Mutual Investment Certificate

What Is a Mutual Investment Certificate?

A mutual investment certificate, issued by a local authority, assesses tax on a community in order to fund a public works project that will benefit that community.

Key Takeaways

  • A mutual investment certificate, issued by a local authority, assesses tax on a community in order to fund a public works project that will benefit that community.
  • Mutual investment certificate income is generally tax-free to the recipient.
  • Mutual investment certificates essentially function as a type of general obligation bond.

Understanding Mutual Investment Certificates

A mutual investment certificate is a financial instrument that offers a resource for community leaders, boards, or other local government entities to finance worthwhile projects with potential to make a positive impact on the area.

This type of obligation is financed by a tax assessment imposed upon the residents who will benefit from the facility. It represents a way for the local residents to invest in, and directly support, a project that is intended to benefit the community as a whole. This type of financial strategy is based upon the idea of members of a community all pulling together to jointly enable the community to improve and expand. Residents can thus invest in their community in a tangible way. Mutual investment certificate income, along with income derived from other types of municipal securities, is generally tax-free to the recipient.

The public works project category encompasses many different types of developments and initiatives, which could include facilities intended for entertainment purposes, along with those that will serve health and safety functions. Public works could also include the development of locations to promote employment or education opportunities in the community.

By providing new resources or facilities to the residents of the community, the project aims to have a positive impact not only on the quality of life but also on the economic landscape of that community. The improvements can boost the desirability of the area, which in turn may help increase property values. In this way, this investment may, at some point down the line, pay off for the residents who provided financial support for the project.

Mutual Investment Certificates vs. General Obligation (GO) Bonds

Mutual investment certificates essentially function as a type of general obligation (GO) bond, although they are technically in a different category. A typical GO bond is backed by the credit of the jurisdiction, rather than a specific project.

Mutual investment certificates are not backed directly by revenue from the project but are instead supported by the local taxpayers. The revenue from the projects behind the certificates also may be collected directly by the contractor that is building or renovating the facility, instead of the locality. When managed in this way, the process relieves some of the logistical burdens on the municipality. This can be an advantage for local organizations or authorities that have limited manpower or resources to implement a process for collecting and overseeing financial management aspects of the process.

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  1. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "What are Municipals Bonds." Accessed Jan. 31, 2021.