Search Our Online Library

Discover, read, and monitor a wealth of information on your topic from several different sources.

The tax code allows an enhanced deduction for the donation of a qualified conservation easement. IRC § 170(b)(1)(E). This deduction is generally limited to 50% of the donor's “contribution base,” which is the taxpayer's adjusted gross income (computed without regard to any net operating loss carryback for the taxable year), less the value of other charitable contributions for the year. IRC § 170(b)(1)(G).

Update: On October 12, 2017, President Trump announced that he would be ending CSR payments effective October 18, 2017.

July 30, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Preparing tax returns for farmers and ranchers requires specialized knowledge of tax rules and provisions that apply only to those in the business of farming. Individuals, partnerships, and trusts and estates generally report farm income and expenses on Form 1040, Schedule F. Taxpayers use this form to calculate net gain or loss from farming. Gains or losses from the sale of farm assets are reported on Form 4797.

July 25, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently decided a case that well illustrates how contractual damages are to be calculated: the non-breaching party is generally entitled to be placed in as good a position as he or she would have occupied had the contract not been breached, nothing more, nothing less.

On June 30, 2017, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a 1977 injunction requiring a railway company to rebuild a dike, expired under a 20-year limitations period set forth in Iowa Code § 614.1(6). Consequently, a drainage district’s action seeking to enforce that injunction was dismissed.

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently interpreted a manure easement agreement and agreed that a farmer was entitled to damages for a hog facility’s breach of the agreement. The court did reduce the damages from $70,433.93 to $43,909.99 after finding that the farmer had failed to prove damages for the year he planted soybeans.

With the ink barely dry on the $217.7 million Kansas class verdict, Judge Lungstrum has set forth the plan for trying the additional class claims comprising the Kansas multi-district litigation.

June 29, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On June 27, 2017, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps took the first step to rescind and replace the embattled Clean Water Rule, also called "Waters of the United States" or WOTUS.

June 29, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The decision to lease farm ground comes with many choices: cash rent, crop share, or some combination thereof. Parties to a lease must understand that each option has distinct income tax implications. This fact sheet[1] provides a brief overview of several key tax considerations associated with farmland leases, as they apply to individual landowners.[2] We will post a more comprehensive review of this topic in the next couple of months.

The jury returned a big verdict against Syngenta this morning in the first trial of the massive Syngenta GMO litigation.

Today Senate Republican leaders unveiled a “discussion draft” of their bill to replace many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As with the American Health Care Act of 2017 that passed the House on May 4, 2017, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA) is designed to stay within the constraints of the budget reconciliation process. As such, the bill could pass with the approval of only 50 Republican Senators (the Vice President could cast the tie-breaking vote). It also means that the BCRA cannot include provisions that do not change the level of spending, revenues, or the debt limit. In other words, the provisions have to be budget related, and they cannot increase the deficit for any period beyond the budget reconciliation period (usually 10 years). These restrictions greatly limit the extent to which the bill can actually “repeal and replace” the ACA.

This week I had the pleasure of attending the Iowa Bar Annual Meeting. The meeting allows attorneys from around the state to gather in Des Moines, connect with colleagues, and attend some great educational sessions. The Agricultural Law Section of the Bar always provides its own track of programming focused on issues important to rural clients.

Last summer, a federal court found a California landowner liable for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA)[1] because he tilled a 450-acre parcel of his land to plant wheat. He is now preparing for an August 14, 2017, trial. At issue in the trial will be (1) the scope of his CWA violations, (2) the appropriateness of the United States’ requests for restoration and mitigation, and (3) the amount of his civil penalty. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a blow to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week when it vacated the portion of a 2015 FAA Rule requiring registration of model aircraft.

The Iowa Supreme Court recently blessed a class action, paving the way for roughly 4,000 Muscatine residents to potentially obtain damages from a local corn wet milling plant.

May 16, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

“Ademption” isn’t a doctrine often discussed outside of law school classrooms. But a recent case from the Iowa Supreme Court signals that it’s time for a refresher. Steinberg v. Steinberg, 2017 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 44 (April 28, 2017) illustrates the sometimes unexpected impact this doctrine can have on an estate plan.

Iowa SF 505, signed into law on May 9, 2017, authorizes tax-preferred “First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts” (FTHSA). These new accounts will be available beginning in tax year 2018.

The Iowa Legislature’s 2017 session drew to a close on April 22, 2017. For agriculture, the session was largely marked by the state’s revenue shortfall, which left tax cuts important to farmers on the table. It also meant the session adjourned for another year without a long-term water quality funding mechanism.

As President Trump’s first 100 days were winding down, his Administration unveiled a purported tax reform proposal designed to stimulate “economic growth” and increase “American jobs.” The proposal was unveiled during a press conference April 26. It was accompanied by a one-page list of bullet points.

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated an EPA final rule that had been in place for nine years. The Rule exempted most farms from CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements for air releases from animal waste. 

April 18, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: The 2017 legislative session ended without passage of any legislation relating to the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit. As such, the changes detailed in this posting will occur January 1, 2018.

April 11, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Last December, we told you that the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), the USDA division tasked with interpreting the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, 7 U.S.C.

April 9, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A jury returned a verdict in favor of the Kansas class plaintiffs in the amount of $217.7 million on June 23, 2017. Read more here.

Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court considered its first case challenging an Iowa Department of Revenue’s (IDOR) assessment of corporate income tax since 2010.[i] In both cases, the taxpayers lost, but this time it was because the taxpayer did not have a taxable nexus in Iowa.

March 29, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Today, Governor Branstad signed SF 447 into law. The new law, designed to curb damage awards in nuisance cases brought against responsible animal feeding operations, went into effect immediately.

March 18, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: On April 11, 2017, DMWW announced that it would not be appealing this decision.

Here is an updated list on the pleadings and resources on the Des Moines Water Works litigation. 

Last year, many of us were surprised by an Iowa Court of Appeals decision that held that a single grazing horse was sufficient to establish a farm tenancy. Why did this matter?

March 9, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Update: The 2017 Iowa Legislative Session ended on April 22, 2017. No water quality legislation was enacted.

Update: On March 24, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelled a vote scheduled for that day on the Republicans proposed repeal and replacement plan. Officials have stated that they will now turn their attention to tax reform.

February 28, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

HSB134 passed out of an Iowa House agricultural subcommittee on February 22. The bill would limit allowable damages in nuisance lawsuits filed against animal feeding operations that have used “existing prudent and generally utilized management practices reasonable” for their operations. The bill would also allow animal feeding operations that prevail in a nuisance lawsuit brought against them to recover reasonable attorney fees from the losing plaintiff.

February 24, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In a 4-3 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court today ruled­­­ that a 69-year-old woman was a “vulnerable elder” under Iowa’s Elder Abuse statute because of her age.

A Polk County District Court judge has ruled that the Iowa Utilities Board properly acted within its discretion in determining that the Dakota Access pipeline would promote the “public convenience and necessity.” The court also found that the Board had statutory authority to grant Dakota Access eminent domain

In a filing last evening, the parties to the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit—the Board of Water Works Trustees and the drainage districts—again showed they are miles apart in their interpretation of the law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a jury verdict awarding a brother more than $1.5 million in damages against his two sisters. The court found that substantial evidence supported the jury’s finding that the sisters exerted undue influence over their father, causing him to execute a will that disinherited the brother.

January 31, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Last week, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s order specifically enforcing a partition fence agreement between neighbors. The opinion illustrates that such an agreement does not necessarily preclude costly litigation.  It also demonstrates the importance of engaging legal counsel at the beginning of a dispute.

January 27, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Supreme Court today issued a ruling favoring the drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties in the high profile Des Moines Water Works nitrate litigation. This ruling effectively means that the federal court will enter summary judgment in favor of the districts with respect to DMWW’s claims for money damages and injunctive relief and will likely grant similar relief with respect to DMWW’s claims alleging violations of DMWW’s constitutional rights.

January 24, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Open enrollment for purchasing 2017 health plans on the Marketplace ends January 31. In the meantime, Congress and President Trump have been paving the way to unwind and recalibrate the Affordable Care Act, a massive chunk of (largely) tax legislation.

January 25, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On February 10, 2017, Iowa Department of Revenue issued helpful documents to help preparers contend with nonconformity.

January 12, 2017 | Kristine A. Tidgren

A custom feeding endorsement may not cover growers for unexpected or negligent losses to livestock. An opinion from the Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday again raises this important warning.

In light of the tough farm economy, dealers are offering producers even more options when it comes to purchasing upgraded equipment. Because different tax implications flow from different contractual arrangements, it is crucial that a producer understand the true nature of a lease or purchase contract before he signs it. This will avoid big surprises come tax time.  

December 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

As we close out the year, we pause to review important developments in agricultural law from 2016. The year saw several notable rulings under the Clean Water Act,as well as the progression of several key Clean Water Act cases. Federal regulators unveiled new rules, and Congress passed legislation impacting producers and ag businesses.

December 29, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Iowa Supreme Court recently provided an excellent overview of the rules governing the partition of concurrently owned property in Iowa. In reversing a court of appeals decision ordering a partition in kind, the Court reiterated that Iowa law favors partition by sale.

This December 20, 2016 webinar is designed for both practitioners and producers. Teaching this webinar is Dr. Keri Jacobs, an assistant professor and cooperatives extension economist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University.

“Midnight” action by the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) caused a stir this week. GIPSA, the USDA division tasked with interpreting the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, 7 U.S.C. 181, (the Act) unveiled an interim final rule and two proposed rules that have been in the works for many years.

December 13, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

While death may be beneficial for tax purposes, it is difficult to regard it as a tax avoidance scheme.

This line is a great summary of the reasoning of the Tax Court in a recent case that illustrates an interesting interplay between cash accounting and death.

The Senate today overwhelming concurred with the House, sending the 21st Century Cures Act to the President for signature. It is expected that President Obama will sign the bill into law. 

December 1, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

In a case study of the balance of governmental powers, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled this month that local ordinances passed by three Hawaii Counties to ban the cultivation of GM (genetically modified) plants were preempted by state and federal law.

November 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The November 8, 2016, election will be long-remembered. Although the result was surprising to many, it was largely driven by rural Americans seeking change to the status quo. But, what will a new Administration actually mean for rural America?

November 30, 2016 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It has been estimated that the Internal Revenue Code and its accompanying regulations comprise more than 10 million words. The complexity is staggering. Yet, every taxpayer is expected to follow every mandate. Business taxpayers, including farmers, should always seek out trusted tax advisors to guide them through the thorny tax code. The money paid for good counsel is a wise and necessary investment.

Pages