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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Iowa

George Simons | December 02, 2022

Summary: Are you being sued for a debt in Iowa? Find out how to defend yourself using the statute of limitations.

On average, most states have a statute of limitation on debt ranging between 3 to 6 years. Iowa, on the other hand, has longer statutes of limitations on most types of debts. For example, some debts in this state have a 5-year limit while others have a 10-year limit. Here's everything you need to know about the statute of limitation of different types of debts in the Hawkeye State.

Categories of debts in Iowa

Debts in Iowa fall under two main categories namely: written and unwritten contracts. Some debts, however, arise from court judgments and also have statutes of limitations. Additionally, federal and county debts are governed differently in the state of Iowa.

Unwritten contracts are also called open accounts or open-ended debts. These are debts that aren't based on a written agreement but are legally binding. In Iowa, the statute of limitations for unwritten contracts is five years.

Written contracts are based on a written agreement stating the payment terms, the payment period, and other details. Any debts arising from the written contracts in Iowa are subject to a statute of limitations of up to 10 years.

A judgment lien is part of a court's verdict to ensure that a debtor honors a court-approved settlement to a creditor. It enforces this settlement, especially for debtors who fail to comply with the court's ruling. The statute of limitation on judgment lien in Iowa is 20 years.

State tax debts are any unpaid taxes owed to the state. These debts have a renewable 10-year statute of limitation. However, county tax debts have no statute of limitation.

Iowa Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years


10 years (written)





State Tax


Debt on Account

10 (written)


20 (of record), 10 (not of record)

Source: Findlaw

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How Iowa statute of limitations apply to different debts

It's not always easy to tell which category your type of debt belongs to because of the complicated nature of some governing regulations. For example, some debts aren't bound by these statutes whether they are written or unwritten contracts.

Here are a few examples.

A credit card debt can either fall under the five or 10-year statute of limitations, depending on the circumstances of the debt. For example, if the creditor has a written agreement signed by the debtor, the debt will be classified as a written contract and subject to the 10-year limit.

Unlike other states, In Iowa, the standard credit card agreement doesn't count as a legally binding written agreement. Therefore, most credit card debts would be bound by the 5-year statute of limitation in the state.

Government-issued student loans have no statute of limitations because they belong to the federal government. However, privately acquired student loans are considered written contracts and are bound by the 10-year statute of limitation in Iowa.

Not all debts arising from a court order have the state's 20-year statute of limitation. Some debts such as child and spousal support have no limit, and the debtor is obliged to pay until the debt is cleared.

The debt collection process in Iowa explained

Debtors in Iowa are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Iowa Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. These laws protect consumers from harassment and unfair debt collection practices such as using false claims, obscene language or calling the borrower during inconvenient hours.

The FDCPA, in particular, prohibits a creditor or debt collection company from contacting you if you submit a request to stop the collection efforts. On the contrary, the Iowa Fair Debts Collection Act has no such provision. Either way, the collectors may stop their debt collection efforts and opt for a debt collection lawsuit.

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How to answer a debt collection summons in Iowa

A debt collector files a lawsuit against a borrower for a delinquent debt after failed collection efforts. In most cases, the lawsuit is normally filed by a collection company and not the original lender.

If the debt is old, chances are that the account has changed hands several times or the debt is already time-barred. Some creditors would try to file a collection lawsuit on a time-barred debt even though it's against the federal law for a collector to threaten to take you to court for such a debt.

If you receive a debt collection lawsuit from a creditor, you should never ignore whether or not the debt is time-barred. Ignoring such a lawsuit can lead to wage garnishment or other debt collection efforts arising from a lawsuit.

Generally, you'll have 20 calendar days to respond to any debt collection lawsuit in Iowa, or 60 days if the summons was served to you from the Secretary of State or the Department of Transportation.

Here's what you need to do:

You can complete the Appearance and Answer of Defendant(s) form online or create your Answer document. The online form only requires you to correctly fill in the information needed and submit the document electronically. If the court requires that you use this electronic filing method but wish to submit your Answer in person, you must obtain an exemption from the court.

If you choose to create your answer document, be sure to include all the necessary information about the case, such as your personal information and the case claim number. You'll then state your response to the claims on the document you created.

You may deny or admit the claims raised by the lawsuit. You may also admit to some of the claims and deny others whenever applicable. If you have any affirmative defenses, include them in your Answer document.

Next, file your Answer with the court where the lawsuit was filed, and then send a copy of the Answer to the plaintiff.

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Answer your Iowa debt collections summons

Debt collection laws are broad and complicated. To make things worse, these documents have deadlines that must be strictly adhered to. Rather than risking a default judgment against you or submitting the wrong answers, SoloSuit makes the whole process much easier.

This web application can:

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  • identify the right affirmative defenses to use.
  • submit the Answer to the court and a copy to the plaintiff.

While humans would need hours or even days to complete this process, SoloSuit does everything within minutes, relieving you of the stress and pressure of handling complex legal paperwork.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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