Grefe Sidney http://www.grefesidney.com Just another WordPress site Tue, 24 Apr 2018 16:35:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 IOWA CREATES FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER SAVINGS ACCOUNTS http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/iowa-creates-first-time-homebuyer-savings-accounts/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/iowa-creates-first-time-homebuyer-savings-accounts/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2018 16:35:33 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2198 A new law went into effect this year that provided for the creation of First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts (FTHSA.) These accounts are special savings accounts that allow for tax deductions to the account holder. In order to qualify as a FTHSA, the account holder, upon opening the account, must designate a beneficiary of the account […]

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A new law went into effect this year that provided for the creation of First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts (FTHSA.) These accounts are special savings accounts that allow for tax deductions to the account holder. In order to qualify as a FTHSA, the account holder, upon opening the account, must designate a beneficiary of the account who qualifies as a first-time homebuyer. A first-time homebuyer is an Iowa resident who has not owned a single or multifamily residence for at least three years.

The beneficiary may either be the account holder or someone else. For example, a parent who already owns a home could open a FTHSA and list his or her child as the beneficiary provided the child qualified as a first-time homebuyer. Additionally, an individual may open multiple accounts provided each account has a different beneficiary (e.g., a parent could open three different account for his or her three children.)

For 2018, individual account holders may deduct up to $2,000 annually ($4,000 for married couples filing jointly) from their Iowa income tax for contributions made to the account. In addition to the annual deduction limit, the account holder is also subject to a lifetime limit of ten times the account holder’s annual deduction limit. In other words, if the annual deduction were to remain at $2,000 for ten years, an individual account holder would be subject to a $20,000 lifetime deduction limit for the account.

In addition to the account holder’s ability to make deductions on account contributions, the account holder may also deduct interest accrued on the account. It is important to note that if a withdrawal is made from the account for any non-qualifying purpose, such as to pay for a new car, the account holder will need to add that amount to his or her net income for the year to make up for the tax deduction he or she previously received due to putting that money into the account. Finally, account holders must fill out an annual report form and include it with their Iowa income tax return each year.

If a FTHSA sounds like something you would be interested in, contact a financial advisor for further information.

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WHY A HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNT MIGHT BE FOR YOU http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/why-a-health-savings-account-might-be-for-you/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/why-a-health-savings-account-might-be-for-you/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:25:49 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2196 A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a “triple-tax-advantaged” medical savings account available to taxpayers enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP.) It allows taxpayers to use funds from the account to pay for certain qualified medical expenses. An HSA is simply a special type of savings account that can be used to pay for qualified healthcare […]

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A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a “triple-tax-advantaged” medical savings account available to taxpayers enrolled in High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP.) It allows taxpayers to use funds from the account to pay for certain qualified medical expenses.
An HSA is simply a special type of savings account that can be used to pay for qualified healthcare expenses. It is said to have a triple-tax advantage because, one, contributions made to the account are tax-deductible, two, the interest earned on the account is tax free, and, three, withdrawals from the account for qualified medical expenses are tax free.

In order to set up an HSA, taxpayers need to be enrolled in a HDHP. An HDHP is a health insurance plan that has a deductible of at least $1,300 in the case of an individual and at least $2,600 in the case of a family. Additionally, HDHP holders’ out-of-pocket expenses for the year (including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance,) cannot exceed $6,550 in the case of individuals and $13,100 in the case of families (This limit does not apply to out-of-network services.)

Upon enrollment in an HDHP and the creation of an HSA, account holders will typically pay for their medical expenses without being reimbursed by their HDHP until they reach their annual deductible. When they pay for qualified medical expenses that aren’t covered by the HDHP, they may request tax-free distributions from their HSA to pay or be reimbursed for their expenses. If funds from the HSA are requested for non-qualified expenses, they will be subject to income tax and as well as an additional 20% penalty. Upon reaching the age of 65, however, the 20% penalty disappears.

In addition to the tax benefits, HSAs have additional benefits. Unlike flexible spending accounts, which allow holders to carry-over a maximum of $500 each year, HSAs have no limit on carry-overs or when the funds may be used.

While many people might be tempted by the ability to use HSA funds to pay current medical expenses without any tax consequences, the real benefit of an HSA comes from saving the HSA and allowing it accumulate interest tax-free. Doing so can allow holders to take greater advantage of the tax benefits and use the money later in life once the interest has appreciated and healthcare expenses are likely to be higher.

Those interested in investing larger amounts into their HSAs will need to be aware of the yearly contribution limits. For 2017, an individual may contribute up to $3,400 and a family may contribute up to $6,750 to their HSA. If you are an eligible individual who is age 55 or older at the end of your tax year, your contribution limit is increased by $1,000.

While there are many benefits to opening an HSA, there are several things people should think about before deciding to do so. When setting up an HSA, holders typically designate a beneficiary. If the beneficiary is your spouse, then the HSA automatically is treated as your spouse’s upon your death. However, if you don’t designate your spouse as the beneficiary, then the HSA ceases to exist upon your death and the fair market value of the HSA will be deemed taxable income to the beneficiary. Another thing to consider is that, with a HDHP, although your monthly premiums are lower, it can still be difficult to come up with enough money to meet the high deductible.

While the HSA clearly has many benefits, it is not necessarily for everyone. To determine whether it might be a good plan for you, consult with a trusted financial advisor.

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STANDARD DEDUCTION CHANGES http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/standard-deduction-changes/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/standard-deduction-changes/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:15:16 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2194 In December, President Trump signed a new tax bill into law. One noticeable change was the doubling of the standard deduction. This means that for single taxpayers, the standard deduction has increased to $12,000. For married taxpayers who file a joint tax return with their spouse, and for taxpayers who file as a “Surviving Spouse,” […]

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In December, President Trump signed a new tax bill into law. One noticeable change was the doubling of the standard deduction. This means that for single taxpayers, the standard deduction has increased to $12,000. For married taxpayers who file a joint tax return with their spouse, and for taxpayers who file as a “Surviving Spouse,” the standard deduction has increased to $24,000. For taxpayers who file as “Head of Household,” the standard deduction has increased to $18,000.
In addition to the standard deduction, taxpayers who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled may still deduct an additional $1,600 if they are single or an additional $1,300 for each taxpayer if they are married.
It is important to note that under the new law, the personal exemption, which previously could be deducted in addition to the standard deduction, has been repealed.
For further clarification, when it comes to filing one’s tax returns for 2018, taxpayers have two options: they may choose to take the standard deduction or they may itemize their deductions. The standard deduction is a set amount that taxpayers may choose to deduct from their total gross income each year. This is the simplest way to file one’s taxes; however, the standard deduction does not take any of the taxpayers’ expenditures for the year into consideration. Itemizing allows taxpayers to calculate their total gross income for the year and then subtract eligible deductions – such as mortgage interest, state and local taxes, charitable contributions, etc. – which can exceed the set standard deduction.
Previously, choosing to itemize could save taxpayers money; although, the paperwork involved could make doing so a difficult task. Now that the standard deduction has nearly doubled, more taxpayers are likely to choose the standard deduction over itemizing. Taxpayers should consult with their tax advisor to determine whether the standard deduction is the best option for them.

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IOWA SUPREME COURT HOLDS NO EXCEPTION TO EXCLUSION UNDER ALL-RISK POLICY APPLIED http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/iowa-supreme-court-holds-no-exception-to-exclusion-under-all-risk-policy-applied/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/iowa-supreme-court-holds-no-exception-to-exclusion-under-all-risk-policy-applied/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:15:24 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2181 In November, 2014, a squirrel entered an electrical substation owned by the City of West Liberty, Iowa and, after climbing on equipment, caused a completed circuit and thereafter electrical arc resulted in substantial damage to the City’s electrical substation.  Following the damage, the City submitted a claim to Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMC).  EMC denied […]

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In November, 2014, a squirrel entered an electrical substation owned by the City of West Liberty, Iowa and, after climbing on equipment, caused a completed circuit and thereafter electrical arc resulted in substantial damage to the City’s electrical substation.  Following the damage, the City submitted a claim to Employers Mutual Casualty Company (EMC).  EMC denied the City’s claim, citing the insurance policy’s “Electrical Currents” exclusion.  The City filed suit, seeking declaration that its damage was covered under the policy.

The insurance policy at issue was an all-risks policy, covering any risk of direct physical loss or damage to the covered property unless specifically excluded by the policy.  The parties did not dispute that the City suffered a direct physical loss to covered property at a covered location during the policy period.

EMC argued that the insurance policy specifically and clearly stated EMC would not pay for a loss caused by arcing.  The City contends, however, a fortuitous event—the squirrel coming into contact simultaneously with the energized cable and grounded frame—immediately set in motion the arcing event that caused the City’s property damage, such event was the efficient proximate cause of the City’s loss, and the loss is therefore covered, not excluded, under the policy.

The Iowa Court of Appeals determined that this loss was caused by arcing, finding that no express exception to the policy’s exclusion for arcing applied.  The Court determined that whether or not the squirrel completed the electrical circuit, the damages were still caused by the arcing.  As such, the Iowa Supreme Court found in favor of EMC.

City of W. Liberty v. Employers Mut. Cas. Co., No. 16-1972, 2018 WL 1182764 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 7, 2018)

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CORPORATE EMPLOYERS DO NOT HAVE FAMILY MEMBERS http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/corporate-employers-do-not-have-family-members/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/corporate-employers-do-not-have-family-members/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:45:21 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2183 Patricia Georgesen started a small business named Derby Insurance Agency (Derby), a subchapter S corporation, in 1991.  Her husband also worked at Derby Insurance.  In 1998, Joanne Cote began working at Derby as a customer service representative.  On October 12, 2012, Derby sold its assets, goodwill, and book of business to Derby Insurance Services, Inc. […]

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Patricia Georgesen started a small business named Derby Insurance Agency (Derby), a subchapter S corporation, in 1991.  Her husband also worked at Derby Insurance.  In 1998, Joanne Cote began working at Derby as a customer service representative.  On October 12, 2012, Derby sold its assets, goodwill, and book of business to Derby Insurance Services, Inc. (Services).

Cote filed a complaint of discrimination with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission on April 10, 2013.  In response, Derby filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the Iowa Civil Rights Act did not apply because Derby regularly employed fewer than four individuals, not counting Patricia’s family members, citing the family member exception contained in Iowa Code section 216.6(6)(a).

The Iowa Supreme Court took up the issue to determine if a corporate employer may claim the family-member exception to the numerosity requirement in section 216.6(6)(a) of the Iowa Code.  Derby argued that when the employer is a corporation, the family members of the sole owner should be considered the employer’s family members.  Of note, Iowa Code section 216 prohibits various discriminatory employment practices, but the statute does not apply to any employer who regularly employs less than four individuals.  The Iowa Supreme Court held that corporate employers cannot have family members as applied to section 216.  As such, the Court determined that Derby did not qualify for the family-member exception.

Cote v. Derby Ins. Agency, Inc., No. 16-0558, 2018 WL 1224522 (Iowa Mar. 9, 2018)

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A NEW FACE AT GREFE AND SIDNEY http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/a-new-face-at-grefe-and-sidney/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/a-new-face-at-grefe-and-sidney/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2018 14:15:09 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2185 Please join us in welcoming to Grefe and Sidney’s Litigation Division, AnneMarie Spellman McDevitt. Her practice includes general civil litigation and workers’ compensation matters. AnneMarie represents employers, insurers and claimants before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a graduate of Creighton University School of Law. AnneMarie […]

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Please join us in welcoming to Grefe and Sidney’s Litigation Division, AnneMarie Spellman McDevitt. Her practice includes general civil litigation and workers’ compensation matters. AnneMarie represents employers, insurers and claimants before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a graduate of Creighton University School of Law.

AnneMarie is a member of the Iowa Association of Workers Compensation Attorneys, the Iowa State Bar Association, and the Dallas County Bar Association.  She has also served on the Iowa District 5A Judicial Nominating Commission and the Dallas County Magistrate Appointing Commission. She also served three terms as the District 5A Representative on the Executive Council of the Young Lawyers Division of the Iowa State Bar Association.

Outside of practicing law, AnneMarie is an active volunteer within her local community including serving on the City of Perry Planning and Zoning Commission, on the local school board, and coaching a Middle School Mock Trial Team.

AnnMarie_Headshot_BW

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DONNA MILLER VOTED LAWYER OF THE  YEAR FOR 2018 http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/donna-miller-voted-lawyer-year-2018/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/donna-miller-voted-lawyer-year-2018/#comments Mon, 23 Apr 2018 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2177 Based on recently released 2018 Best Lawyers® rankings, Donna Miller has been voted Lawyer of The Year for 2018 for the Des Moines area for her representation of employers in workers’ compensation matters. This is a singular honor. Only one lawyer per practice area and metropolitan region is awarded this distinction based on the highest […]

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Based on recently released 2018 Best Lawyers® rankings, Donna Miller has been voted Lawyer of The Year for 2018 for the Des Moines area for her representation of employers in workers’ compensation matters. This is a singular honor. Only one lawyer per practice area and metropolitan region is awarded this distinction based on the highest peer ratings received.  Donna has been representing employers across Iowa for more than 16 years. Donna Miller

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ATTORNEY’S INVESTIGATORY NOTES AND COMMUNICATIONS ARE DISCOVERABLE IN DISCRIMINATION SUIT http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/attorneys-investigatory-notes-and-communications-are-discoverable-in-discrimination-suit/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/04/attorneys-investigatory-notes-and-communications-are-discoverable-in-discrimination-suit/#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2018 16:30:38 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2173 Oliver Fenceroy was employed at Gelita USA, Inc., where he began working in 1975.  In 2013, he left the company and filed an administrative complaint and ultimately a civil suit charging Gelita with race discrimination.  Fenceroy alleged that there were a number of workplace incidents involving racially disparaging comments by employees. During Fenceroy’s employment, Gelita […]

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Oliver Fenceroy was employed at Gelita USA, Inc., where he began working in 1975.  In 2013, he left the company and filed an administrative complaint and ultimately a civil suit charging Gelita with race discrimination.  Fenceroy alleged that there were a number of workplace incidents involving racially disparaging comments by employees.

During Fenceroy’s employment, Gelita implemented an anti-harassment policy that barred disparate treatment in the workplace on the basis of race.  Fenceroy acknowledged receiving this written memorandum discussing the anti-harassment policy.  In addition, Fenceroy attended company trainings in 2011, 2012, and 2013 discussing workplace harassment.  He also received copies of Gelita’s Code of Conduct, which contained the company’s anti-harassment policy, in 2011 and 2012.  In 2012, Gelita conducted a survey requesting anonymous feedback about potential problems or changes to the company.  Fenceroy received this survey, but did not report any harassment.

In response to the complaint, Gelita hired an attorney to defend the company and investigate the merits of the charge.  Gelita filed an affirmative defense, relying in part on their distribution of valid discrimination policy and flexible reporting procedures.  Gelita further stated that after the most recent administrative filing, they investigated the complaint, the supervisor has since been fired for his actions, and others have been disciplined.  Following the administrative proceeding, Fenceroy was granted the right to sue.

Fenceroy filed a civil action in district court against Gelita and four named employees: Bob Kersbergen, Tom Haire, Jeff Tolsma, and Jeremie Kneip.  Fenceroy alleged the defendants engaged in racial harassment in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act and that he was constructively discharged.  He also alleged Kersbergen and Haire engaged in tortious infliction of severe emotional distress.  Gelita filed an answer with affirmative defenses, namely alleging that Fenceroy failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by Gelita.

The Iowa Supreme Court determined that when an employer relies on a pre-suit investigation to support an affirmative defense, that employer waives attorney-client privilege when the investigation is conducted by an attorney.  The Court determined that in order to adequately challenge this defense, a plaintiff is entitled to probe the nature and scope of the relied upon investigation and they may have access to the notes and communications between the investigator-attorney and the company.  The Court reasoned that if an employer does not want to waive this privilege, then they may decide to refrain from referencing the investigation in the civil action.

Fenceroy v. Gelita USA, Inc., No. 16-0775, 2018 WL 1021320 (Iowa Feb. 23, 2018)

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IOWA SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE WHETHER DISTRICT COURT MAY REVIEW APPRAISAL BOARD’S FACTUAL FINDINGS http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/03/iowa-supreme-court-to-decide-whether-district-court-may-review-appraisal-boards-factual-findings/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/03/iowa-supreme-court-to-decide-whether-district-court-may-review-appraisal-boards-factual-findings/#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2018 09:00:49 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2115 On February 13, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Walnut Creek Townhomes Association v. Depositers Insurance Company. The case is up on further review from a decision of the Iowa Court of Appeals that ruled the trial court erred in rejecting an award of an appraisal board, invoked under the terms of […]

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On February 13, 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Walnut Creek Townhomes Association v. Depositers Insurance Company.

The case is up on further review from a decision of the Iowa Court of Appeals that ruled the trial court erred in rejecting an award of an appraisal board, invoked under the terms of Walnut Creek’s property insurance policy, when it substituted its findings of fact for the board’s factual findings. In a 2-1 decision, Judge Mullins joined Judge Bower’s opinion, which held that the district court could only evaluate the “structural and environmental underpinnings of the appraisal award and search out evidence of fraud, mistake or malfeasance.” Unless the appraisal award is the result of fraud, mistake or malfeasance, the court reasoned, the appraisal board’s decision is binding on the parties and cannot be reviewed by the district court. On this basis, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court, concluding that it committed legal error by rejecting the appraisal board’s factual findings and remanded the case with directions to enter judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Walnut Creek.

Judge McDonald dissented. In his view, the district court was not bound by the appraisal board’s factual determinations and had the authority to set aside the board’s award because, in part, the appropriate function of an appraisal board is to determine value, not make factual findings. Accordingly, the district court should not be bound to such findings and can set aside an appraisal board’s award on this basis. Judge McDonald also rejected the view that appraisal boards must always, necessarily, make determinations of causation in the appraisal process. Rather, he argued, there are plenty of situations where an appraisal board’s valuation determination could merely bind the parties’ measure of damages while they slug out the issue of liability.

Jurisdictions across the country are split on this question and the issue is one of first impression for the Iowa Supreme Court. We will report on the outcome of this case once the Iowa Supreme Court issues its ruling within the next few months.

Walnut Creek Townhome Association v. Depositors Insurance Company, No. 16-0121, LACL128361 (Iowa District Court in and for Polk County)

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MILLER AND ERICKSON WIN SUMMARY JUDGEMENT IN MULTI-ISSUE LAWSUIT http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/03/miller-and-erickson-win-summary-judgement-in-multi-issue-lawsuit/ http://www.grefesidney.com/news/2018/03/miller-and-erickson-win-summary-judgement-in-multi-issue-lawsuit/#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2018 09:00:48 +0000 http://www.grefesidney.com/?p=2129 Anita Dhar Miller and Ben Erickson successfully defended an individual against multiple claims, including defamation, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After an immense amount of discoverable information was exchanged between the parties, Miller and Erickson moved for summary judgment, asserting a number of affirmative defenses afforded to their client by Iowa law.  […]

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Anita Dhar Miller and Ben Erickson successfully defended an individual against multiple claims, including defamation, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After an immense amount of discoverable information was exchanged between the parties, Miller and Erickson moved for summary judgment, asserting a number of affirmative defenses afforded to their client by Iowa law.  At the hearing on the motion for summary judgment, they argued plaintiff failed to create a question of fact regarding the claims brought by plaintiff and/or the affirmative defenses asserted in defendant’s answer. The Iowa District Court for Polk County agreed and dismissed all five of plaintiff’s claims against Miller and Erickson’s client.

Iowa District Court for Polk County, Law No. LACL136297

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