Mr. Ely’s 33 years of experience have allowed him to handle projects as diverse as serving on the recruiting teams that successfully induced both Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai to locate their first U.S. manufacturing plant in Alabama, while representing taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service, the Alabama Department of Revenue and local taxing authorities. His practice focuses on three concentric areas: representing taxpayers before federal, Alabama and local administrative and judicial forums; advising companies on choosing the proper form of entity through which to conduct business in the Southeast and potential tax incentives; and advising companies and various trade and professional organizations regarding state and local tax legislative matters. He also devotes a substantial amount of time to teaching and writing on SALT-related topics.
Mr. Ely’s practice focuses primarily on representing business taxpayers before federal, state and local government agencies and in the Alabama courts. He co-chairs the firm’s State and Local Tax (SALT) Practice Team, which represents taxpayers before the Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and District of Columbia Departments of Revenue as well as local government taxing authorities and the state and federal courts. He has served as counsel to multistate taxpayers in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court but more often before the Alabama appellate courts, circuit courts, and the Alabama Tax Tribunal, formerly the Alabama Department of Revenue Administrative Law Division.
As part of his governmental affairs practice, Mr. Ely has co-authored a number of landmark pieces of tax legislation in Alabama, including the Corporate Income Tax Reform Act of 1985, the Alabama Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights/Uniform Revenue Procedures Act of 1992, the Local Tax Simplification and Local Tax Conformity Acts of 1998, the Municipal Business License Reform Act of 2006, the Alabama Taxpayer Fairness Act of 2014, and numerous, more statute-specific tax bills. He has served as counsel to several state tax reform, economic development and constitutional reform commissions over the years and has written extensively on those topics as well as on other multistate tax issues and incentives matters.
Early in his career Mr. Ely became known for his experience on the state taxation of pass-through entities and has chaired or co-chaired several American Bar Association and Alabama State Bar committees and task forces on the subject as well as having written numerous articles in tax or business law journals and treatises such as “Keatinge, Conaway & Ely on Choice of Business Entity” and Professor Richard Pomp's “State & Local Taxation.” He speaks regularly on these topics at the national and state level and co-authors a series of charts on the state taxation of LLCs and LLPs that have appeared in leading tax and business entity journals and treatises since 1993.
Mr. Ely is a longstanding Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel and is included in the International Who’s Who of Corporate Tax Lawyers as its only Alabama member. He is a member of the Advisory Boards for the New York University Institute on State and Local Taxation, the Bloomberg BNA/Tax Management Multistate Tax Report, and the Journal of Business Entities (Thomson-Reuters/RIA). He is also a member of the Alabama Law Institute and is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA).
He has served for many years as state tax adviser to several business and professional trade associations, is former chair of the Alabama State Bar Tax Section, and currently chairs its Legislative Review Committee. Bruce was recently awarded the first Paul H. Frankel Award for Outstanding Achievement in State and Local Taxation by New York University and recognized as one of the Top 10 Tax Lawyers in the United States by State Tax Notes/Tax Analysts.
AT&T Corp. v. Surtees (ADOR) — Successful challenge to the constitutionality of Alabama''s business privilege tax (BPT) scheme, which allowed a deduction for an investment in companies also doing business in the state but NOT for companies not subject to the BPT.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing USA--automotive plant near Montgomery, AL — Served as state tax/incentives counsel to Hyundai in its decision to locate its first U.S. auto manufacturing plant near Montgomery, Alabama.
Hoover, Inc. v. Alabama Department of Revenue — Represented the taxpayer in several successful appeals of large assessments of state and local sales tax with respect to its sales of sand and gravel to Mississippi local government entities when sales to similar Alabama government entities would not be taxable under our statutes. The Alabama Supreme Court agreed with our Commerce Clause arguments and invalidated the assessments.
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. automotive plant in Vance, AL — Was a member of the state and local governments recruiting team that convinced MBUSI to locate its first (and only) auto manufacturing plant in Alabama, near Birmingham.
GMAC vs. City of Red Bay, Alabama — Served as lead counsel to GMAC in its successful appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court of a class certification order in favor of several municipalities and counties in which GMAC did business. The Supreme Court ruling de-certified the class and confirmed that each city and county must follow the Alabama Taxpayers'' Bill of Rights/Uniform Revenue Procedures Act in auditing and assessing local sales, use, rental or lodging taxes against a business taxpayer.
The Pittsburg & Midway Coal Company vs. Tuscaloosa County — Confirmed the right of a taxpayer to rely on the so-called "anti-whipsaw statute" (which I co-authored) to avoid paying a sales or use tax twice, then being forced to file a claim for refund with the taxing jurisdiction that incorrectly received the first payment.
The opinion also confirmed that each local government must comply with the Alabama Taxpayers'''' Bill of Rights (which I also co-authored) procedures by allowing an aggrieved taxpayer to appeal its assessment to an administrative hearing officer before being forced to file suit in the local circuit court.
Jim Walter Resources Inc. v. Tuscaloosa County — Landmark Alabama Supreme Court case in 2012 involving the applicability of the Alabama mortgage recording tax to the mortgage of a subsidiary that was used to secure its guaranty obligations in favor of its parent company's $3 Billion debt to a consortium of lenders. The Court appropriately ruled that the tax did not apply due to the contingent nature of the sub's obligation and related mortgage.
Other Court Admissions
- United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
- Supreme Court of the United States
- United States Tax Court
- Supreme Court of Alabama
- United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama
- United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama