Iowa Bankruptcy Exemptions

Updated May 24, 2016

Like all states, Iowa has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some states allow debtors to choose between the state exemption system and a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions – but Iowa is not one of them. In Iowa, you must use the state exemptions below. In addition to this list, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Iowa, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. This is informally called “doubling.”

To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, including how they work, which state exemption system you should use, and special rules for the homestead exemption, see Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy? 

Iowa Bankruptcy Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Iowa Code Annotated.


499A.18 & 561.2 & 561.16 - Real property or apartment, unlimited in value, but cannot exceed 1/2 acre in a city or town, or 40 acres elsewhere. Spouses may not double.

561.4 - Homestead declaration may be recorded.

Personal Property

627.6 - Motor vehicle up to $7,000; musical instruments, appliances, household furnishing, clothing and its storage containers as well as other personal property up to $7,000; books, pictures, paintings, portraits, and bibles up to $1,000 total; burial plot up to 1 acre; Jewelry up to $2,000; health aids; wedding and engagement rings, if purchased after marriage or within the last 2 years there is a limit of $7,000 (minus any amounts used under the general jewelry exemption); rifle or musket; shotgun; residential utility or security deposits up to $500 or advance of rent; wrongful death proceeds need for support. 


356.29 - Salary or wages of a prisoner.

642.21 - Wages as follows:

Expected Annual Earnings Amount NOT exempt per year
$0 to $12,000 $250
$12,000 to $16,000 $400
$16,000 to $24,000 $800
$24,000 to $35,000 $1,000
$35,000 to $50,000 $2,000
More than $50,000 10%

(In re Irish, 311 BR 63 (18th Cir. B.A.P. 2004).)

Not exempt from child or spousal support.


11 U.S.C. § 522 - Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans). 

11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,283,025.

97A.12 - Peace officers.

97B.39 - Public employees.

410.11 - Disabled firefighters and police officers, but only for benefits being received.

411.13 - Police officers and firefighters.

627.6 - Other pensions, annuities and contracts are fully exempt; however, contributions that were made within the year prior to filing for bankruptcy are not exempt; retirement plans, Roth IRAs, IRAs, ERISA-qualified benefits, and Keoghs.

627.8 - Federal government pension.

Public Benefits

239B.6 - Aid to dependant children.

627.6 - Unemployment compensation, Veterans' benefits, Social Security, and any public assistance benefit, including earned income tax credit and child tax credit (In re Hatch, 13-03342-als7 (Bankr.N.D.Iowa 2014); In re Longstreet, 246 B.R. 611 (Bankr. S.D. Iowa 2000). 

627.13 - Workers' compensation.

627.19 - Adopted child assistance.

Tools of Trade

627.6 - Nonfarming equipment up to $10,000; farming equipment, including livestock and feed, up to $10,000; National Guard articles of equipment.

Alimony and Child Support

627.6 - Alimony and child support needed for support.


508.32 - Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.

509.12 - Employee group insurance policy or proceeds.

512B.18 - Fraternal benefit society benefit.

627.6 - Life insurance proceeds (limited to $10,000 if acquired within 2 years prior to filing for bankruptcy) paid to spouse, child or other dependant; accident, disability, health, illness, or life proceeds; illness or disability benefits; upon death of insured, up to $15,000 of all matured accident, health, disability and life insurance policies that were exempt from beneficiary's debts contracted before the insured's death.


123.38 - Liquor licenses.


627.6(14) - $1,000 of any other personal property including cash.


Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.

Confirming Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Iowa. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Iowa may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated in June of 2011. Consider cross-checking this list with, which updates the state exemption amounts regularly, or check with your local bankruptcy court. 


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