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October 24, 2018 | Kitt Tovar

On October 18, 2018, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling concerning a family dispute over farmland.

As tough times continue in the farm sector, more farmers are calling it quits. In particular, many operators who do not own ground and are dependent upon renting the land of others are struggling to hold on. Many are selling farm assets and securing full-time off-farm employment to make ends meet. It’s a quiet exodus, but it comes with hidden danger.


Tom Brennan, his son James Brennan, and Michael Potter recently pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Iowa to charges of wire fraud in connection with their organic farm operation. Wire fraud involves an intentional scheme to defraud with the use of interstate wires.

A recent summary opinion from the tax court illustrates a real danger of the advance premium tax credit for taxpayers who may end the year with more income than they expected.


After months of uncertainty, the United States reached a trade deal with Mexico and Canada on September 30, 2018. The news of this $1.2 trillion deal is met with favorable reaction from both commodity groups and farmers. In May 2017, President Trump announced his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). On August 27, 2018, Mexico and the United States reached a bilateral agreement for the updated NAFTA. Canada entered into an agreement just before the midnight deadline on September 30.

On October 3, 2018, IRS issued Notice 2018-76, which was welcome news for many business owners. The Notice provides transitional guidance on the deductibility of business meal expenses in light of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act's disallowance of deductions for entertainment expenses.

September 30, 2018 | Kitt Tovar

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently considered the issue of witness credibility in a will contest. On September 12, 2018, the Court of Appeals found that despite a witness to the will not remembering the details of the will signing, she possessed the requisite memory overall to authenticate the will.


On September 12, 2018, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the Polk County District Court’s ruling that a mother had intentionally given title of her house to only one of her two daughters. In Andrews v. Carter, the mother chose to transfer title of her home to the daughter who had been her primary caregiver as she aged. The other daughter had argued that the mother intended for her sister to hold the house, in constructive trust, for the benefit of both daughters until the mother died.

September 30, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Last week, the Iowa Department of Revenue issued proposed rules for implementing changes to section 179, brought about by Iowa’s 2018 tax reform legislation (S.F. 2417, enacted May 30, 2018).

Carroll Airport

On September 12, 2018, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a Carroll County District Court ruling for the abatement of a nuisance in the form of a grain leg located near the Arthur N. Neu Airport in Carroll County. The court ruled that a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finding that the improvement was not a hazard to air navigation did not preempt state and local law.

Corn field
September 17, 2018 | Steve Johnson, Iowa State Farm Management Specialist

The lion’s share of payments under the new Market Facilitation Program (MFP) are going to pork and soybean producers. Given the most recent USDA production estimates, Iowa producers stand to gain more than $550 million from this program.

September 12, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Just when many thought the 2015 Clean Water Rule or “WOTUS” was relegated to the archives of history, it has been revived. In fact, as of mid-September 2018, WOTUS is the controlling definition for “waters of the United States” in 22 states. As of September 18, 2018, Iowa was no longer among them. And the status for the remaining states could change at any time.

September 6, 2018 | Kitt Tovar

Creating a will is an important step in ensuring your loved ones know where your possessions should go at the time of death. Another important consideration after making a will is how you will store it. Courts usually require that the original will be used at the time of probate. This means that if the original will cannot be found, the court will likely find that the decedent destroyed the will with the intent to revoke it.

August 31, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

On August 27, 2018, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of new programs designed to assist farmers in response to ongoing trade disputes. USDA will authorize $12 billion for three primary programs:

August 31, 2018 | Kitt Tovar

Many are closely monitoring a number of North Carolina nuisance lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown a division of Smithfield Foods. Since April, juries have rendered three large verdicts against the hog integrator, the most recent verdict issued August 3.

August 30, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

It is generally advisable for business owners to form a separate legal entity to limit personal liability stemming from business contracts or torts. Incorporating or organizing as an LLC can limit owners’ personal liability to the extent of their investments. This liability shield, however, is not without exception.


On August 15, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a summary judgment in favor of a landlord, finding that a seed supplier could not recover where the customer was a custom farmer. This case highlights the need for written contracts over oral agreements.

August 13, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Treasury and the IRS released IRC § 199A proposed regulations, REG-107892-18, on August 8, 2018. The regulations will not officially apply until they are adopted as final; however, taxpayers can rely on §§1.199A-1 through 1.199A-6 until final rules are adopted.

Treasury and the IRS released IRC § 199A proposed regulations, REG-107892-18, on August 8, 2018. These are proposed regulations, but taxpayers can rely on them until final rules are adopted.

July 31, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

We’ve been patiently (or maybe not so patiently!) awaiting guidance for many of the key provisions in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act for months now. As July turns to August, we continue the wait.

On July 18, 2018, the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court judgment declaring a testator’s will invalid on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence and finding her son liable for intentional tortious interference with a bequest.

July 10, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Senate and the House have passed their respective versions of the 2018 farm bill. The Senate passed its bill by a vote of 86-11 on June 28, 2018, and the House passed its more partisan bill by a vote of 213 – 211 on June 21.

July 6, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Many laws passed during the 2018 Iowa Legislative Session impact agricultural producers and landowners. A number of these laws went into effect July 1, 2018. Following is a summary of the highlights.

June 29, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

IRS officially unveiled its draft 2018 Form 1040 today, stating that it will work with the tax community to finalize the form over the summer.


It is a question that has come before the United States Supreme Court on two prior occasions: When can a state require an out-of-state seller to collect and remit sales tax? The Court has twice found that the collection obligation turned on whether the seller had a “physical presence” in the state. But, this time, the answer was different. Recognizing that the Court’s prior decisions got it wrong, the Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., No. 17-494 (U.S. Sup. Ct.

June 23, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Iowa’s agricultural nuisance law has perhaps become a little clearer, albeit no simpler to apply. On Friday, June 22, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a key ruling analyzing the constitutionality of Iowa’s embattled right-to-farm statute, Iowa Code § 657.11(2). Honomichl v.

Today, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that two shareholders of a family farming corporation did not prove their claim of minority shareholder oppression. In making its ruling, the court relied upon the Iowa Supreme Court’s holding in Baur v.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a number of provisions that apparently do not accord with legislative intent. This is, in some cases, evidenced through discrepancies between the committee report and the language in the code. Today, we will highlight two apparent errors with significant impact to many taxpayers.

Note: The Iowa Department of Revenue has launched a new webpage, where it will be publishing its latest guidance and information on the new Iowa law.

May 24, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Generally, the uniform capitalization rules (UNICAP) have required all farmers, regardless of size, to capitalize pre-productive costs of plants that have a pre-productive period of more than 2 years. IRC§ 263A(a)(1), (d)(1)(A)(ii).

cows in a field

Stray voltage causing damages to dairy farms is a problem that has been facing the dairy industry for year with damages cases dating back to 1984. Stray voltage is caused when a power line’s neutral line is “leaking” electrical currents into the ground. A common cause of stray voltage is a neutral wire that is either too small or damaged and allows the current to go into the ground. 

On April 12, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated a district court’s judgment and held that a discharge that passed from a point source through groundwater to navigable waters could support a Clean Water Act (CWA) claim. The Fourth Circuit in Upstate Forever v.

April 25, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

An entirely renovated Iowa partition law will go into effect on July 1, 2018. On April 11, 2018, Governor Reynolds signed SF 2175 into law.

Judge Lungstrum granted preliminary approval for the $1.51 billion Syngenta settlement on April 10, 2018.

grassy field

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ushered in the most significant changes to our tax code in more than 30 years. On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the TCJA into law. Although most changes went into effect January 1, 2018, meaning that they will impact tax returns filed in 2019, most agricultural clients need to understand how the law is impacting them in 2018 so they can make good business decisions in the months ahead. Although many decisions will hinge on IRS guidance that has not yet been issued, much about the law can be understood.

On April 2, 2018, Governor Reynolds signed SF 2349, into law. The new law is designed to address the mounting difficulties faced by many Iowans seeking to purchase health insurance on the individual market.

Update: On May 2, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the mandate vacating the 2008 final rule.

March 22, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, H.R. 1625, on March 23, 2018.

Yesterday, plaintiffs filed a motion asking for preliminary approval of a settlement reached with Syngenta.  The proposed settlement, which would comprise $1.51 billion, is described by plaintiffs’ counsel in a court filing as a “record-breaking achieve

Last fall, we wrote about the health care crisis facing many Iowa farmers and other small business owners. Many of those with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty limit faced 2018 health care insurance premiums surpassing $30,000 per year on the individual market.

February 28, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has significantly changed the tax landscape for agricultural producers. We’ve detailed a number of the changes, many of them positive, in prior articles. In light of the federal changes, Iowa must now decide how to respond.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made significant changes impacting the depreciation and expensing of vehicles used in a trade or business.[i] In this post, we review the current law.

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently found that Fayette County improperly granted permits to a wind energy group to build three wind turbines on agricultural land. This opinion leaves in effect a district court order that directed the group to remove the turbines.

A case that has again found it's way to the Iowa Court of Appeals could give the Iowa Supreme Court another opporunity to refine the doctrine of promissory estoppel.

On February 12, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will shape Iowa nuisance law, as it applies to animal feeding operations.

President Trump signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 into law on February 9. The Act, which was passed to fund the federal government and avoid another shutdown, includes a number of changes to the Internal Revenue Code.

Update: Governor Reynolds signed SF 512 into law on January 31, 2018.

January 16, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act preserved like-kind exchange treatment for real property, but eliminated it for personal property. Today, we take an initial look at what that means for farmers or other taxpayers looking to trade equipment or livestock in 2018. We will soon write separately about vehicle depreciation and trades in light of the new law.

January 12, 2018 | Kristine A. Tidgren

Iowa law has been clear, and it is perhaps even more clear today. Unlike most other states, Iowa is “unequivocal in favoring partition by sale." Newhall v. Roll, 888 N.W.2d 636, 640 (Iowa 2016).

Update: On March 13, 2018, Senators Grassley, Hatch, Roberts, Thune, and Hoeven issued a joint statement, including the following: