Hard to tell. Everything about the Fed is (deliberately) wrapped in mists of ambiguity. As the populist chairman of the House Banking Committee Wright Patman of Texas once said, "Constitutionally, the Federal Reserve is a pretty queer duck." Spurred on by Patman, the District of Columbia's tax collector at one time badgered the Fed to pay property taxes on its Constitution Avenue headquarters building. The Fed claimed it was a public institution, hence tax-exempt; countering this, it was argued that -- since commercial banks held stock in Federal Reserve Banks -- the Fed was a creature of the private sector, hence was taxable. Things got so heated that the District of Columbia threatened to seize the Fed's headquarters and auction it off. After years of court wrangling, the Fed's view -- as always! --prevailed.
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