IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF MARK ALAN BERG AND AMY LYNN BERG Upon the Petition of MARK ALAN BERG, Petitioner-Appellee, And Concerning AMY LYNN BERG, Respondent-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Carla T.
Berg appeals the economic provisions of the decree dissolving
her marriage to Mark Berg.
R. Anderson of Anderson & Taylor, PLLC, Des Moines, for
L. Bandstra of Bandstra Law Firm, Des Moines, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
Mark married in 2005, had two children, and divorced in 2015.
Amy appeals the economic provisions of the dissolution
decree. She contends (1) the district court should have
assigned her one of the two tax exemptions for the children;
(2) the district court's property division was
inequitable, and (3) she should have been awarded more trial
district court ordered Mark "to claim both children as
dependents exemption for federal and state income tax."
Amy argues the dependent exemptions should have been
"split evenly." She notes that Mark earned
"over three times the amount of money" that she
did; she received "the earned income credit due to her
low income"; she used tax refunds "to pay off
debts"; and "[t]aking away any tax exemptions from
her [would] significantly reduce her income and increase
her tax liability."
'general rule' is that the parent given primary
physical care of the child is entitled to claim the child as
a tax exemption." In re Marriage of Okland, 699
N.W.2d 260, 269 (Iowa 2005) (citation omitted); see
Iowa Ct. R. 9.6(5) ("The custodial parent shall be
assigned one additional dependent exemption for each mutual
child of the parents . . . ."). "However, courts
have the authority to award tax exemptions to the
noncustodial parent 'to achieve an equitable resolution
of the economic issues presented.'" Okland,
699 N.W.2d at 269 (quoting In re Marriage of
Rolek, 555 N.W.2d 675, 679 (Iowa 1996)).
granted physical care of the children. But, as she
acknowledges, her income was significantly lower than
Mark's and she was eligible for the earned income credit,
reducing the value of the dependent exemption to her.
See, e.g., In re Marriage of Coons, No. 06-0699,
2007 WL 750571, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2007)
(affirming award of dependent exemption to the noncustodial
parent where he earned close to three times more than the
custodial parent and custodial parent would have to pay no
income tax); Bates v. Loosemore, No. 04-1822, 2005
WL 1969729, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 17, 2005) (affirming
award of dependent exemption to the noncustodial parent where
the mother was entitled to earned income credit up through
earnings of $25, 000, regardless of whether she claimed the
child as a dependent.). Specifically, Amy testified her
actual earnings in the year preceding trial were $7111 and
she anticipated her earnings in 2015 "would be about
$15, 000." Although the district court found her annual
income was $18, 000, this figure was still significantly
lower than the $56, 800 annual income figure ascribed to
Mark. In addition to her eligibility for the earned income
credit, Amy claimed dependent exemptions for two children
from another relationship.
on this record, we conclude the district court acted
equitably in assigning both dependent exemptions to Mark.
argues the property distribution portion of the decree was
inequitable. In her view, (A) she should have received half
rather than one-third of one of Mark's retirement
accounts; (B) a pension should have been equitably ...