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Regulations have been proposed that would change fees for installment payment agreements and offers to compromise.  The new fees would be applicable beginning in 2014.  To see the proposed changes: Installment agreement table.pdf

In a recent case, a taxpayer sued the IRS after the IRS used information on the taxpayer’s return to open an FBAR investigation under 31 U.S.C. §5314. 

October 1, 2013 | Roger McEowen

House and Senate conferees continue attempts to hammer out a Farm Bill.  The present Farm Bill was extended by the ATRA provisions to September 30, 2013, and has since expired.

September 24, 2013 | Christopher R. Barondeau* and Roger A. McEowen**

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has finalized rules calling for mandatory labels indicating a meat's country of origin and production steps. The new rules, effective May 23, 2013, call for additional requirements concerning mandatory country-of-origin labeling (“COOL”) for meat products.

September 23, 2013 | Roger McEowen

Two people have been indicted by the federal prosecutors in Indiana for allegedly defrauding people by supposedly providing "government certified top-quality biodiesel."

September 3, 2013 | Roger McEowen

In mid-September the IRS issued Final Regulations designed to give guidance on how to draw the line tax-wise between currently deductible repairs and maintenance expenses that have to be capitalized.

August 29, 2013 | Roger McEowen

Beginning in 2007, a new credit is available for persons that enter into qualified arrangements with a "beginning farmer." This provision can have the potential to entirely eliminate Iowa tax for individuals that lease farm property to a beginning farmer for several years. The attachment explains the new credit with an example of its potential benefit: Iowa Beginning Farmer Tax Credit.pdf

August 19, 2013 | Roger McEowen

An emblement is a crop growing on the leased premises, and the “doctrine of emblements” gives the tenant (or the tenant’s estate) rights to the growing crop if the land is sold or the tenant dies before the crop is harvested.  The doctrine of emblements may also be involved when the landlord dies during the term of the lease and a growing crop exists.  Entitlement to the crop is fairly clear when the landlord owns a fee simple interest in the leased land – the landlord’s heirs succeed to the landlord’s share of the crop.  However, if the landlord owns less than a fee simple interest in the

It is not uncommon in farm estates for a particular child that has an interest in farming to be given an option to acquire the farmland at a particular value upon the death of the last of the parents.  Many times, these option agreements are contained in wills that were drafted years ago and set an exercise price that is much lower than current fair market land values.  That price difference can create tension between the on–farm heir and the off-farm siblings.  To make matters worse, sometimes those option agreements are only oral.  That only increases the potential for future litigation,

The IRS has recently released Draft Form 8960, the Form that will be used to report income subject to the NIIT effective for tax years beginning after 2012.  The NIIT applies to “passive” sources of income for individuals with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) above a threshold amount.  The tax applies to the lesser of “net investment income” or the excess (if any) of a taxpayer’s MAGI over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers.  Passive or “investment” sources of income that are subject to the tax include:


Banking transactions are subject to numerous rules, both at the state and federal level. This case involves application of federal statutory law and state common law to a deal that went sour.

January 22, 2008 | Roger McEowen


Iowa law provides for numerous types of liens.  For one particular type of lien, when specified services are rendered and the provider of those services is not timely paid, a lien may be asserted to secure payment.  This case involved a mechanic’s lien for unpaid plumbing services (including the cost of materials used in the job).


Iowa law contains numerous statutory liens.  One of those statutory liens – the mechanic’s lien -  was at issue in this case where the Iowa Court of Appeals was faced with the question of whether a contractor or a bank that financed the building project at issue had priority as to payment. 


November 1, 2007 | Erin Herbold


In this case, a small-town resident appealed the trial court’s denial of his petition to avoid a city ordinance requiring mandatory hook-up to the city sewer system. The resident opposed the city project from the beginning, objecting in particular to the city’s right to enter onto his property for the purpose of “constructing, installing, maintaining, and monitoring the system.” 

December 3, 2007 | Erin Herbold


January 3, 2008 | Erin Herbold


May 16, 2008 | Roger McEowen


Iowa law provides that local governments can collect fees and costs associated with the investigation of neglected livestock.  However, for a local government to recover, the correct procedure must be followed.  That was the point of law at issue in this case.  

July 18, 2008 | Roger McEowen


In 2007, Iowa Court of Appeals rendered an opinion in a legal battle over net metering that has been going on in Iowa for about 10 years. Now, the court has dismissed the plaintiffs' motion for a new trial in the most recent installment of the litigation.


A frequently litigated issue involves permitted business uses in areas that are zoned as residential.  Many local zoning ordinances are not specific concerning what business uses are permissible (and probably shouldn’t be specific in any event), and that fact leads to litigation over questionable uses.  Also, in many small-town zoning cases, local politics are involved.  All of these matters were involved in this case.


The Iowa Code (Iowa Code Sec. 483A.1) requires a fur-harvester’s license for the trapping of fur-bearing animals (including raccoons and badgers) and vests the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) with the responsibility of enforcing those rules. When an individual violates these laws for the first time, they are charged with a criminal misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses are punished more harshly and may lead to a jail sentence.  


Iowa Code §414.3 governs a municipality’s power to zone and requires that zoning regulations be made within a “comprehensive plan and be designed to preserve the availability of agricultural land” and “to encourage efficient urban development patterns.” The statute also specifies sixteen elements that a city must satisfy when adopting zoning regulations, including providing notice and an opportunity to be heard in quasi-judicial proceedings. These statutory requirements were at issue in this case.  



In Iowa, drainage districts can be formed when there will be a public benefit. Further, Iowa Code provides that drainage of surface waters from agricultural lands shall be presumed to be a public benefit. All formations constructed for these purposes, however, must be surveyed and located along the natural watercourses or natural drainage of the land as much as is practical. Sometimes, however, a drainage district will alter the natural watercourse and increase the volume of water flowing over another’s land.

September 19, 2012 | Erika Eckley


Every Iowa resident must pay Iowa income taxes. A resident for income tax purposes can be identified in two ways. The first is through the establishment of a permanent home in the state, which involves spending about half the year living in the state.  Alternatively, a domicile is another way to prove residence. Domicile is established through the intention of the individual to permanently or indefinitely reside in Iowa whenever absent from the state.


This case presents the question of whether a nonpurchase-money mortgage that refinanced an existing mortgage and advanced new funds is subject to a surviving spouse’s dower interest under Iowa Code § 633.211. 

March 1, 2011 | Erin Herbold


June 21, 2006 | Roger McEowen


March 5, 2006 | Roger McEowen


As was noted in our discussion of a January Iowa Court of Appeals opinion, boundary disputes sometimes arise in rural settings and it is possible that a survey will not settle the dispute. Instead, it is often the case that usage of the property at issue determines the actual property boundary. Another Iowa case points this rule out.

March 8, 2006 | Roger McEowen



A long-standing rule is that certain types of contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. The rule is known as the “Statute of Frauds” and dates back to a 1677 enactment of the English Parliament. One type of contract that must be in writing to be enforceable is when the subject matter involves an interest in real estate.  In Iowa, a listing agreement to sell property is subject to the rule and must be in writing to be enforceable. But, what about a verbal agreement to find a buyer for a property - is that a “listing agreement” that is subject to the rule?

May 28, 2006 | Roger McEowen


Under Iowa law, a county may designate a road as a “minimum maintenance road.” Sometimes a county will also vacate a portion of a road in conjunction with “minimum maintenance” designation. When that happens, adjacent landowners may begin to use the roadway as their own property. If a landowner also begins using the non-vacated portion of the road as their own, questions will arise as to what action is necessary to actually vest title to the non-vacated road in the landowner.

October 15, 2007 | Roger McEowen


March 1, 2007 | Roger McEowen


March 12, 2007 | Roger McEowen