According to a letter obtained by WSFA 12 News, the current Administrative Law Judge who hears all tax appeals cases for the Alabama Department of Revenue, favors an independent committee selecting finalists for the governor to choose from to hear future appeals cases.
[DOCUMENT: Read the letter (.pdf)]
Judge William Thompson has served as the Revenue Department's Administrative Law Judge for decades.
In a letter he wrote to an attorney on May 4, 2011, Judge Thompson said, "Some years ago a Commissioner and some department employees that were dissatisfied by my decisions actively sought to remove me from my position through harassment and intimidation and by auditing my income tax returns and vigorously investigating my past and other financial activities."
When reached by phone Monday, Thompson said the events detailed in the letter occurred around 1995, during the administration of then-Governor Fob James. The Revenue Commissioner at the time was Ralph Eagerton.
Thompson said since 2011, when a different version of the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" was presented in the legislature, his views have not changed.
The Alabama House approved the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" early in the 2014 legislative session. If the measure were to become law, it would create a Tax Appeals Commission that would recommend finalists to the governor as to who should become the state's next Administrative Law Judge to hear tax appeals cases. Alabama law provides for an appeals process for anyone who disagrees with a tax assessment of their personal or business documents.
Currently, the Administrative Law Judge is appointed by Commissioner of the Department of Revenue.
Some Republicans in the legislature have argued that the current process is subject to politicization with an appointee who could be manipulated to make improper judgments. Despite there being minimal if any records of such acts, the letter written by Judge Thompson nearly three years ago, changes that perception.
Stay tuned to WSFA 12 News for more on this story.
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