March 2015

March 2015

Des Moines Board of Water Works Trustees Files Lawsuit

On March 16, 2015, the Des Moines Board of Water Works Trustees (DMWW) followed through on its January threat and filed a federal Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit against the supervisors and drainage districts of three Iowa counties. The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, alleges that the supervisors, in their capacity as trustees for the drainage districts, are operating the drainage districts in an “unlawful and antisocial” manner that is contrary to the “public health and welfare.” The lawsuit, among its many demands, asks the federal court to order the drainage districts to cease "all discharges of nitrate that are not authorized by an NPDES or state operating permit."

The complaint, which is 52 pages long, begins with an overview of the “national and state nitrate problem.” It alleges that agricultural drainage is a significant contributor to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and that “scientific research and technical studies show that high nitrate concentrations in the Raccoon River watershed are a direct result of nitrate discharged from agricultural drainage district facilities.” Read More

The Changed Estate Planning World

2013 marked the beginning of major changes in the estate planning landscape. While there had been significant changes to the transfer tax system before 2013, particularly with respect to the changes wrought by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Recovery Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), the EGTRRA changes expired after 10 years.  Further extensions of EGTRRA were only of a temporary nature until the enactment of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) of 2013 which constituted a major income tax increase, and increased the tax rates on capital gains, dividends and transfer taxes.  ATRA’s changes were of a permanent nature.  Also, the additional 3.8 percent tax on passive sources of income under I.R.C. §1411 that was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which was enacted in 2010 and became effective for tax years beginning after 2012, has important implications for the structuring of business entities and succession planning.  For many retired clients, Obamacare increases their tax burden in a material way. 

Read More.

Is Internet Sales and Use Tax Far Away?

In 2013, The Marketplace Fairness Act was proposed in Congress. This Act has stalled, but is worth reviewing due to a recent comment by Justice Anthony Kennedy that it was time to revisit a 50-year-old Commerce Clause ruling.  In response to that, the bill was resurrected and on March 10, 2015, in Senate Bill 698, The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015 was introduced. This Bill, as self-described, would, “ Restore states sovereign rights to enforce state and local sales and use tax laws, and for other purposes”. 

50 years ago, we had no Internet (it was in its infancy at that time), cell phone, or other forms of media by which we currently purchase products and services.  The Commerce Clause ruling limited the collection of use tax to physical presence also called “nexus."  What would this Bill mean for states?  It would expand the ability of states to collect sales tax from out-of-state businesses that have no physical presence in that state, opening up a new revenue source for states that are struggling with budget issues. Read More.


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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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