Business Tax Update: Business Meals Still 50 Percent Deductible

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The Internal Revenue Service recently issued a Notice (Notice 2018-76) regarding the deductibility of business meal expenses under the new Tax Act.  The Notice may be relied on until proposed regulations are published.  The Notice provides that most business meal expenses will be 50 percent deductible as long as a separate invoice is provided for the food.  The new Tax Act prohibits the deduction of entertainment expenses.  It has been unclear until this Notice whether business meals involving a client or a potential client would fall into the entertainment expense category.  As such, until the proposed regulations are published, a

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New Law Allows Consumers to Freeze Accounts at Credit Bureaus for Free

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Consumers now have the power to freeze their accounts at the three Credit Bureaus for free, effective September 21, 2018, due to the Regulatory Relief, Economic Growth and Consumer Protection Act which was passed in May of 2018. In addition, consumers are allowed to unfreeze their accounts for free.  Consumers who are interested in placing a freeze on their Credit Bureau accounts should contact the three major reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.  In addition, consumers should also notify the National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange (NCTUE) to have their account frozen.   NCTUE is the reporting agency used when individuals

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Iowa Governor Signs Real Estate Partition Law

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The Governor recently signed SF 2175 into law which replaces Iowa Code Chapter 651 which deals with Partition of Real Estate.  The biggest change in the new law is the establishment of a partition procedure for “heirs property”.  For the first time a new law allows the equitable remedy of “owelty” which provides for a payment of money to equalize the value of property received in a partition in kind action.  Under the new Chapter, an individual who inherits property as a tenant in common with other relatives and who does not want to sell the property, in all likelihood

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New Health Care Options For Iowans

health care for small business

The Governor recently signed SF 2349 into law. The purpose of the law is to assist Iowans who are having difficulties purchasing health insurance on the individual market. First of all, the law allows Iowa Farm Bureau to offer new “health benefit plans” to its members. The plans are not defined as insurance and as such they are exempt from the Affordable Care Act Requirements and Iowa Insurance Division Regulation. Such plans will be self-funded and will be administrated by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. It is projected that the plans will cost $5,000.00 per year for family coverage.

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When Gifting to Charity Make Sure to get Written Acknowledgements

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Many individuals regularly make gifts to qualified organizations to receive tax-deductible contributions.  Pursuant to the IRS rules, a taxpayer who makes a single donation of $250.00 or more to a qualified charity must have an written acknowledgement from the Organization for each single donation of $250.00 or more or an written acknowledgement from the Organization setting out the date and amount of each contribution in excess of $250.00. The $250.00 amount set out above does not mean that you add up all contributions to see if you reach the $250.00 limit.  The $250.00 threshold is only reached when you make

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New Laws Pertaining to First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts

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A new law was recently signed by the Governor which authorizes tax-preferred First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts beginning in the year 2018.  Under the law, when an individual sets up a FTHSA account, he or she may exclude from their Iowa adjusted gross income yearly deposits of $2,000.  Married taxpayers who file a joint return may exclude up to $4,000.00 a year if the money is deposited into a joint FTHSA.  Any interest earned on a FTHSA account, will not be included in a taxpayer’s income. At the time that the FTHSA is opened, an individual can designate a sole beneficiary. 

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Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

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On April 20, 2017, Governor Branstad signed the Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act which is codified in Chapter 638 of the Iowa Code.  The Act broadly defines “digital asset” to mean any electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.  However, the term “digital asset” does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record and the term “digital asset” does not include health information or individually identifiable health information as those terms are defined in the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. 

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Dismissal of Des Moines Waterworks Lawsuit

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The lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Waterworks against the drainage districts in three Northwest Iowa Counties has been followed extensively in the press.  The case which deals with the issue of how to deal with the levels of nitrates in the State’s drinking water was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.  The Federal District Court Judge certified four questions to the Iowa Supreme Court in order to clarify issues of Iowa law raised in the lawsuit.  The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling finding that Iowa law has immunized drainage districts from

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Understanding Continuation of Restrictive Covenants

real estate covenant

Many residential developments (homes, condos and townhomes) have restrictive covenants which set out restrictions regarding the use of properties located in the development.  Most restrictive covenants set forth the term of years that the restrictive covenants will be in effect.  As set out below, such terms do not always apply to restrictive covenants that are also “use restrictions”. Chapter 614.24 of the Iowa Code was initially adopted in 1965 and provides for the termination of all “use restrictions” on a property after a period of 21 years.  The term “use restrictions” has never been defined in the Code until the

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Ned P. Miller “Of Counsel” October 1, 2016

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On October 1, 2016, Ned P. Miller will change his status from a Shareholder to “Of Counsel”. The “Of Counsel” designation indicates that Ned is on a semi-retirement basis and will continue his practice in fewer or more select areas of the practice of law. He will also be available to the firm for consultation and advice as needed. Our firm will remain in the same location and we will continue to practice in the same areas of the practice of law. James D. Beatty will continue as a Shareholder and will continue to practice full time. In the future,

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