On May 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit overturned a district court decision and held that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are exempt from state and local real estate transfer taxes. Oakland v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, No.12-2135/2136, 2013 WL 2149964 (6th Cir. May 20, 2013). In this case, as in other similar cases pending around the country, Michigan counties and the state of Michigan sued to recover state and local real estate transfer taxes from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHFA for property transfers made by those entities. The appeals court held that Congress expressly exempted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from “all taxation,” including all state and local taxation, when it chartered those institutions and that it applied the same exemption to the FHFA as conservator in the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act. The court rejected the state and local entities’ argument that the phrase “all taxation” applies only to direct taxes and not excise taxes. The court added that Congress specifically carved out real property taxes from the “all taxation” exemption, but did not carve out the types of transfer taxes at issue in this case. The court vacated the district court’s order and remanded with direction that the district court enter summary judgment for the FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. In a statement issued after the decision, one Michigan county stated that it plans to seek Supreme Court review.
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Sixth Circuit holds Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac exempt from local taxes
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