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June 2, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On May 28, 2021, the Treasury Department released the "Green Book," a description of revenue proposals within President Biden’s fiscal year 2022 budget.

On May 12, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment in favor of the executor in a will contest filed by the decedent’s son. After the son failed to respond to numerous requests for admission during discovery, the district court deemed the unanswered questions admitted and entered judgment for the executor. In affirming the judgment, the Court of Appeals found that there was no evidence of “insane delusions” or undue influence and that the executor would be prejudiced if the court allowed the son to withdraw his answers.

On May 21, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court determined that a district court had improperly reformed farm leases entered into between a farmer’s conservator and his family members. The decision affirmed an earlier order from the Court of Appeals that had overturned the district court’s modification. On review, the Supreme Court agreed that the conservator had the authority to enter into the leases on behalf of the ward and that the conservator did not breach its fiduciary duty.

On May 14, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court released an opinion regarding a family dispute over an LLC. The district court dissolved the LLC after disagreement broke out between several members. The Supreme Court reversed the dissolution, finding that the district court resolved the issues creating deadlock and that the LLC could fulfill its intended purpose.  

UPDATE: On June 10, a judge from the Eastern District of Wisconsin granted a motion for a temporary restraining order halting the nationwide implementation of the loan forgiveness program for socially disadvantaged farmers. The plaintiffs, twelve white farmers and ranchers from nine different states, claim the program violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S.

The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development recently posted this policy brief discussing the possible implications of the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 on the carbon market for agriculture:

The First Legal Step for an Agricultural Carbon Market is in the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021

After several late-night, homestretch sessions, the Iowa Legislature passed a sweeping tax bill, SF 619, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Reynolds shortly. The bill would modify Iowa’s income tax and property tax law in key ways.

After several years of litigation flowing from dicamba drift damage to cotton, soybeans, and other crops,[i] Monsanto (owned by parent company Bayer) agreed to enter into a Soybean Producers Master Settlement Agreement.

On April 30, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court released an opinion regarding the property tax assessment of a feed manufacturing facility. At issue was whether two stand-alone corn silos and overhead ingredient bins in the feed mill met the definition of machinery under Iowa Code § 427A.1(1)(e). The Court concluded that only the overhead ingredient bins were an integral part of the manufacturing process qualifying as tax-exempt machinery.

On April 30, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court released an opinion on the predeath transfer of farmland. In an amended petition, the administrator of the estate requested that the court set aside several allegedly fraudulent real estate transfers. Because the claim in the amended pleading did not arise out of the same transaction as the original pleading, the petition to set aside the conveyance of farmland was barred by the statute of limitations.

May 5, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

As President Biden wrapped up his first 100 days, he rolled out the last of three proposals forming the backbone of his tax and spending policies, the “Build Back Better” plan. With his COVID-19 relief plan—the American Rescue Plan—signed into law, his focus now turns to the latter two proposals, a physical infrastructure plan and a “human infrastructure” plan.

On April 30, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court entered an opinion on the testate transfer of farmland. The testator devised farmland with a 20-year sale restriction provision. The Supreme Court affirmed that the restriction created an impermissible restraint on alienation and was void.

On April 28, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling on a claim for quiet title of certain real estate. Because Iowa laws on real estate transfers are designed to promote stability, the statute of limitations barred the plaintiffs claim and the court affirmed the district court’s ruling.

April 27, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen & Guido van der Hoeven

In this video, CALT staff discuss common terminology used in the estate planning and farm succession planning process. 

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. The ARPA set aside approximately $10.4 billion for agriculture and nutrition programs to address food supply chain disruptions, provide funding for rural areas, and increase nutrition assistance. Among its relief provisions, the new law provides specific loan payment assistance to “socially disadvantaged farmer or ranchers.”

On April 14, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling on a foreclosure of agricultural real estate. After the borrower defaulted on two mortgages, the creditor petitioned to foreclose on the properties. Because the creditor gave proper notice 12 months prior to the default, the borrower no longer had the right to cure and the court affirmed the foreclosure decree.

On April 14, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling in a dispute over a conservatorship. Two sisters separately incurred substantial attorney fees in a court battle over the proposed conservatorship of their mother. The court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the mother, as the proposed protected person, would pay for her daughter’s attorney fees.

On April 14, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling regarding an interference with an easement. The plaintiff had a written easement over the neighboring property to access 40 acres of farmland. Because the defendant substantially interfered with the plaintiff’s easement rights, the court affirmed a permanent injunction entered by the lower court.

April 9, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

The 2018 Farm Bill required the USDA to create a regulatory framework for the production of hemp in the United States. States and Tribes can choose to operate under the Federal plan or submit their own plan for approval. Federal regulations require producers to obtain a license from the USDA, State, or Tribal hemp program which has jurisdiction over the intended growing location.

April 3, 2021 | Guido van der Hoeven

As farmers and ranchers approach retirement (however defined) generating an income stream to meet lifestyle needs comes into focus. An obvious resource is renting the land, either using a cash rent or crop-share model.  What about the machinery and equipment?  The farmer or rancher can decide to have an equipment sale which generates a lump-sum payment, less sales costs, but this will trigger IRC § 1245 recapture resulting in a sizable tax bill.  A second sales strategy is to sell the equipment in a piecemeal fashion over time to manage the tax bill resulting from IRC § 1245 recapture.

On March 29, 2021, the Iowa Department of Revenue announced a filing and payment extension for individual taxpayers, from April 30, 2021, to June 1, 2021.  In the same notice, IDOR provided instructions for reporting unemployment compensation on 2020 returns.

March 26, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: Sign-up for this program opened April 5. https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/apply

March 25, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

By a vote of 92-7, the Senate today passed HR 1799, the PPP Extension Act of 2021. The House had passed this bill on March 16, 2021, by a vote of 415 to 13.

March 17, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On March 17, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion regarding a will dispute. The will, among other things, created an option for certain beneficiaries to obtain ownership of the farmland subject to various terms and restrictions. Because the will gave the probate court authority to determine the reasonableness of the terms for the transfer of farmland, the court ruled that the probate court properly exercised its authority in resolving the beneficiaries’ disputes.

March 24, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen and Guido van der Hoeven

In this introduction to Farm Succession Planning video, CALT Staff discuss ten common mistakes to avoid during the estate planning process. 

March 18, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It’s been difficult enough to keep up with federal tax changes this year, let alone worry about how Iowa is treating these changes. Confusion has been complicated by the fact that many software companies have not adjusted their products to comply with Iowa law.

On March 17, 2021, IRS issued the following news release:

March 17, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On March 17, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued another opinion in a family dispute regarding the management and ownership of a trust. The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment finding that the father had breached a trust established for the benefit of his daughter.

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), H.R. 1319, into law on March 11, 2021. The $1.9 trillion package includes money for states and localities, schools, socially disadvantaged farmers, public health, small business relief, and much more.

Note: This post has been updated to include new guidance and forms published March 12 and March 18 at the bottom.

 

March 3, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Between the pandemic, a trade war, and assorted natural disasters, agricultural producers, like most other businesses, faced a difficult 2020. As many farmers file 2020 income tax returns, they and their tax professionals are sorting through unusual sources of income, analyzing whether new COVID-19 tax benefits apply, and determining how to report these items on their income tax returns.

On March 2, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit determined that the district court abused its discretion when it granted the State of Colorado’s request to stay the effective date of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in Colorado. The district court had granted the preliminary injunction, pending a determination on the merits of Colorado’s case challenging the legality of the rule.

February 27, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

With tax software missing key updates and some important questions remaining unanswered, some farmers who did not pay estimated tax by January 15 may not be in a position to file their returns by March 1.

February 27, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It’s almost March 1, which means that many farm leases around Iowa are beginning anew.[i] This key date is a good time to remind landlords of several available options to reduce the risks associated with nonpayment.

February 26, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On February 26, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion concerning whether a county board of adjustment illegally granted an area variance. Because the homeowners did not present sufficient evidence of an unnecessary hardship, the Court ruled that the board illegally granted the request for the variance.

Update: On March 11, the American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law. The new law extends the ERC through December 31, 2021, with some modifications to quarters 3 and 4. On April 2, IRS issued guidance as to the CAA expansion for quarters 1 and 2 of 2021.

On February 19, 2021, the Iowa Supreme Court considered whether an interested party can challenge the validity of a will while the testator is alive. The Court found that neither Iowa Code § 633.637 nor any other section of the Probate Code allows a predeath will challenge.

February 10, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On February 10, I had the opportunity to speak at the Illinois Soybean Association's 2021 Soybean Summit regarding recent updates to the Paycheck Protection Program and the tax law. The information in this presentation is up to date through February 10, 2021. A copy of the slides may be downloaded below.

February 9, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On February 3, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a father-son dispute over their member-managed LLC. The court recognized that the father, a farmer who created the LLC and gifted 50 percent of the shares to the son, did violate the operating agreement and engage in mismanagement. Overall, however, the court agreed with the district court that the farmer did not generally breach his fiduciary duties and did not harm the LLC through his actions as alleged in the son's derivative action.

On February 3, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals denied the request of farm borrowers to remand for a hearing on whether the district court should set aside the sale of their real property in a sheriff’s sale. The court found that any “irregularities” in the sale were due to the plaintiffs’ own actions.

February 4, 2021 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On February 4, 2021, the Iowa Department of Revenue issued guidance on its nonconformity with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

On January 21, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion interpreting an alleged oral agreement between two cattle producers. The court affirmed that because the plaintiff did not present evidence that both parties agreed to the terms of a repurchase option contract, no contract existed. Additionally, the court affirmed that the plaintiff contracted with the defendant’s LLC rather than the defendant as an individual. Therefore, the defendant was not personally liable for damages.

On January 21, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a trial decision ruling that an insurance company did not have a duty to defend its policy holder against claims for fire damage. Specifically, the court affirmed that the insured did not prove that the fire occurred on land covered under the insurance policy and that the insured did not preserve the issue of whether the location where the fire occurred qualified for coverage under a “vacant land” provision in the policy.

January 21, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On January 21, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling considering whether a county zoning Board of Adjustment properly granted an application for a wind turbine project. Despite the Board misinterpreting which ordinances were applicable, the court affirmed that the Board did rely on the relevant ordinances and factors when granting the utility company’s request. Additionally, the court affirmed that the Board gave proper notice.

December 23, 2020 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: On the evening of December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act into law.

On December 16, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion on the timeliness of a redemption of agricultural real estate sold at a sheriff’s sale. Because the assignee did not pay the full amount due within the redemption period, the redemption attempt was untimely.

On November 4, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion determining whether an assessor properly appraised a feed manufacturing facility’s machinery for property tax purposes. The court analyzed whether a feed mill and steel grain storage bins met the definition of machinery under Iowa Code chapters 427A and 427B. Machinery must be used directly in manufacturing and a necessary part of the manufacturing process, used solely for effectuating that purpose, to qualify as tax exempt machinery.

November 30, 2020 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

On November 30, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion regarding a district court’s order modifying farm leases. The court reversed the lower court’s order because the leases were not subject to judicial revision, nor was there evidence that court reformation was necessary.

Background

A farmer owned 18,000 acres of farmland. He leased approximately half of the land to family members, including his daughter, at discounted rates. Family members did not know what rate the farmer charged other family members. The farmer did not use written leases.

On November 30, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion regarding a trustee’s actions before she was replaced by judicial order. The court affirmed that the trustee’s inheritance should be reduced for tax penalties and interest incurred because she engaged in self-dealing. The court also affirmed a $20,000 trustee fee award and the denial of sanctions.

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