What Is a Registered Bond?
A registered bond is a type of bond in which the owner's name and contact information are recorded with the issuing entity. This ensures that coupon payments are correctly distributed to the owner of the bond. On the other hand, bearer bonds do not record the owner's information and are the opposite of registered bonds. It is important to note that virtually all bonds in the U.S. are now registered bonds, whether they are corporate bonds, U.S. Treasury bonds, or municipal bonds.
Registered bonds, serving as debt instruments, incorporate a meticulous process of maintaining bondholder information within the records of the issuing entity. This involves comprehensive archiving of the owner's personal particulars, including name and address. Such systematic documentation guarantees the precision of coupon payments, ensuring they are disbursed accurately to the rightful bondholder.
Registration Methods for Bonds
Registered bonds offer two avenues for registration. In the first approach, the issuer prints the owner's name and address on the bond certificate. To transfer ownership, registered owners endorse the certificate or sign it over to another party.
Alternatively, bonds can be electronically registered, with the bondholder's details recorded in computerized databases. In this case, transferring bonds involves providing the recipient's information to the electronic issuer via phone, mail, or fax.
Registered bonds entail debt obligations with the owner's name and contact details on record at the issuing company. Only the registered owner, as of the interest payment date, can receive the agreed-upon earnings. Unauthorized holders will be denied coupon payments. Lost, stolen, or destroyed registered bonds can be easily replaced due to the owner's information on file. When a financial professional purchases a bond for a client and holds it in a brokerage account, the broker or dealer is often listed as the owner, while the client remains the beneficial owner.
Comparative Analysis: Registered Bonds vs. Bearer Bonds
In contrast to registered bonds, bearer bonds lack any owner information. Consequently, coupon payments or principal repayments are made to whoever physically holds the certificate. Bearer bondholders must detach and present the attached coupons for payment, leading to the common reference to bond interest payments as "coupons."
Bearer bonds, inherently less secure than their registered counterparts, lack the ability for replacement if lost or stolen due to the absence of owner records. The anonymity associated with bearer bonds historically attracted money launderers, tax evaders, and individuals seeking to conceal their business activities.
Impact of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act on Bearer Bonds
Enacted in 1982, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) altered the tax treatment of bearer bonds, eliminating their tax-exempt option unless the bond matures in one year or less. This change led to a decline in the prevalence of municipal bonds in bearer form, diminishing their appeal to investors. As a result of TEFRA, the landscape of bonds in the U.S. transformed significantly. Currently, the predominant form is registered bonds, encompassing corporate, U.S. Treasury, and municipal bonds.
The evolution of bond structures, notably the prevalence of registered bonds, has fundamentally shaped the landscape of the U.S. bond market. The meticulous recording of bondholder information ensures the accuracy of coupon payments, distinguishing registered bonds from their bearer counterparts. The impact of legislative measures, such as the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, further influenced the decline of tax-exempt bearer bonds. Today, registered bonds are overwhelmingly dominant, providing a secure and transparent framework for investors in various sectors, including corporate, U.S. Treasury, and municipal bonds.