Bond Cap Allocation Program

Since its inception in 1987, the Bond Cap Allocation Program has approved more than $15.3 billion in tax-exempt private activity bond issuing authority for a variety of projects in Washington state. The program authorizes the issuance of bonds under the federal bond volume cap, but does not directly fund or finance projects. Funds used for projects receiving permission to issue tax-exempt private activity bonds come from private investors who purchase the bonds, not from governmental entities.

Washington's Allocation Grows by $8.3 Million

The federal government bases each state’s annual Bond Cap allocation on its population. Washington State’s population increased by 79,302 during 2019, according to the U.S. Census. Thus, our tax-exempt private activity bond authority available for the 2020 calendar year has increased by roughly $8.3 million to a total of more than $799 million.


Calculation for Washington's 2020 Allocation:

State Population:7,614,893
Per Capita Multiplier:$105
Total Bond Cap Available:$799,563,765

Initial Allocations by Category:

Exempt Facilities:20.0% of Allocation$159,912,573
Housing:33.6% of Allocation$268,653,426
Housing (Local Housing Authorities)8.4% of Allocation$67,163,356
Small Issue:25.0% of Allocation$199,890,941
Student Loans:5.0% of Allocation$39,978,188
Remainder and Redevelopment:8.0% of Allocation$63,965,101

The Bond Cap allocation is the total amount of borrowing that qualifying types of private projects are allowed to do each year at less expensive tax-exempt rates under federal law. The lenders (bond purchasers) for these projects are private investors. No governmental funds are involved.

For more information on how the allocation of private activity bond issuing authority works, see the Bond Cap Program’s 2018 Biennial Report (PDF) or contact Program Manager Allan Johnson.

Energy Conservation Winding Down

Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds were first authorized in October 2008, and Washington received $67,944,000.  Much of this bond authority was given to local jurisdictions.

Some cities and counties issued these bonds. However, other jurisdictions did not have eligible projects.

In order to better use this resource, Washington developed a unique approach of consolidating remaining QECB authority with the state Housing Finance Commission.

Skagit County retains its authority, but the rest of QECB funds allocated to jurisdictions have been used or re-allocated to the commission.

Contact us or the commission if you would like to learn more about remaining QECB capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bond Cap

We are a federally-authorized program that regulates what are referred to as “tax-exempt private activity bonds.” That includes reviewing and approving projects within our state to ensure compliance with federal and state laws.

It is a ceiling — or cap — on the amount of tax-exempt private activity bonds a state may issue each year.

Tax-exempt private activity bonds provide lower-cost financing for eligible projects. Tax-exempt means the bond investor does not have to pay federal taxes on interest earned on the bonds. Private activity bonds are a financing option for projects that have a substantial benefit for private business or individuals, but also provide significant benefits to the public. Unless authorized under Bond Cap, private activity bonds do not qualify for tax-exempt status.

Projects are eligible if they fit into one of four categories: Small-issue manufacturing, housing (both multifamily and single family), exempt (capital) facilities, and student loans. Businesses or developers work with public authorities to develop projects and issue the bonds for financing.

A private or government entity submits a request for bond financing to a bond issuing authority. The issuing authority assesses the financing options. If the project qualifies for tax-exempt private activity bonds, the issuing authority submits an application to the Bond Cap Program. Generally the issuer will only submit the request after all other financing is in place, the project is at an advanced stage of readiness, and they are confident the bonds will be sold. The Bond Cap Program reviews the application and, if it approves the project, awards a Certificate of Allocation to the issuing authority. The certificate allows the issuing authority to issue the tax-exempt bonds. The bonds must be issued by the deadline stated in the certificate, generally no later than December 15 of the same year. Go here for applications and other forms.

The federal bond cap laws, first enacted in 1986, specify the total volume of tax-exempt private activity bonds — and other bonds with volume caps, such as Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds — that may be issued annually in each state. Federal law also describes what types of projects are eligible for each type of bond, Go here (see right sidebar) for links to statutes and rules. State law divides the state’s total bond cap by percentage among the eligible project types, and provides guidance for estimating the public value of projects and prioritizing allocations. State laws also regulate issuing authorities as well as the issuance of industrial development bonds, many of which use bond cap allocations.