The Chicago Tribune reports that DeKalb County, in conjunction with other Illinois counties, filed a lawsuit in federal court last Thursday against the FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would force them to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of uncollected real estate transfer taxes due over the past five years. In Illinois, the tax is $0.50 for every $500 of a property's value. The collected taxes are deposited with the state, while Illinois' 102 counties collect $0.25 for every $500 of value for themselves.
John Acardo, county clerk and recorder for DeKalb County, says that the FHFA and its government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) owe approximately $40,000 in unpaid taxes. ‘Forty-thousand dollars is a sheriff deputy for us,’ says Acardo. ‘It can really go a long way for necessities we have to have in our county.’
Last Friday, the FHFA filed its own lawsuit in federal court against Illinois and the county recorders in DeKalb, Will, Winnebago, Whiteside, Kendall and Kane counties. In its lawsuit, the FHFA is seeking to validate its claim that the GSEs are exempt from the state and county taxes.
‘The Federal Housing Finance Agency recognizes the difficulties faced by local officials that are struggling with shrinking tax bases,’ the agency said in a statement. ‘However, FHFA must resist when local governments impose unlawful tax-raising programs on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that, in turn, create a cost for taxpayers across the country.’
The FHFA's lawsuit is the second time this year that the agency has used the federal courts to validate its claims of tax exemption. In March, a federal judge ruled against the FHFA in its legal fight against Oakland County, Mich., which claimed that it was owed more than $1 million in unpaid taxes from the FHFA and the GSEs. The FHFA is appealing that ruling.