About Tal Rappleyea
As a municipal lawyer, Tal Rappleyea gets asked this question all the time: What is a municipality?
A municipality is actually just a technical term for a county or city. Although municipalities are mainly responsible for creating their laws, they hire municipal lawyers that are responsible for enforcing those laws. Tal Rappleyea covers the following municipal law issues to reflect the needs of area residents:
- Education policies, which governs the safety and standards of education in public schools, accommodating students with disabilities, and job security for teachers.
- Property taxes, which outlines how taxed income from residents can be used to benefit the community.
- Police power, which oversees how police officers monitor resident behavior.
- Zoning, which determines how land in the municipality is used.
Some municipal lawyers work internally for one municipality, while others practice law individually for multiple municipalities. Tal practices law individually in his own private practice and serves several counties in the Albany metro area in New York state.
Tal Rappleyea was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in January 1989. This chapter of the bar association is actually the largest voluntary state bar organization in the nation with a membership of more than 74,000 lawyers. Tal is proud to be a member, considering former presidents Grover Cleveland and Chester A. Arthur were members of the New York State chapter as well.
With nearly three decades of experience and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline State University, Tal Rappleyea has explored municipal law in several roles as an attorney, ranging from positions as Attorney for the Town and Attorney for the Village of several municipalities. Currently, Tal is a solo practitioner in his own Law Offices of Tal G. Rappleyea in Valatie, New York and lists municipal law as one of his main concentrations.
Tal is a supporter the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM), which is an organization that trains municipal officials and operates as a general support group for municipal officials in each state. He is also very active in his community, as he is a member of the Capital District Trial Lawyers Association and holds a position in the County Bar Association of New York State.
Although Tal Rappleyea maintains an active lifestyle by volunteering in his community and maintaining memberships in his field of practice, he still makes time for one of his pastimes, golf, by on the range.
- “Deal of the Year” Award from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
- Named one of the three new inductees to the Ethics Committee of REBNY
- Named to the Executive Board of New York Residential Specialists (NYRS).
The new tax legislation promises to alter the municipal bond tax landscape. Muni investors are smart to pay close attention to the upcoming reconciliation process. Their tax liability and muni yields hang in the balance.
Until Congress completes reconciliation, none of the changes can be taken for granted. The House and Senate bills are just too far apart on many subjects that affect the muni market. There is little way to know which aspects of which measure will prevail. Because of this, muni investors should watch Congress closely but avoid recalibrating their portfolios until the final tax bill passes.
Individual-investor demand for municipal bonds unlikely to diminish
With the new bill’s reduction in tax rates, many investors are gravely concerned a muni selloff will reduce their values. After all, municipal bonds pay lower interest rates compared to corporate bonds. Muni bonds are only attractive to investors whose tax savings outweigh the decreased interest. Tax reform promises to diminish this incentive.
Though the bill promises tax savings, those tax savings won’t be enough to erase the benefits of municipal bonds for taxpayers in brackets paying above 25.6 percent, according to an analysis by Charles Schwab, investors above this tax bracket stand to save money on federal taxes while retaining the benefits of municipal bond tax status. If anything, demand for muni bonds may increase.
This is especially the case if the Senate bill’s provision of eliminating the deductions for state and local taxes prevails. In high tax states like New York or California, some taxpayers could see an increase in marginal tax rates, the Schwab analysis notes. Investors in top tax brackets are sure to seek tax-exempt income sources. Municipal bonds fit the bill.
Constraints on municipal bond supply?
Under the House bill, municipal governments are prohibited from releasing private activity bonds (PAB) after December 31, 2017. PABs are municipal bonds issued by state and local governments to fund special projects, such as airports, hospitals, and universities. PABs accounted for 20 percent of new muni issuance in 2016, according to Bond Buyer. This decreased issuance could push muni yields down in comparison the treasuries, which could also spell trouble for smaller issuers, such as rural hospitals. Without PABs, they may need to resort to taxable bonds, which increases their borrowing costs and their odds of defaulting.
Muni investors should also watch bank’s demand for muni bonds, which may be affected by corporate tax rates making other bonds more attractive, causing banks to curtail their muni exposure. It is also important to remember that the benefits of municipal bonds go beyond tax incentives. They are also very high-quality investments, with average default rates of just 1 percent of new issues this year. Muni bonds are likely to remain attractive investments. Muni investors should keep an eye on the progress of the tax bill and adjust their holdings according to the outcome.