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Can Discriminatory State Taxation of Municipal Bonds Be Justified?


Brian D. Galle


Boston College Law School

Ethan Yale


University of Virginia School of Law


Tax Notes, Vol. 117, No. 2, October 8, 2007
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 276
FSU College of Law, Law and Economics Paper No. 07-17
Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1014138
State Tax Notes, Vol. 46, No. 3, October 22, 2007

Abstract:     
This Report continues our analysis of Department of Revenue of Kentucky v. Davis, a case argued in the 2007-2008 Supreme Court term. The issue in Davis is the constitutionality of Kentucky's practice (shared by all other states with an income tax) of taxing interest on federally-exempt bonds issued outside Kentucky while exempting its own municipal bonds from taxation. In this installment we evaluate skeptically a number of possible state interests that might be offered to justify that practice. For example, we point out that Kentucky's assertion that the policy conserves state revenue is wrong. We also argue that, if the goal is to transfer revenues from the state to local governments, then exemption is inferior to direct grants.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 7

Keywords: Dormant Commerce Clause, municipal bonds, fiscal federalism, Pike

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Date posted: September 13, 2007 ; Last revised: June 23, 2010

Suggested Citation

Galle, Brian D. and Yale, Ethan, Can Discriminatory State Taxation of Municipal Bonds Be Justified?. Tax Notes, Vol. 117, No. 2, October 8, 2007; FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 276; FSU College of Law, Law and Economics Paper No. 07-17; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1014138; State Tax Notes, Vol. 46, No. 3, October 22, 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1014138

Contact Information

Brian D. Galle
Boston College Law School ( email )
885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
Ethan Yale (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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