UPDATE: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, And The FHFA Are Exempt From Real Estate Transfer Taxes


In County of Oakland v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Sixth Circuit published an opinion clarifying that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing & Finance Agency ("FHFA") are exempt from all taxation, which includes state and county real estate transfer taxes. This was an important decision because many counties throughout the nation have been suing, or contemplating suing, these entities for similar violations of other states' laws. 

In this case, several different counties in Michigan, along with the State of Michigan, sought to recover transfer taxes from the defendants for real property transfers recorded by the defendants in Michigan. When Congress created each of the defendants, however, Congress expressly exempted them from "all" state and local taxes, except for taxes on real property. Importantly, the parties agreed here that the transfer taxes are excise taxes, not taxes on real property.

The district court found in favor of the plaintiff because it said that "all taxation" applied only to direct taxes, not excise taxes.  As the Sixth Circuit said, though, "A straightforward reading of the statute leads to the unremarkable conclusion that when Congress said 'all taxation' it meant all taxation." Also importantly, the Sixth Circuit noted that Congress created a carve-out from all taxation by permitting taxes on real property, but did not provide a similar carve-out for the type of transfer taxes at issue here. In the end, the Sixth Circuit found that the plain and unambiguous language of the federal statute controlled and said that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHFA are exempt from the real estate transfer taxes.


Written by:

Published In:


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Varnum LLP | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.