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Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Exempt From Michigan Transfer Tax

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC) are exempt from Michigan’s state and local real estate transfer taxes, a U.S. appeals court ruled, overturning a lower-court decision.

The government-owned home-mortgage finance companies were sued by a Michigan county which argued that a congressionally authorized exemption from “all taxation” didn’t apply to state and county real estate transfer levies.

“The statutes at issue here plainly state that the defendants are exempt from ‘all taxation,’” U.S. Circuit Judge David McKeague wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel in Cincinnati, reversing a ruling by a judge in Detroit. “We are not in a position to second-guess Congress and create a new exception in the statute,” he said.

Today’s ruling is the latest in a line of similar suits across the country brought against Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac to recover the taxes. A federal judge in Maryland this month dismissed a similar claim brought by that state’s Montgomery County.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee $5.2 trillion in mortgages and back more than two-thirds of mortgages currently being originated.

The case is County of Oakland v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, 12-2135, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Zajac in Washington at azajac@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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