Milwaukee Cnty v. Fed. Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n, No. 13-2739 (7th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
The Seventh Circuit considered appeals by Illinois and Illinois counties and a Wisconsin county of district court holdings that those governmental bodies cannot levy a tax on sales of real property by Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). Although both are now private corporations, the relevant statutes provide that they are “exempt from all taxation now or hereafter imposed by any State … or local taxing authority, except that any real property of the corporation shall be subject to State … or local taxation to the same extent as other real property,” 12 U.S.C. 1723a(c)(2), 12 U.S.C. 1452(e). The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A transfer tax is not a tax on realty. After 2008 Fannie Mae owned an immense inventory of defaulted and overvalued subprime mortgages and is under conservatorship by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The states essentially requested the court to “pierce the veil,” in recognition of the fact that if the tax is paid, it will be paid from assets or income of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but their conservator is the United States, and the assets and income are those of entities charged with a federal duty.