November 2014

November 2014

Year-End Tax Planning Considerations for Farmers


As 2014 draws to a close, several weeks remain during which farmers and other taxpayers can still take action that will impact their 2014 tax returns. Although some producers may find their incomes lower in 2014 than in recent years, they may still seek ways to reduce income for the year or to defer it to future, potentially lower-income years.  Several possible strategies are worth reviewing.

Section 179 Deduction and Bonus Depreciation

A number of important tax provisions expired at the end of 2013. Among them, was the enhanced I.R.C. §179 deduction, which allowed farmers to currently deduct up to $500,000 of the tax basis  of certain business property or equipment during the year in which the property was placed into service. For 2014, the amount of the §179 deduction decreased to $25,000. Although Congress has not yet acted to increase this amount, it is anticipated that legislation will pass to increase the amount of the §179 deduction (probably to $500,000) retroactively to the beginning of 2014.  Nothing is certain, however, until such legislation is enacted.  It should be noted that the enhanced amount was available for fiscal-year filers until the end of their 2013 tax year, which was sometime in 2014.  For calendar-year taxpayers, the enhanced amount is not available at all for 2014 without congressional action.

Continue reading here.

Agricultural UAVs Still Grounded

We have told you in past articles about the legal roadblocks facing the use of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including those UAVs used in farming operations. We'd like to update you on several recent developments.

Huerta v. Pirker

In March, an administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled in Huerta v. Pirker that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not have the legal authority to fine a Swiss photographer $10,000 for his alleged careless or reckless use of a UAV. The photographer had flown his UAV over the University of Virginia to take pictures. The ALJ had dismissed the FAA's enforcement action against the photographer, finding that the UAV did not meet the definition of "aircraft," so as to fall within the purview of FAA regulation. On November 18, 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) disagreed, reversing the ALJ's decision and remanding for further enforcement proceedings.  In a ruling slamming shut a final argument some had been making in support of flying commercial UAVs without fear of regulatory retribution, the NTSB stated, "We must look no further than the clear, unambiguous plain language of 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6) and 14 C.F.R. § 1.1: an 'aircraft' is any 'device' 'used for flight in the air.' This definition includes any aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small." The NTSB has left no wriggle room in affirming the plain language of the statute's definition, a definition so broad it would seemingly include paper airplanes.

Proposed Regulations Pending

With Pirker settled, new FAA regulations to allow the integration of commercial UAVs into the airspace become even more important. It has been expected that proposed regulations would be released by the end of 2014. A news report from the Wall Street Journal yesterday suggested the proposed rules may not offer the green light that industry enthusiasts and farmers wishing to legally use UAVs in their operations had hoped for. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the rule-making process, the Wall Street Journal report stated that the proposed regulations would require operators to obtain a license, fly only during daylight hours, stay below 400 feet, and fly only within the line of sight of the operator.

We can only hope that special, more relaxed rules for the agricultural use of UAVs may be included in the proposed regulations. We will let you know as soon as they are made public. In the meantime, you can continue to legally fly your UAV to check on your hobby horses, but you can't do the same for your commercial livestock. For those seeking to understand the safety reason behind this distinction, remember that we only report on the law!



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CALT does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. CALT's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.

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