision to the Internal Revenue Code that authorizes state and local governments to issue two types of “Build America Bonds” as taxable governmental bonds with Federal subsidies for a portion of their borrowing costs.

The first type of Build America Bond provides a Federal subsidy through Federal tax credits to investors in the bonds.  The tax credits may also be “stripped” and sold to other investors, pursuant to regulations to be issued by the Treasury Department.  In its Notice 2009-26, the Treasury Department refers to this type of Build America Bond as “Build America Bonds (Tax Credit).”

The second type of Build America Bond provides a Federal subsidy through a refundable tax credit paid to state or local governmental issuers by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.  The Treasury Department refers to this type of Build America Bond as “Build America Bonds (Direct Payment).”  This Notice refers to both Build America Bonds (Tax Credit) and Build America Bonds (Direct Payment) as “Build America Bonds.”

Some municipal market participants have requested guidance on whether Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board rules are applicable to Build America Bonds.  Build America Bonds are municipal securities, because they are issued by States and their political subdivisions and instrumentalities.  Accordingly, all of the MSRB’s rules apply to transactions effected by brokers, dealers, and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) in Build America Bonds, including rules regarding uniform and fair practice, political contributions, automated clearance and settlement, the payment of MSRB underwriting and transaction assessment fees, and the professional qualifications of registered representatives and principals.

For example, dealers in the primary market should note that current Rule G-36 requires underwriters to submit official statements to the MSRB, accompanied by completed Form G-36 (OS), for most primary offerings of municipal securities.  Dealers also have official statement delivery responsibilities to customers under Rule G-32.  Once final, recently proposed revisions to Rule G-32 will require underwriters to satisfy their official statement submission obligations electronically through use of the MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access system (“EMMA”) and will allow dealers to satisfy their official statement delivery obligations by means of appropriate notice to customers.

The MSRB understands that many Build America Bonds may be sold by dealers’ taxable desks and reminds dealers that Rule G-27 requires that municipal securities principals must supervise all municipal securities activities, including such sales.

Dealers in the secondary market should note that Rule G-14 requires that all transactions in municipal securities must be reported to the MSRB within certain prescribed time periods. 

The following additional types of tax credit bonds are also municipal securities subject to MSRB rules: Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, Midwestern Tax Credit Bonds, Energy Conservation Bonds, and Qualified Zone Academy Bonds.

This Notice does not address the securities law characterization of the tax credit component of Build America Bonds (Tax Credit) or other tax credit bonds, whether the credits are used by investors in the bonds or stripped and sold to other investors.