# What is phantom or imputed interest?

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## What is phantom or imputed interest?

When you don’t pay interest on your loan or credit card balance, the lender may charge you a “phantom” or “imputed” interest rate. This is the rate the lender would have charged you if you had paid interest. The phantom rate may be lower than the actual interest rate on your account.

## How is phantom or imputed interest calculated?

When a bond is sold at a discount, the purchaser pays less than the face (or par) value of the bond. The amount of the discount is considered to be interest, even though no payments are actually made until the bond matures. This “phantom” or “imputed” interest is taxable as ordinary income in the year that the bond is purchased.

The calculation of phantom interest is relatively simple. If a \$1,000 bond has an annual coupon rate of 6%, and it is selling at a discount of \$950, the formula for calculating phantom interest would be:

Phantom Interest = (\$1,000 – \$950) x 6% = \$30

This means that the purchaser would pay \$950 for the bond, and would recognize \$30 of interest income in the year that the bond was purchased. When the bond matures, the investor would receive \$1,000 from the issuer.

## What are the benefits of phantom or imputed interest?

The main benefit of phantom or imputed interest is that it allows individuals to defer taxes on a large sum of money for a longer period of time than if they had to pay taxes on the interest earned each year. By deferring taxes, individuals can reinvest their money and grow their wealth more quickly. Additionally, phantom or imputed interest can be used to minimize estate taxes.

View comparable articles on article about what is a bond equivalent yield, or article call risks on treasury bonds explained.

## What are the drawbacks of phantom or imputed interest?

There are a few drawbacks to phantom or imputed interest. For one, it can be difficult to calculate the amount of interest accurately. This can lead to individuals either overpaying or underpaying their taxes. Additionally, phantom interest may be considered a “hidden” form of income, which some people may feel is unfair.