Judge Bill Thompson Appointed as First Chief Judge of Alabama Tax Tribunal

State & Local Tax Alert: Alabama Edition

Firm Alert

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On May 19, Governor Robert Bentley officially appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge William L. (Bill) Thompson as the first Chief Judge of the newly established Alabama Tax Tribunal (ATT) pursuant to the Alabama Taxpayer Fairness Act (previously known as the Alabama Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights II).

Effective October 1, 2014, the Alabama Taxpayer Fairness Act establishes the ATT and abolishes the current Administrative Law Division of the Alabama Department of Revenue, transferring both the personnel and equipment of the Administrative Law Division to the newly formed, independent executive branch state agency.

The ATT provisions are substantially similar to the American Bar Association’s Model State Administrative Tax Tribunal Act, except that appeals from the ATT will continue to be filed with the appropriate circuit court rather than with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. Judge Thompson is drafting regulations that will govern the procedures to be followed in all appeals filed with the ATT.

The creation of an independent tax tribunal in Alabama has been a priority of the business community, the Alabama State Bar, the Alabama Society of CPAs and the Council On State Taxation (COST) for the past several years. The predecessor to the Taxpayer Fairness Act was introduced in the Alabama legislature as early as 2005 and was sponsored by Rep. Paul DeMarco (R-Homewood) during the 2010 through 2014 legislative sessions and by Sen. Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville) the past two sessions.

From 1983 until his appointment as Chief Judge of the ATT, Judge Thompson has served as the first and only Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Alabama Department of Revenue. During that time, he has presided over more than 22,000 cases involving a variety of tax types administered by the Department.

Judge Thompson is a 1973 graduate of Auburn University and received his J.D. from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1976. From his graduation until his appointment in 1983, he served as assistant counsel for the Alabama Department of Revenue, specializing in corporate and personal income tax disputes. Judge Thompson received the Alabama State Bar’s Award of Merit in 1997, the Bloomberg BNA/Frank C. Latcham Award for Distinguished Service in State and Local Tax Law in 2010, and was recently named by State Tax Notes as one of their 10 “Persons of the Year.” He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Paul J. Hartman/Vanderbilt University State and Local Tax Forum.

© June 11, 2014. Bruce P. Ely/James E. Long, Jr./William T. Thistle, II/Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. All rights reserved. Two of the authors were principal authors of the TBOR II legislation and were involved in the lobbying effort.