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September 3, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Many are reeling from the damage caused by the derecho which tore through the Midwest on August 10, 2020. Farmers lost grain bins, outbuildings, crops, and much more. Clean up is ongoing with hundreds of trees uprooted and strewn across lawns. This post provides an overview of some of the tax issues associated with the destruction, clean-up, and rebuilding.

On September 2, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the award of damages to a landlord for the breach of a pasture lease. The court declined to address the merits of the case because the tenant failed to preserve error.

August 31, 2020 | Kitt Tovar

Iowa land is is some of the most productive in the world. As settlers began arriving to the area, they encountered many swamps and sloughs making agriculture production difficult. To address the excess water, individual property owners drained their land using underground pipes, pumps, and open ditches to move excess surface water away from cropland.

August 29, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The period for making Paycheck Protection Program loans through the CARES Act ended August 8. The program enabled 5.2 million loans, with $525 billion in proceeds disbursed to U.S. small businesses. When all was said and done, nearly $137 billion was left on the table.

August 28, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On August 28, 2020, IRS issued Notice 2020-65, 2.5 pages of guidance related to the President’s August 8 payroll tax deferral Memorandum (Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster).


On August 25, 2020, Governor Reynolds announced that she was allocating $100 million of Iowa CARES Act relief funds to new agricultural programs created to offset the impact of COVID-19 on farmers and renewable fuel businesses.

August 19, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals illustrates how redemption works after a farm foreclosure and warns debtors that they must strictly follow the letter of the law to redeem their land.

Update: On August 28, 2020, IRS issued guidance on this new program. Read about it here.

August 2, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

As of September 2, no progress has been made on a stimulus package. Congress returns from the Labor Day Recess on September 8.

On July 22, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a case seeking to set aside fraudulent transfers of a farm and three parcels of real estate. The court affirmed the district court’s order setting aside the transfer of the three parcels of land, but reversed the decision to set aside the transfer of the farm. The court ruled that the statute of limitations prevented the court from setting aside the otherwise fraudulent transfer of the farm.

Despite the recess for COVID-19, the Iowa Legislature passed many laws this term, many of them effective July 1, 2020. Below is summary of the new Iowa laws impacting agricultural producers and rural landowners.

On July 22, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion regarding a petition to foreclose a mechanic’s lien and claim for breach of contract. After a working relationship soured, a contractor attempted to foreclose a mechanic’s lien and claimed he was still owed compensation for services performed. Because there was no written contract or accounting of payments, the court relied on the district court’s findings and affirmed the ruling dismissing the mechanic’s lien and finding that the homeowners reasonably compensated the contractor for his services.

On July 22, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming a Board of Adjustment’s grant of an area variance. The Board properly considered all evidence and accurately applied Iowa law when granting a variance to prevent unnecessary hardship.

On July 22, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion regarding a trustee’s request for fees and expenses incurred in administering a trust. The court affirmed the lower court’s ruling finding that the trustee was only entitled to a small portion of the claimed fees and expenses because she had not fulfilled her obligations to the trust or the beneficiary—likely in order to preserve trust assets for herself.

July 27, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Called the 2020 Omnibus Bill, HF 2641 makes a number of changes to Iowa tax law. Signed into law by the Governor on June 29, 2020, the primary intent of the bill was to streamline the administration of Iowa’s tax laws and coordinate their interaction with federal law.

On July 22, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion reversing a district court decision interpreting a family trust. The district court had ruled that the income beneficiary was entitled to a distribution of the gross income of the trust, but her children argued that she was only entitled to the net income. The court agreed, ruling that a settlement agreement and the Iowa Uniform Principal and Income Act required a net income distribution.

June 23, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On June 23, 2020, IRS issued Notice 2020-51, providing guidance for the waiver of 2020 required minimum distributions (RMD) made possible by the CARES Act. The guidance also provides sample plan amendments.

June 23, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: On July 4, 2020, President Trump signed S.4116 into law. This new law allows new PPP loans to be made through August 8, 2020. The law does not allow businesses that have already obtained a loan to receive a second one.

June 22, 2020 | Kitt Tovar

On June 10, 2020, Governor Reynolds signed SF 2413 into law. The law went into effect immediately. Among other things,[i] the bill added new Iowa Code § 716.7A to prohibit “food operation trespass”:

A person commits food operation trespass by entering or remaining on the property of a food operation without the consent of a person who has real or apparent authority to allow the person to enter or remain on the property.


On June 19, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the Iowa Department of Revenue rationally interpreted Iowa Code § 422.7(21)(a) to prevent a typical cash rental landlord from taking the Iowa capital gain deduction. Christensen v. Iowa Department of Revenue, No. 19-0261 (Iowa Sup. Ct.


On Friday, June 19, IRS issued Notice 2020-50, expanding the definition of “qualified individuals” eligible for coronavirus-related distributions from eligible retirement accounts. The Notice also provides detailed guidance for coronavirus-related distributions and expanded plan loans made available by the CARES Act.

On June 12, 2020, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion concerning the right of first refusal to purchase farmland. The plaintiffs did not seek specific performance, but instead sought monetary damages for an alleged breach of contract. The Court found that the statute of limitations for real estate transactions did not apply and no other grounds warranted granting summary judgment on the issue.  


On June 16, the Small Business Administration and the Treasury issued guidance on forgiveness, as it applies to the self-employed, in light of the Paycheck Protecti

June 17, 2020 | Steve Johnson and Kristine Tidgren

On June 16, 2020, the Center for Agricultural Law & Taxation hosted a crop marketing seminar presented by Dr. Steve Johnson, Extension Farm Management Specialist. In this webinar, Steve reviewed both old & new crop supply/demand & cash price projections, highlighted crop marketing strategies & tools and featured written crop marketing plans for a 1,000 acre row-crop example farm. The webinar also included an extensive Q & A period.

Click here to watch a replay of the webinar.

June 15, 2020 | Kitt Tovar
June 15, 2020 | Steve Johnson and Kristine Tidgren

In this one-hour event, farm management specialist Steve Johnson and the Center's Kristine Tidgren provided an update to farmland owners on key farm program and legal developments. Kristine discussed the status of dicamba-based herbicides and reviewed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs). Steve discussed Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)  payments, 2020 crop budgets and Iowa State University's 2020 Farmland Cash Rental Rate Survey.


On June 8, 2020, IRS and Treasury issued proposed regulations (REG-109755-19) that will (once they become final) open the door for those involved with health care sharing ministries and direct primary care arrangements to realize tax savings for the cost of these programs.


Update: On June 19, the Ninth Circuit denied the plaintiff's emergency motion to enforce the vacature and hold EPA in contempt.

June 6, 2020 | Kitt Tovar

Last month, the attorneys general for eleven different states petitioned the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate potential anticompetitive practices in the cattle industry. The letter to the DOJ expressed concern over the concentration of meat packers in the cattle industry as well as the difference between the low live cattle price and the healthy price of beef products.

Update: Late on June 8, the U.S. EPA issued a final cancellation order for the registrations of the three herbicides impacted by the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

May 29, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On May 29, 2020, Katie Kramer and Justin Muir, agricultural program specialists from the Iowa USDA-FSA office, and ISU agricultural economist Chad Hart joined us for a webinar on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The panel reviewed eligibility information and the application process for the new program and answered a number of producer questions.


Please join us for a free webinar on Friday, May 29, to review the CFAP application process.

On May 13, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion concerning the award of attorney fees in a farm lease dispute. The court found the contractual attorney-fee clause of a farm lease allowed attorney fees to be awarded to the prevailing party, but this amount did not include the fees incurred after a settlement offer.


Update: Late on May 13, Treasury extended the deadline for repaying a PPP loan without review from May 14 to May 18.


Update: On May 13, 2020, SBA and Treasury issued additional guidance providing a safe harbor and extending the dealine for returning a loan to May 18.

Note: On May 4, SBA began accepting applications for EIDL advances from agricultural businesses only.

It’s official. The President signed H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, into law today. This law provides another opportunity for some small businesses, including agricultural producers, to get in line for a potential loan to help them through the next few months.


Late on April 30, 2020, IRS issued Notice 2020-32, stating that no deduction is allowed for an expense that is otherwise deductible if the payment of the expense results in forgiveness of a covered loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

On April 29, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion concerning an insurance company’s alleged breach of contract with a hog farmer. The court concluded that the farmer’s equipment was damaged by a power surge, but that the electrical system for the buildings was not harmed by a power surge. The court also modified the loss-of-income award to be within policy limits.

On April 29, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s ruling finding a classification of property to be residential rather than agricultural. The court found the primary use of the property was not agricultural and the property owner did not have a genuine intention to profit.  


The question before the U.S. Supreme Court was whether the Clean Water Act requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, in this case, groundwater. Many had hoped the Court’s answer to this question would clarify longtime ambiguity under the CWA. But given the complexity of the issue, that was not to be.


A bankruptcy court recently ruled in a Chapter 12 case that federal and state taxing authorities do not have the right to offset a refund with tax debt stripped of its priority by 11 U.S.C. § 1232. This was a court’s first opportunity to rule on this question since the passage of the Family Farmer Bankruptcy Clarification Act of 2017.


The Iowa Supreme Court recently issued a decision in a key case involving competing claims by a secured lender and a grain elevator over the costs of storing and drying the grain. The April 17, 2020, case--MidWestOne Bank v. Heartland Co-op, No.

April 20, 2020 | Kitt Tovar

On April 15, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a defendants’ motion for quiet title on the establishment of a new boundary line. The court found the two neighbors treated a row of culverts as the boundary line for a period of more than ten years, thereby creating a boundary by acquiescence.

April 18, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Late Friday, April 17, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the creation of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

On April 15, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a breach of contract case brought by a subcontractor against a business owner and his LLC to collect for work done during a building remodel. The court ruled that the district court incorrectly pierced the veil of the LLC and imposed personal liability on the LLC owner.

On April 15, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals reversed a jury verdict in favor of plaintiffs in a breach of contract action against their contractor. The court ruled that the plaintiffs did not complete the required terms and conditions under the contract and that further performance by the contractor was excused.

On April 15, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling finding a boundary by acquiescence and denying damages for a trespass claim. Because previous adjoining landowners treated a cement seam as the boundary line for more than ten years, they created a new boundary through the doctrine of boundary by acquiescence. Although determining that a new boundary was created, the court ruled that the prevailing landowner presented insufficient evidence of trespass damages.

The CARES Act created three temporary unemployment programs: the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. These programs are 100% federally funded through a voluntary agreement between individual states and the Department of Labor. With federal guidance issued by the Department, we have more information on how these programs are to be implemented.

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