As of Monday, July 30, 2012
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ALBANY, Ga. — Former Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges asked the Dougherty County Commission Monday to be the lead Georgia county in a national class-action lawsuit against mortgage lenders Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Hodges, who works for the law firm that is bringing the action, told commissioners that his firm believes that the two mortgage giants went years without paying any transfer taxes on the properties they were handling.
A similar lawsuit filed in Ohio claims Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wrongfully claimed exemptions between 2002 and 2008 from payment of transfer taxes despite receiving more than $183 billion in federal bailout funds, according to news reports.
Transfer taxes are a source of income for local governments. In Georgia, state law requires a $1 tax for every $1,000 of value being transferred. Each county has the option of enacting a tax of up to $3 for every $1,000 as well.
Hodges said there would be no cost to the county if it joins the suit. He also said his firm gets paid only if a reward is granted and then gets a percentage of the amount awarded.
Still, commissioners were concerned over whether joining the suit as an actual plaintiff would obligate local taxpayers. Hodges assured them it would not.
Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard directed County Attorney Spencer Lee to get with Hodges and review the details before bringing a detailed presentation back to the board next week.