“Gov. Bentley deserves credit for showing his support early by saying that he would sign the legislation into law if presented to him.”
MONTGOMERY— Updating the original 1992 Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights has long been a goal of the Alabama business community. A majority of states had adopted some form of independent tax appeals model and for more than a decade business interests in Alabama had attempted to. Success occurred this month with passage of HB105, called TBOR II.
With Governor Robert Bentley’s ceremonial signing today of TBOR II as Act 2014-146, Alabama becomes at least the 32nd state with an independent tax appeals panel.
TBOR II is the product of hard work and dedication by the Alabama business community, the Business Association Tax Coalition consisting of 27 business and trade associations, the Business Council of Alabama membership, BCA Chairman Fred McCallum, president of AT&T Alabama, First Vice Chairman Marty Abroms, president of Abroms & Associates PC in Florence, 2013 BCA Chairman Carl Jamison, shareholder in JamisonMoneyFarmer PC in Tuscaloosa, as well as House and Senate leadership.
“In addition, Governor Bentley deserves credit for showing his support early by saying that he would sign the legislation into law if presented to him,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said.
An independent tax tribunal will increase public confidence in the system’s fairness by resolving disputes between the DOR and taxpayers. “Since the beginning, the singular goal of this legislation has been fairness, and the BCA commends the Alabama Legislature for updating the current TBOR,” Canary said.
TBOR II has been a BCA priority for several years, as a majority of states have adopted some form of independent tax appeals model. Alabama was among the last. Others in the Alabama business community joined forces with the BCA in support of the legislation under the banner of the Business Associations’ Tax Coalition (BATC), which includes 27-member business and trade associations.
Attempts to pass this legislation stretch back to the late 1990s. Over the years, the legislation has not been enacted for various reasons, including anti-business leanings of previous legislatures, misunderstandings, erroneous conclusions, apathy concerning the bill, and even simple bad luck.
Bentley’s signature on HB105 is a significant step toward tax appeal fairness and a major boost to business, municipalities, and county governments.
“Alabama taxpayers finally can claim victory with passage of TBOR II,” Canary said. “For years, the Business Council of Alabama has been working on behalf of Alabama taxpayers to pass this commonsense legislation that levels the playing field in the tax appeals process by separating the tax adjudicator from the tax collector.”
Enactment of TBOR II, an update of the original 1992 law, is the statutory confirmation of efforts by dozens of individuals and organizations seeking the establishment of a tax tribunal independent of the Alabama Department of Revenue.
“Many individuals both in the Legislature and outside of the voting chambers of the State House have worked tirelessly to push TBOR II over the goal line,” Canary said. “The credit goes to our many Business Association Tax Committee members, association supporters, and BCA members who reacted positively to calls to action and who contacted their legislators to support TBOR.
Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, sponsored HB105, and it was handled in the Senate by Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville. The House passed HB105 and the Senate approved a substitute 26-0, which the House concurred in 94-1 on March 4.
Bentley signed the bill March 11 and it takes effect Oct. 1. One judicial appointment is required on or before July 1.
The legislation establishes the Alabama Tax Tribunal, abolishes the ADOR’s Administrative Law Division, and transfers its personnel and functions to a newly formed, independent executive branch 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 Court of Civil Appeals, according to attorney Bruce Ely of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.
The governor has the authority to appoint up to three tribunal judges, depending on the workload, for six-year terms. At the end of each term, the governor may reappoint or appoint a new judge, and the governor may remove an ATT judge for “neglect, inability to perform, or malfeasance in office.”
Judges also may be removed or disciplined by the Judicial Inquiry Commission in the same way the JIC is authorized to remove circuit judges, Ely said. Taxpayers may appeal final assessments issued by or on behalf of self-administered cities and counties unless the governing body of the self-administered city or county opts out of the ATT.
The Business Council of Alabama is Alabama’s foremost voice for business. The BCA is a non-partisan statewide business association representing the interests and concerns of nearly one million working Alabamians through its member companies and its partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. BCA is Alabama’s exclusive affiliate to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Contact: Nancy Wall Hewston (334) 834-6000