Fannie, Freddie Sued in Florida Over Transfer Taxes

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 (FNMA) 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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