Summer Webinars are Underway!
We are offering a number of webinars this summer. Iowa ag law attorneys and producers may be interested in attending two ag law webinars designed to comprehensively cover two key topics:
- Iowa Farm Leases from Start to Finish - June 7 from Noon to 2 pm (CST)
- Iowa Fence Law - June 9 from Noon to 2 pm (CST)
To register or for more information, please click here.
Tax preparers should check out our summer tax webinar series. The June schedule is as follows:
- June 21, 2016 - Let's Talk Dependents - Noon to 2 PM (CST) - 2 hours of CPE
- June 23, 2016 - Getting Your Client Right with IRS - Noon to 1 PM (CST) - 1 hour of CPE
- June 28, 2016 - Reconstruction of Records for Non-Filers - Noon to 1 PM (CST) - 1 hour of CPE
- June 30, 2016 - S-Corporation Reasonable Compensation - Noon to 1 pm (CST) - 1 hour of CPE
To register or for more information, click here.
And remember, webinars, as well as the bi-weekly The Scoop, are available for on-demand replay to all TaxPlace subscribers. Following are the most recent replays posted to TaxPlace:
May 25, 2016 The Scoop - May 25, 2016
May 20, 2016 Webinar Replay - Employee vs. Independent Contractor
May 11, 2016 The Scoop - May 11, 2016
Nat'l Taxpayer Advocate Public Forum a Great Success!
It was a great day in Red Oak May 5, as National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson and Senator Charles Grassley hosted a public forum to ensure that the IRS' proposed "future state" reflects the needs and preferences of U.S. taxpayers. Kristy Maitre represented agricultural and local taxpayer communities on a panel comprising tax preparers, an Iowa Legal Aid attorney, and a local producer.
We would like to thank all those who attended and participated. Coming out of the meeting in Red Oak was a statement that IRS would no longer call taxpayers to schedule an audit before first sending out a letter.
The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that an approved jurisdictional determination from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating that property contains “waters of the United States” is “final agency action” subject to judicial review. This is a big victory for landowners throughout the country.
As we’ve written previously, the landowners in this case purchased wetlands in northern Minnesota, seeking to mine them for peat moss used to improve golf courses. The landowners initially sought a Section 404 permit from the Corps. The Corps, however, strongly discouraged the landowners from pursuing the permit or the project, telling them that the process would be very costly, would require much additional study and data, and would likely not yield a permit in the end. The Corps eventually issued an approved jurisdictional determination (JD), stating that the landowners’ wetland was a “water of the United States” because of its “significant nexus” to the Red River, which was 120 miles away. The landowners sought judicial review of the JD, but the district court ruled that the JD was not “final agency action” subject to review. The Corps had argued, and the district court agreed, that the landowners had continuing rights. They could move forward with their permit application or launch their dredge and fill operation and see if the Corps took administrative action against them. If the permit was denied or if the agency took enforcement action, the landowners could then challenge what would only then be the “final agency action.”
Continue reading here.
A federal bankruptcy case has been shaping interpretation of the Iowa agricultural supply dealer lien statute since the operator of a farrow-to-finish hog facility declared bankruptcy in 2009.
On May 27, 2016, the Iowa Supreme Court issued its second opinion in this case, answering two key certified questions in this drawn out litigation. The answers to the two certified questions—which uphold the decision from the bankruptcy court--further refine the contours of the ag supply dealer lien established by Iowa Code chapter 570A. They also bring welcome certainty to a sometimes muddled area of the law.
While the questions are not simple, the facts are. The debtor’s hogs were sold, and the proceeds were insufficient to satisfy the liens of both the feed supplier that extended credit to the debtor for the purchase of feed, and the bank, which had a preexisting perfected security interest in the hogs. $342,371.78 remains in escrow pending resolution of the parties’ competing claims.
Continue reading here.
We’ve recently received a number of inquiries regarding wind energy agreements. This article, while not offering legal advice, is intended to inform landowners as to some of the key legal issues they should consider when evaluating a wind energy agreement proposed by a developer.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, more than 31 percent of Iowa’s in-state electricity generation came from wind in 2015. The Iowa Utilities Board has reported that this is the first time that wind has ever supplied a state with more than 30 percent of its yearly electricity. Sustaining this increase in wind energy output is an increase in wind farm development. When wind farm developers approach landowners about constructing wind turbines on their property, many are left with many questions. Landowners are encouraged to consult with legal counsel and their tax advisors regarding the implications of the agreement they are evaluating. Following are some important considerations.
The backbone of any wind farm is the wind energy agreement. Every landowner who sells an easement or leases property to a developer does so pursuant to a detailed contract drafted by the developer. It is important that landowners fully understand the rights and obligations detailed in these contracts before signing them. With many of these agreements dictating land usage for the next 50 years or so, it is well worth the expense of hiring an attorney experienced in these matters to review the paperwork before signing. Given the voluntary nature of these projects to date, there may not be a lot of room for negotiation. Even so, landowners should not be afraid to ask for terms that better meet their needs. And landowners should not hesitate to walk away from negotiations if they are not comfortable with the terms offered. Because these contracts often contain a confidentiality clause, landowners usually don’t know the terms of their neighbors’ agreements. As such, it is sometimes difficult to evaluate the fairness of a financial offer.
Continue reading here.
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As you know, our work at the Center is dependent on the fees generated by seminar registrations and gifts. If you would like to donate to further the Center's efforts, please contact our Program Administrator, Tiffany Kayser at firstname.lastname@example.org or (515) 294-5217. You can also give online with a credit card. We thank you for your generous support.
Iowa Court of Appeals Issues Opinions in Two Farm Lease Cases
On May 11, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued two cases analyzing farm leases. In the first case--which was a bit surprising--the letter of the law prevailed, and the court ruled that a single, 38-year-old grazing horse was all that was needed to create a “farm tenancy.” Thus, the court found that landlords were required to send statutory termination notice by September 1 to properly terminate a lease for a residential acreage (less than 40 acres) where the only "agricultural activity" was one grazing horse. Read more about the case in this blogpost.
The second farm tenancy case decided the same day offered little in the way of surprise. It did, however, provide another opportunity for a court to analyze the corn stover statute, which is sometimes misunderstood. It also analyzed a provision common to most written leases, which allows tenants to recoup the costs of unused lime at the termination of a lease. Read more about this case here.
Our Government's Aging Computer Technology Poses Risks
In May 2016, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a study of the federal governments aging IT systems. In our age of electronic communication, global markets, the ability to communicate via video internationally among many other forms of fast, instant communication vehicles, federal agencies are in many cases working with technology that is 50 + years old.
As we fight identity theft at the individual and governmental level it is critical that our government IT systems are not only current but on the “cutting edge” to better equip our country in the fight to preserve privacy in a world of global technology. Few people will take the time to read the report and many will not be aware of its existence or the fact that our government is working with ancient technology.
Tax professionals are engaged to provide a service to clients at the same time as providing for the security of their clients' information. Please take the time to review Publication 4557 and review your security protocol. The importance of keeping your systems current and on the edge of technology becomes more important on a daily basis.
The full GAO report can be found at: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/677436.pdf
Fall's Just Around the Corner!
It's time to start planning your fall educational seminars now. We are offering an exciting slate of opportunities, and we hope you'll join us!
Online registration is now open for our 2016 September Seminars: Navigating Changing Times. Detailed seminar flyers will be mailed soon. Access more online information here.
Also plan to join us at one of the eight locations offered during our 43rd Annual Federal Income Tax Schools this fall. More information is available here.
For more information on these and other CALT activities, check out our 2016 CALT Connection.
The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation 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. The Center'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.