Understanding Law and Taxation

Making sense of law and tax issues related to agriculture is the passion of Kristine Tidgren and her team at the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation.

She became director of the center earlier this year after joining it as staff attorney in 2013 and serving as assistant director for two years. The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT), established by the Iowa Board of Regents in 2006, was created as a primary source of professional educational training in agricultural law and taxation.

“We are here to help both professionals and producers navigate the complexity of the laws,” Tidgren says. “Everything is so complex. We are an objective, independent group that isn’t here to make money or to try to push any particular point of view, we are just here to educate.”

Tidgren and the center’s three staff members conduct seminars, webinars and provide information on its website and newsletter articles. Dozens of webinars are offered and every other week law and tax highlights are reviewed through online sessions.

CALT also educates about 1,200 tax professionals every year through federal income tax schools.

“When they started 45 years ago, the schools were education for farmers who filed their own tax returns. Over the years things shifted, and now not many farmers file their own tax returns,” she says.

Still, producers are one of the center’s big constituent groups, according to Tidgren, along with bankers, real estate appraisers, farm managers, tax professionals, lawyers and policymakers.

Doug Hensley, president of Hertz Real Estate Services, credits Tidgren’s communication skills for successfully guiding the center.

“Kristine is a gifted speaker, who is very sincere and informed,” he says. “She presents complex topics in a way that makes them understandable to the novice.”

Tidgren, who also serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the agricultural education and studies department, teaches an upper-level agriculture law course every spring semester to about 145 students.

“We’re not trying to make them legal experts, but we do go into pretty good detail on the key laws that really impact producers,” she says.

Tidgren was in private practice in Carroll, Iowa, before joining CALT.

The Iowa State journalism and psychology alum grew up on a family farm near Logan, Iowa, and earned her law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in a law firm in Kansas City for a year, before moving back to Iowa working for Lexis-Nexis, the legal research company, as an attorney, writer, editor and researcher.

She says her CALT position is the ideal combination of her passions for legal research and writing and her roots in agriculture.