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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



June 13, 2007 | Roger McEowen


September 3, 2007 | Erin Herbold


Here, the property owners appealed a district court decision finding that the county held a prescriptive easement across their property.  An easement by prescription is similar to the concept of adverse possession.  In Iowa,  if an individual possesses someone else’s land in an open and notorious fashion with an intent to take it away from them, such person (known as an adverse possessor) becomes the true property owner after ten years. 

September 13, 2007 | Erin Herbold


September 21, 2007 | Erin Herbold


The Iowa Court of Appeals has decided still another boundary dispute case. This time, the court’s opinion illustrates the peril of relying on neighborly accommodation to establish a boundary. 

October 22, 2007 | Erin Herbold


October 15, 2008 | Erin Herbold



The doctrine of equitable mortgage is a long-standing form of security interest in Iowa. Although there may be an absence of a mortgage instrument or a recording, state courts often find the existence of a mortgage if clear, convincing, and satisfactory evidence indicates the parties intended to form a debtor/creditor relationship. This case involved a land transaction and whether it was more properly viewed as a sale and leaseback, with option to purchase, or as an equitable mortgage.  


Claiming ownership by adverse possession requires proof of the elements- that possession was hostile, actual, open, exclusive and continuous, for at least ten years. But, must a claim for adverse possession be based on a belief of ownership arising from the establishment of the elements? If so, can adverse possession ever arise apart from a boundary dispute?