What Is a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN)?
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What Is a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN)?

3 Min.

Governments issue tax anticipation notes (TANs) as short-term debt security. These notes come with a maturity period of less than a year and usually expire around or shortly after the annual tax deadline. Buyers can purchase TANs at a discounted price and earn interest when the notes mature.

Basics

In public finance, Tax Anticipation Notes emerge as a brief financial instrument employed by state or local government entities to procure funds for public initiatives. These notes are swiftly redeemed using forthcoming tax revenues.

Municipal administrations strategically leverage tax anticipation notes, securing short-term loans for durations not exceeding a year, capitalizing on more favorable interest rates compared to alternative lending sources. These funds are earmarked for vital capital outlays, encompassing infrastructure development like road construction or essential building repairs.

Short-Term Debt Instruments: Overview of Notes

In financial terms, a note mirrors the characteristics of a bond, serving as a debt instrument issued by a borrowing entity to secure short-term funding. Similar to bonds, notes represent interest-bearing securities entailing periodic interest payments throughout the bond's existence. The repayment of the principal occurs upon the note's maturity, which typically spans one year or less, although instances of longer-maturity notes do arise. Payments are routinely derived from a specified revenue stream. In the context of a tax anticipation note, the designated revenue source aligns with the tax revenues of the ensuing year.

TAN Advantages for Investors and Governments

The issuance of Tax Anticipation Notes empowers governments to advance public projects swiftly, eliminating the need to await available cash. This expedited approach incurs lower interest costs than alternative financing channels, like commercial banks.

Investors, in turn, find TANs to be a secure investment option with a modest rate of return. Notably, the interest income derived from TANs is commonly exempt from state and federal taxes, enhancing the overall return on investment.

Example of TAN Usage

Consider a scenario where a government aims to initiate the development of a public park in June 2022, with a total project budget of $5 million.

The city plans to issue tax anticipation notes worth $3 million to cover its cash shortfall despite having only $2 million in available funds. These TANs are set to mature in May 2023, aligning with the anticipated tax revenues slated for receipt in April 2023, post the tax filing deadline. Upon tax collection from individuals and businesses in 2023, the city will promptly retire the TANs, facilitating the repayment of the park construction costs.

Tax Anticipation Notes: Smoothing Revenue Cycles

Governments employ tax anticipation notes to mitigate discrepancies between the timing of revenue receipts and expenditures, providing financial stability. Notably, the fixed maturity dates of TANs are immutable, and the allocated proceeds are earmarked exclusively for the specified project or expenditure outlined in the indenture, preventing diversions.

Tax revenue is the primary source for TAN repayment, with any surplus available for alternative projects only after meeting TAN holder obligations. For instance, an indenture may secure a note against anticipated income tax proceeds due in 10 months.

TANs represent one among various anticipation notes, including revenue anticipation notes (RANs) and bond anticipation notes (BANs), offering state and local governments options for short-term funding needs.

Conclusion

Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs) play a pivotal role in helping governments quickly fund short-term projects with a maturity of less than a year, often coinciding with the annual tax deadline. TANs offer discounted purchases and interest earnings, thereby strategically helping municipalities secure favorable short-term loans for crucial capital outlays. Fixed maturity dates and earmarked proceeds ensure financial discipline, relying on tax revenues for repayment. Along with other anticipation notes, TANs provide flexible financing options for state and local governments to meet immediate funding needs.

Tax Anticipation Note (TAN)
Revenue Anticipation Note (RAN)
Bond Anticipation Note (BAN)
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