Bradley Arant partner Brett Carter, co-chair of the firm’s state and local tax practice group, was recognized in the State Tax Notes “2015 Year in Review” edition. The publication named Carter as one of two practitioners of the year for having a substantial impact on the state tax field. He was acknowledged for his work in advocating and litigating for transparency in tax administration and government in general.
Carter is scheduled for oral arguments before the Tennessee Supreme Court of Appeals in Carter v. Martin. He is appealing the Tennessee Chancery Court’s denial of his open-records request for documents produced in the course of a $350,000 state-funded tax study. He told Tax Analysts that there is simply no reason for the study not to be made public. He said his case "presents the most aggressive assertion of the tax administration information confidentiality provisions to date" because the Department of Revenue is attempting not to protect a particular taxpayer or tax program but to deny access to work done by the commissioner of revenue to develop estimates for the governor's budget.
"The fundamental basis for transparency screams for the study to be produced, and it is offensive to the business community that a court petition had to be filed to seek the study," Carter said. "It is a classic situation in which a state agency -- here, the Department of Revenue -- is taking a measure that was intended to be a shield and turning it into a sword to hide information related to the recommendation to raise taxes."
Carter said that if the court of appeals applies a plain reading to the open-records statute, it should order the disclosure of the tax study.
The “2015 Year in Review” edition of the State Tax News was released on December 14, 2015.