WASHINGTON - The Federal National Mortgage Association's chairman, James Johnson, said Fannie Mae's exemption from state and local income taxes "was designed to prevent Fannie Mae from being viewed as the savior of any one community's fiscal woes.

"Our obligation to every jurisdiction is to be its reliable source of home mortgage funds, not tax revenues," Mr. Johnson said in an editorial page article in Monday's Washington Post.

Legislation has been offered in the District of Columbia City Council to recommend that Congress lift the association's exemption from state and local taxes. The district is in the midst of a financial crisis.

In his article, Mr. Johnson said Fannie Mae had "been an outstanding corporate citizen and partner with the city." He said the exemption from state and local taxes "is not some loophole in the tax code" but, rather, "a function of longstanding national housing policy, a critical element of our congressional charter, and a core component of our unique responsibility to housing and homeownership in America."

Mr. Johnson said Fannie Mae had invested $2.5 billion in the district during the past five years, paid more than $2.6 million in property taxes there in 1994, and paid more than $1 billion in federal income taxes last year.

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