Tax-Exempt Interest

Interest on a bond that is used to finance government operations generally is not taxable if the bond is issued by a state, the District of Columbia, a U.S. possession, or any of their political subdivisions. Political subdivisions include:

Obligations that are not bonds. Interest on a state or local government obligation may be tax exempt even if the obligation is not a bond. For example, interest on a debt evidenced only by an ordinary written agreement of purchase and sale may be tax exempt. Also, interest paid by an insurer on default by the state or political subdivision may be tax exempt.

Indian tribal governments. Bonds issued after 1982 by an Indian tribal government are treated as issued by a state. Interest on these bonds is generally tax exempt if the bonds are part of an issue of which substantially all of the proceeds are to be used in the exercise of any essential government function. However, interest on private activity bonds (other than certain bonds for tribal manufacturing facilities) is taxable.

Original issue discount (OID) on tax-exempt state or local government bonds is treated as tax-exempt interest.

This information is found in Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses.