I was reminiscing the other day about the gifts that my grandmother used to give me for my birthday and at holiday time. She wasn’t a great gift giver, especially when I would get a sweater vest with the big letter “T” etched right in the middle of the sweater. Oh yeah, I also got socks a few years which is a swell gift if you want to end up on the loser list at middle or high school. But, the one gift that didn’t mean much to me at the time and paid dividends later were the series EE savings bonds that I stuck in an envelope and let sit in my drawer until they matured. Those very bonds helped me be able to put a down payment on my first car so I can thank my grandmother for that.
With interest rates hovering at an all time low over the past seven or eight years, hardly anybody talks about buying bonds from the Government because they just flat out don’t pay any money. However, as inflation and interest rates rise, one consideration you might want to investigate is something called The I-Bond which can be found on www.treasurydirect.gov .
What Is A Series I Bond? (source: Investopedia)
A Series I-Bonds is a non-marketable, interest-bearing U.S. government savings bond that earns a combined:
1) fixed interest rate; and
2) variable inflation rate (adjusted semiannually).
Series I bonds are meant to give investors a return plus protection on their purchasing power. Additionally, the interest income is only taxable at the federal level, not at the state and local levels. Most Series I bonds are issued electronically, but it is possible to purchase paper certificates with a minimum of $50 using your income tax refund.
The two types of interest that a Series I bond earns are 1) an interest rate that is fixed for the life of the bond; and 2) another rate that is adjusted each May and November based on changes in the nonseasonally adjusted consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U). Series I bond interest is compounded every six months.
So, what am I committing to if I buy an I-Bond? (source:TreasuryDirect.gov)
As of 4/24/2017
|Current Rate:||2.76% through April 30, 2017|
|Minimum purchase:||$50 for a $50 I bond when purchasing paper bonds with your IRS tax refund|
$25 for a $25 I bond when purchased electronically via TreasuryDirect
(per calendar year):
|$10,000 in TreasuryDirect and $5,000 in paper bonds purchased with IRS tax refunds|
|Denominations:||Paper bonds with your tax refund: $50, $100, $200, $500, $1,000|
Electronic bonds via TreasuryDirect: purchase to the penny for $25 or more
|Issue Method:||Paper bonds with your tax refund or electronic issue in TreasuryDirect accounts|
Rates & Terms
- I bonds have an annual interest rate derived from a fixed rate and a semiannual inflation rate.
- Interest, if any, is added to the bond monthly and is paid when you cash the bond.
- I bonds are sold at face value; i.e., you pay $50 for a $50 bond.
- Minimum term of ownership: 1 year
- Interest-earning period: 30 years
- Early redemption penalties:
- Before 5 years, forfeit 3 most recent months’ interest
- After 5 years, no penalty
- Savings bonds are exempt from taxation by any State or political subdivision of a State, except for estate or inheritance taxes.
- Interest earnings are subject to Federal income tax.
- Interest earnings may be excluded from Federal income tax when used to finance education (see education tax exclusions).
If you go back to your childhood, most of you will recall those bonds that sat in an envelope right next to your socks in your drawer. With the current environment and the Fed suggesting that rates may go up twice more here in 2017, this just might be a great time to put the “I” in your overall strategy.