Fannie Mae Takes $9.9B Hit From Tax Law

The writedown will require the mortgage giant to seek a $3.7 billion cash infusion from the Treasury, its first draw since 2012.
Matthew HellerFebruary 14, 2018
Fannie Mae Takes $9.9B Hit From Tax Law

The new tax law is forcing Fannie Mae to seek a cash infusion from the U.S. Treasury for the first time since 2012.

The mortgage giant said Wednesday it took a $9.9 billion writedown in the fourth quarter to account for the diminished value of deferred tax assets due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

With the writedown, Fannie Mae suffered a net loss of $6.5 billion in the fourth quarter and a net worth deficit of $3.7 billlion as of Dec. 31. “To eliminate the company’s net worth deficit, the company expects the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency will submit a request to Treasury on the company’s behalf for $3.7 billion,” it said in a news release.

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The government rescued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing crisis in 2008 with a combined $187 billion taxpayer bailout. Fannie Mae hasn’t taken money from Treasury since 2012, and has made more than $130 billion in dividend payments since 2013, more than repaying its $116 billion bailout.

Fannie Mae had warned in its third-quarter 10-Q that “if legislation significantly lowering the U.S. corporate income tax rate is enacted, we expect to incur a significant net loss and net worth deficit.”

The new tax law reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, the first reduction to that rate in 15 years. With the lower tax rate, deferred tax assets are now worth less, resulting in a wave of accounting losses in corporate America since the law went into effect.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are required to send all of their profits to the Treasury but in the third quarter it withheld $2.352 billion as part of an agreement between FHFA and the government. “As it turned out, [that money] was not enough to cover the losses it suffered in the fourth quarter thanks to the Republican tax plan,” HousingWire said.

The writedown “was an expected, one-time outcome of the tax bill and is not a reflection of our underlying business, which remains strong,” Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos said.