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But if one already has other income to put one in to a particular marginal tax rate, wouldn't it be better to use the marginal tax rates in the comparisons?

No. Because while you may be paying 31%, you are actually averaging your tax rate. And it is the overall tax rate that is important, not the marginal rate.

In the end all that counts is how much is left in your pocket when all is said and done. And if more is left in your pocket via a taxable investment why woul you do a non-taxable investment.

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