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Short Term Tax Exempt Bonds


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Short Term Tax Exempt Bonds are municipal bonds of short duration.  Their coupon payments are exempt from federal taxation (unless they are AMT preference bonds and you are subject to the AMT).  Short Term Tax Exempt bonds have investment characteristics similar to those of taxable short-term bonds.  It may be appropriate to use them if there isn't room for taxable bonds in your tax-deferred/tax-exempt accounts.

There are several very similar investment options available.  Which is best?

The funds are listed in rough order of our overall preference.

It is imprudent to use municipal bonds in retirement accounts.  So we only list preferences for taxable accounts.  For retirement accounts consider Short-Term Taxable Bonds.

For a listing of our preferences in other asset classes, see here.

Taxable Accounts

bulletVanguard Limited-Term Tax-Exempt Fund Admiral Shares (VMLUX).  E/R: 0.09%.  Invests in short-term muni bonds.

bulletiShares Short Term National Municipal Bond ETF (SUB).  E/R: 0.07%.  This ETF tracks the ICE Short Maturity AMT-Free US National Municipal Index.  This fund eschews AMT preference bonds.

bulletVanguard Limited-Term Tax-Exempt Fund (VMLTX).  E/R: 0.17%.  Invests in short-term muni bonds.

bulletDFA Short-Term Municipal Bond Portfolio (DFSMX).  E/R: 0.18%.  This fund eschews AMT preference bonds.  This fund's "variable maturity" strategy should enhance its risk/return characteristics somewhat.  However, because of the illiquidity of municipal bonds, they only implement the variable maturity strategy with new money.  This limits the benefits which the strategy can deliver.

bulletVanEck Short Muni ETF (SMB).  E/R: 0.07%.  This ETF tracks the ICE Short AMT-Free Broad National Municipal Index.  This fund eschews AMT preference bonds.

bulletSPDR Nuveen Bloomberg Short-Term Municipal Bond ETF (SHM).  E/R: 0.20%.  This ETF tracks the Bloomberg Managed Money Municipal Short Term Index.  This fund eschews AMT preference bonds.  We prefer SHM over SMB principally because the fund has dramatically more assets, which should give better liquidity.

bulletPIMCO Short-Duration Muni Income Fund Institutional Shares (PSDIX).  E/R: 0.33%.  We see no reason to buy this fund when the above less costly alternatives exist.

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This web page contains the current opinions of Eric E. Haas at the time it is writtenand such opinions are subject to change without notice.  This web page is intended to serve two purposes:

bulletTo educate the public; and
bulletTo provide disclosure of Mr. Haas' opinions to prospective clients.  We believe that prospective clients are well-served by being made aware of what they are buyingand what they are buying is advice that is based on these opinions.

We believe the information provided here to be useful and accurate at the time it is written.  Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. 

No investor should invest solely on the basis of information listed here.  Before investing, it is important to consult each prospective investment's prospectus and consider both its risk/return characteristics and its effect on your overall portfolio.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal, or investment planning advice.  Where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, Altruist recommends consultation with a qualified tax adviser, CPA, financial planner, or investment adviser.  If you would like to discuss the rationale or support for any particular idea expressed on this web page, feel free to contact us.


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