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William W. Nelson

AA Contact Info

Sarah Herklotz
Phone: 919.821.6749


Bill Nelson is co-chair of the firm’s tax group. Bill receives a Band 1 ranking in Chambers USA Tax Law. Clients say Bill is "responsive, gracious, patient, kind, thoughtful and provides deep insight. He has a very thorough knowledge of North Carolina tax law and has built strong relationships within the Department and the legislature" (Chambers USA 2020), and " a brilliant tax lawyer who is a complete pleasure to work with in all respects." "He is fantastic - responsive, practical and a good listener" (Chambers USA 2021).

Bill's experience includes tax planning for corporate acquisitions, tax-free reorganizations and divestitures, forming and advising joint ventures and private equity funds, providing tax and business law advice to limited partnerships and limited liability companies, and representing domestic and foreign taxpayers on international tax matters. He also represents taxpayers before federal, state and local tax authorities in tax controversies. He has extensive experience advising clients on North Carolina tax matters and representing taxpayers before the NC Department of Revenue and in the General Assembly. Bill has written and spoken on a variety of federal and state tax topics and has been active in a number of state tax and business law legislative reform efforts.

In addition to tax matters, Bill regularly represents private companies in acquisitions and divestitures and other corporate and commercial matters. He also advises tax-exempt entities, including both public charities and private foundations on corporate law and tax matters.

Before joining Smith Anderson, Bill practiced with a prominent international law firm in Los Angeles.

  • Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel
  • Chairman, North Carolina Chamber Tax Committee
  • Member, UNC Tax Institute Board of Advisors
  • Past Chair, North Carolina Bar Association Tax Section
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Wake County Bar Association
  • Past Member, North Carolina Bar Foundation Endowment Committee
  • Best Lawyers®, Tax Law (2006-2021)
  • Best Lawyers®,"Lawyer of the Year," Raleigh Tax Law (2020)
  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Tax (2020-2021)
  • Business North Carolina Legal Elite
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers (2007-2019)

Academic Appointments

Guest Lecturer, Duke University School of Law, 2016-2021

Adjunct Professor of Law, UNC School of Law, Spring Semester 2009



  • Advised an international research-oriented healthcare group in its acquisition of worldwide product rights to a rare disease therapy.

  • Represented an international research-oriented healthcare group in the acquisition of worldwide product rights from a Canadian pharmaceutical company.
  • Advised a private equity fund in its acquisition of a leading provider of staffing resources to the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies for clinical trial needs.
  • Advised a global CRO business in the staged acquisition of the leading interactive response technology provider for $75 million in value.
  • Represented a global financial services technology company in its acquisition of a leading provider of deal analytics and valuation technology.
  • Represented a major regional distributor of industrial gases in a strategic merger of equals of two similarly situated businesses.
  • Advised a pharmaceutical and biotech construction company and its shareholders in a stock sale transaction for $25.5 million.
  • Represented a specialty pharmaceutical company in a $120 million merger with a subsidiary of a publicly-traded international pharmaceutical company.
  • Represented a leading provider of pharmacy-based patient care solutions and medication synchronization services to independent and chain pharmacies in its approximately $41 million sale of the company to a publicly traded buyer.
  • Advised a private equity fund in its acquisition of a specialty pharmaceutical company.

News & Publications



Speaking Engagements


  • Presenter, "North Carolina Tax Update," NCBA 2021 Tax Section Program, Live Webcast
  • Co-Presenter, "Legislative Update," NCACPA NC State & Local Tax Conference Webcast
  • Co-Presenter, "Legislative, NC Taxes and Covid-19 Liability Update," NCACPA Business & Industry Fall Virtual Conference
  • Speaker, "Overview of CARES Act Tax Relief for Businesses," Live Webinar hosted by NC Chamber
  • Co-Speaker, "State Legislative Issues," ncaCPA's 2019 Members in Business & Industry Spring Conference, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Speaker, "Significant Changes in Multi-State Taxes, South Dakota v. Wayfair," North Carolina State and Local Tax Conference, Greensboro N.C.
  • Speaker, "South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.: The Decision & Implications," Tax Executives Institute, Inc. Carolinas Chapter, Durham, N.C.
  • Speaker, "South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.: The Decision & Implications," Tax Executives Institute, Inc. Carolinas Chapter, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Speaker, "Reforming North Carolina’s Tax System," University of North Carolina's 2016 Festival of Legal Learning, Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Speaker, "Key Issues for Manufacturing - Single Sales Factor and Franchise Tax Reform," North Carolina Chamber's Annual Tax Conference, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Speaker, "North Carolina Tax Reform and its Impact on Business," North Carolina Chamber’s Annual Tax Conference, Charlotte, N.C.

Bar & Court Admissions

  • North Carolina
  • California


University of North Carolina, J.D., with high honors, 1985

University of North Carolina, A.B. 1982

  • Phi Beta Kappa
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