original issue discount

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Original Issue Discount

The difference between a bond's face value and the amount for which it is sold by the issuer. Many bonds, especially those with low interest rates, are issued at a price less than par in order to entice buyers. Generally, the lower the interest rate, the greater the original issue discount, with zero-coupon bonds having the largest. Short of default, the original issue discount is a guaranteed profit for a bondholder, as bonds must be redeemed at face value. It is considered a form of interest and may be taxed as such.

Original issue discount.

A bond or other debt security that is issued at less than par but can be redeemed for full par value at maturity is an original issue discount security.

The appeal, from an investor's perspective, is being able to invest less up front while anticipating full repayment later on.

Issuers like these securities as well because they don't have to pay periodic interest. Instead, the interest accrues during the term of the bond so that the total interest when combined with the principal equals the full par value at maturity.

Zero-coupon bonds are a popular type of original issue discount security. The drawback, from the investor's perspective is that the imputed interest that accumulates is taxable each year even though that interest has not been paid.

The exceptions are interest on municipal zero-coupons, which are tax exempt, or on zeros held in a tax-deferred or tax-exempt accounts.

original issue discount

See imputed interest.