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Tax-Equivalent Yield


Tax-equivalent yield (TEY) is a financial term used to compare the returns of taxable and tax-exempt investments, such as municipal bonds. It calculates the pre-tax yield that a taxable investment would need to achieve in order to match the tax-free return of a municipal bond. This comparison allows investors to make informed decisions when choosing between taxable and tax-exempt investments, taking into account their individual tax rates.


The phonetics of the keyword “Tax-Equivalent Yield” are:T -æ- k- s – – i- k – w – i – v – ə – l – ə – n – t – – – i – e – l – d[tæks ɪˈkwɪvələnt jild]

Key Takeaways

  1. Tax-Equivalent Yield (TEY) is a calculation that enables investors to compare the yield of taxable investments, such as corporate bonds, with tax-exempt investments, such as municipal bonds, by converting the tax-exempt yield into a pre-tax, taxable-equivalent yield.
  2. TEY is essential in making informed decisions when choosing between taxable and tax-exempt investments. It accounts for the investor’s marginal tax rate, giving a clear picture of the investment yield if it were subjected to taxes. This allows for a more accurate comparison between investment options.
  3. To calculate Tax-Equivalent Yield, use the following formula: TEY = Tax-Exempt Yield / (1 – Marginal Tax Rate). The result will provide the pre-tax yield that a taxable investment would need to offer to be equivalent to the tax-exempt investment yield based on the investor’s marginal tax rate.


Tax-equivalent yield is an important concept in the realm of business and finance, as it provides investors with a useful means to compare the returns of taxable and tax-exempt investments. By converting the yield of a tax-exempt investment, such as a municipal bond, into a pre-tax equivalent, investors can more effectively assess potential investments on a level playing field. This evaluation ensures that investors make well-informed decisions in terms of allocation and diversification within their portfolios, taking into account not only the yield of an investment but also the tax implications arising from different investment types. Consequently, the understanding of tax-equivalent yield is crucial for maximizing returns, managing risk, and achieving efficient results in an investor’s financial strategy.


Tax-equivalent yield serves as a critical tool for investors as it allows them to compare the return on different investment options, like taxable and tax-exempt securities, on a level playing field. The primary purpose of computing tax-equivalent yield is to provide a clear understanding of the returns an investor would receive from a taxable investment in order to equal the returns of a tax-exempt investment. Investors usually face different tax rates and exemptions depending on the type of investments they make, making income comparisons between various securities more challenging. This is where the concept of tax-equivalent yield comes into play, assisting investors in making well-informed decisions by taking into consideration the impact of taxes on the investment. The tax-equivalent yield calculation accounts for an investor’s tax rate, which helps in revealing the true return on investments; particularly municipal bonds, corporate bonds, and treasury bonds. Municipal bonds are often tax-exempt, whereas corporate and treasury bonds are subject to taxes. By using tax-equivalent yield, investors can gauge the after-tax returns of various investment options and determine which security would suit them best. This evaluation helps in identifying the most suitable choice by considering the tax implications, leading to a more accurate and personalized investment strategy. Therefore, the tax-equivalent yield acts as a vital measurement for investors to allocate their resources efficiently while minimizing tax liabilities and maximizing the true rate of return on their investments.


1. Municipal Bonds vs. Corporate Bonds: An investor is considering investing in either a municipal bond or a corporate bond. The municipal bond has a tax-free interest rate of 4%, while the corporate bond has a taxable interest rate of 6%. To make an informed decision, the investor needs to calculate the tax-equivalent yield of the municipal bond. Assuming the investor is in the 25% tax bracket, the tax-equivalent yield for the municipal bond would be calculated as: (1 – 0.25) * 6% = 4.50%. In this case, the tax-equivalent yield of the municipal bond is higher than its actual yield (4%), making it a more attractive investment option for the investor when compared to the 6% taxable yield of the corporate bond. 2. High-Yield Savings Accounts: An individual has a high-yield savings account with an annual interest rate of 3%. They have the option to invest in a tax-free money market fund with an annual interest rate of 2%. In order to determine which option is more advantageous, the individual should calculate the tax-equivalent yield of the tax-free money market fund. Assuming they are in the 35% tax bracket, the tax-equivalent yield for the money market fund would be: (1 – 0.35) * 3% = 1.95%. In this scenario, the high-yield savings account with a 3% interest rate is the better option, as its after-tax yield is higher than the tax-equivalent yield of the money market fund. 3. Dividend Stocks vs. Tax-Free Bonds: An investor is considering investing in dividend-paying stocks or tax-free bonds. A particular dividend stock offers an annual dividend yield of 5%, but the dividends are taxable. The tax-free bond offers a yield of 3.5%. To determine which investment is more tax-efficient, the investor should calculate the tax-equivalent yield of the tax-free bond. Assuming a 15% tax rate on dividends, the tax-equivalent yield of the tax-free bond would be calculated as: (1 – 0.15) * 5% = 4.25%. In this case, the tax-equivalent yield of 4.25% for the tax-free bond is higher than the 3.5% actual yield, making it a more advantageous investment in terms of tax efficiency when compared to the dividend-paying stock.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Tax-Equivalent Yield?
Tax-Equivalent Yield (TEY) is a calculation that helps investors compare the return of taxable and tax-exempt investments. It reflects the yield an investor would need on a taxable investment to match the return of a tax-free investment, such as a municipal bond.
How do you calculate Tax-Equivalent Yield?
The formula to calculate TEY is:Tax-Equivalent Yield = Tax-Exempt Municipal Bond Yield / (1 – Investor’s Tax Rate)For example, if an investor has a 30% tax rate and a municipal bond offers a 5% yield, the TEY would be 7.14% (5% / (1 – 0.30)).
Why is Tax-Equivalent Yield important for investors?
TEY helps investors make informed decisions when comparing investment options, especially between taxable and tax-exempt instruments. It allows them to understand their potential return on investment after accounting for their individual tax rates.
How does the investor’s tax rate impact Tax-Equivalent Yield?
As an investor’s tax rate increases, the tax-equivalent yield also increases. This means taxable investments need a higher yield to match the tax-exempt return, making tax-free investments more attractive for high-income investors.
What types of investments are tax-exempt?
The most common tax-exempt investments are municipal bonds, which are issued by state and local governments and are generally exempt from federal tax and potentially state and local tax as well. Other tax-exempt investments include Treasury securities and certain types of mutual funds.
Can Tax-Equivalent Yield change over time?
Yes, TEY can change due to fluctuations in an investment’s yield or an investor’s tax rate. Changes in tax laws can also impact the tax-equivalent yield. It’s essential for investors to periodically review their investments to ensure they align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

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