Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I buy Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bonds?
Bonds issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the primary market must be purchased through an Investment Advisor or broker dealer. Prospective Investors must have an open brokerage account before the sale of the bonds to place any orders.
In advance of purchasing a Commonwealth of Massachusetts bond, investors should read all official documents and rating reports for the specific bond issue they are interested in, all of which are available in the bonds and financial documents sections of this website.
Contact your investment advisor or broker dealer in advance of the bond sale to discuss your investment options.
- What is a "retail priority order period"? What is a "pricing date"?
The retail priority order period is a one or two-day period just before the pricing date when individual investors have first priority to place their bond orders with their investment advisor or broker dealer. The pricing date is the day when the coupon rates, yields and prices for each bond maturity are finalized. It is important to note that the coupon and pricing information available during the retail priority order period is preliminary and will not be final until the pricing date, which is typically the following business day.
- When will I receive interest payments on Massachusetts bonds? When will I get my principal payment back?
When you purchase a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bond, your principal investment will be returned to you at maturity. Until maturity, you will receive interest payments, generally semi-annually, until the maturity date of the bond.
- What are some benefits of purchasing municipal bonds?
Municipal bonds and notes can be an important part of a diversified investment portfolio. Because bonds and notes typically have a predictable stream of payments of principal and interest, many people invest in them to preserve and increase their capital, or to receive dependable interest income. If you purchase a tax-exempt bond, your interest payments will be exempt from federal income tax and, if you are a Massachusetts resident, your interest payments from Commonwealth of Massachusetts bonds will also be exempt from Massachusetts state income tax. The tax advantage individual investors receive from tax-exempt bonds will vary depending on income level and other factors. It is important to consult with your investment advisor or broker dealer before purchasing bonds.
- Are there risks involved in purchasing municipal bonds?
Investing in any bond carries certain risks that can vary from bond issue to bond issue. For example, such risks include, but are not limited to, credit risk and market risk. To evaluate the credit risks associated with a particular bond issue, you should review the Preliminary Official Statement of the offering in its entirety as well as the ratings reports and consult your investment advisor or broker dealer.
- What does it mean if a bond is callable?
Most municipal bonds are issued with an early redemption feature, typically referred to as a call option. A call feature gives the issuer of the bond the right, but not the obligation, to “call” back or redeem bonds after a specific amount of time has passed from the time of issuance. If a bond is called early, principal is repaid back in full to the investor and regular interest payments cease.
- What is the difference between buying a bond in the "primary" market versus the "secondary" market?
New bond issues are sold in the primary market. In a new issue, the bond terms are set, including the initial price and the yield, and the bonds are sold to investors, with the issuer receiving the proceeds of the sale. A secondary market transaction does not involve the issuer but is a transaction between two investors – a buyer and a seller. Secondary market transactions involve a broker dealer which acts either as an intermediary between the buyer and seller, or as a buyer or seller itself. Market conditions, such as prevailing interest rates, supply and demand, and credit quality, among other variables, determine the price of the bonds, which may differ from the original price.
- Are there any sales commissions when buying Massachusetts bonds?
An investor does not pay a sales commission when Massachusetts bonds are purchased in the primary market during the retail priority order period. However, when purchasing bonds in the secondary market buyers generally pay fees directly to the investment advisor or broker for facilitating the purchase. Specifics are based on the fee arrangement the investor has with their advisor.
- Does the State of Massachusetts still issue College Savings Bonds?
Yes, the College Opportunity Bond Program is managed by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). Information about the Program can be found at MEFA’s website.
- How can I obtain a copy of an Official Statement or other State disclosure information for a particular bond issue?
Copies of Official Statements for past and current bonds issues can be find in the Financial Documents section of this website. The Commonwealth also provides certain disclosure information, including Official Statements, to Nationally Recognized Municipal Securities Information Repositories (“NRMSIR”) in accordance with the requirements of Rule 15c2-12 promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). As of July 1, 2009, as directed by the SEC, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) has maintained a continuing disclosure service through its Electronic Municipal Market Access (“EMMA”) system. EMMA’s continuing disclosure service provides free electronic access to primary municipal market disclosure documents, ongoing disclosures, trade data, and other related information on the EMMA website.
- I own Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bonds and I have a question concerning:
- An interest or principal payment
- Any notices that may have been issued to call the bonds prior to maturity
- Bond registration
- Bond maturity
- Bearer bonds
Please send your question to us through the contact link in the Who We Are section of this website.
- How are Massachusetts Bonds issued?
Commonwealth of Massachusetts bonds are generally issued in $5,000 denominations as fully registered book entry bonds, without physical certificates or coupons to clip. Bond purchases are recorded in an electronic computerized book entry form by the Depository Trust Company (“DTC”), a New York limited purpose trust company and member of the Federal Reserve System. DTC is also a registered clearing agency under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and holds securities for participants. Purchasers of book entry bonds under the DTC will receive a credit for the bonds on DTCs computerized records. Under this system individual bondholders do not receive physical certificates representing their ownership of the bonds but should receive account statements of their holdings from their securities investment advisor or broker.
- How are Massachusetts Bonds rated?
Bond ratings depend on the security features and the credit quality of particular bond programs. Some bonds might have different credit ratings assigned to them by the rating agencies due to credit enhancements, such as letters of credit; or due to escrows or reserves established to pay principal and interest on refunded issues. The credit ratings for the bond programs issued through the Treasurer’s office bonding programs may be found in the Bonds section of this website.
- What are the different bond programs issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Treasurer's office?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Treasurer’s office currently issues bonds under three programs:
General Obligation Bonds (GO) Federal Grant Anticipation Notes (GANs) Special Obligation Bonds (SO) including:
- Commonwealth Transportation Fund Bonds (CTF)
- Gas Tax Bonds (Current lien is closed)
- Convention Center Bonds
- What is a Green Bond?
A Green Bond is a General Obligation bond which is utilized to finance projects that have climate or environmental benefits. Green Bond proceeds are applied solely to finance eligible Green Projects. Green Projects fall into several broad categories, including water pollution prevention and control, and sustainable water management.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts issues Green bonds that are general obligation bonds and are secured by the full faith and credit of the Commonwealth with the same credit ratings. Massachusetts was the first issuer in the country of tax-exempt Green bonds. The Commonwealth publishes a Green bond report annually to report on the use and spending progress of Green bond proceeds. The Report can be found in the Financial Documents section of this website.