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Fannie, Freddie Sued in Florida Over Transfer Taxes

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Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the home mortgage-finance companies now under government control, were accused by Miami-Dade County, Florida, of failing to pay transfer taxes when they took ownership and sold thousands of foreclosed properties.

Harvey Ruvin, clerk of the courts for Miami-Dade County, sued the mortgage finance companies in federal court in Miami Oct. 29 alleging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac improperly claimed they’re exempt from paying the tax, which amounts to 60 cents per $100 of the value of single-family residences.

“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are parties to thousands of real estate transactions, particularly here in South Florida, and they are shirking their responsibility to pay their fair share of transfer taxes,” Adam M. Schachter, a lawyer for the county, said in an e-mailed statement.

The Miami-Dade lawsuit is the latest jurisdiction to sue the companies seeking to recoup transfer taxes. Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Montgomery County, Ohio, have similar lawsuits pending in federal courts. Hernando County, Florida, sued the companies in federal court in Tampa in June.

Miami-Dade claims that tax exemptions for federal agencies don’t apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because, while federally chartered, “they are private corporations and not government entities,” according to the lawsuit.

Brad German, a spokesman for Freddie Mac, and Andrew Wilson, a spokesman for Fannie Mae, didn’t respond to e-mail messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Ruvin v. Federal National Mortgage Association, 12-cv-23917, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

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

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