Tax-exempt bonds reduce public power's interest cost on debt and enable it to lower the price of electricity. This subsidy makes taxpayers better off only if the private market fails to provide the correct amount of electricity. In general, the private market can provide the correct amount of electricity; in those cases when it can not, the tax-exempt bond subsidy is unlikely to correct the problem. Tax-exempt bond legislation has been consistent with this perspective that an interest subsidy for electricity production does not correct a market failure; its focus has been to prohibit the spread of subsidized public power beyond its traditional service areas.
A cigarette excise tax increase of 75 cents per pack has been proposed to finance part of the President's universal health care program. The tax enjoys considerable public support, would raise about $11 billion per year, and would be relatively simple to administer because it would increase an existing manufacturer's excise tax. This report discusses these rationales, as well as other effects of and concerns about the tax, organized into topics of market failure as a justification for the tax (i.e., economic efficiency); potential for revenue; equity; and the job loss the tax might cause in tobacco growing regions.
The ACIR Library is composed of publications that study the interactions between different levels of government. This document addresses the volume cap for tax-exempt private-activity bonds.
Date: July 1990
Creator: United States. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.