Spotlight on Technical Tax Pro and Business Executive Bill Smith – Bloomberg Tax
By Rebecca Baker
Our Spotlight series highlights the careers and lives of tax professionals across the globe. This week’s Spotlight is on Bill Smith, the national director of tax technical services for CBIZ MHM, a business consulting, tax, and financial services provider.
Smith consults on a broad range of tax services for corporations, partnerships, LLCs, and individuals. He has more than 40 years’ experience in the public and private sectors helping businesses of all sizes and high-net-worth individuals develop and implement tax strategies.
A graduate of Florida State University College of Law, he started his career as a trial attorney for the Justice Department’s Tax Division and was an associate general counsel at Deloitte before launching CBIZ’s national tax office in 2000.
Smith is a former All-American high school soccer player and once sang the National Anthem at the old Candlestick Park in San Francisco before a Giants-Cardinals baseball game. He also has tried his hand at stand-up comedy—all of which, he says, is why he now sticks to tax.
What’s your official title and what does it mean? National director of tax technical services. I am the lead person nationally for technical tax issues, so essentially, our offices and directors become my clients for help with their clients when the going gets tough.
Free time: book, audiobook, or podcast? Audiobook. Recently, “The Anomaly” by Hervé Le Tellier and “Educated” by Tara Westover. But the “This American Life” podcast is my go-to.
Tax is a huge subject. What’s your area of special interest? Not a specific area of tax, but the beauty of problem solving when the path is not clear and the wolves are surrounding.
What’s the last movie or show that you watched and loved (DVD, Netflix, or in the theater)? I love movies! “Georgetown” (which Christoph Waltz directs and stars in) was amazing. Rewatching “The King of Marvin Gardens,” in tribute to the recent passing of a former client, Bob Rafelson (the director; Jack Nicholson stars in the movie). “Top Gun: Maverick” was top notch for action.
What college did you attend and what did you study? University of Florida, bachelor’s in advertising. Love a good jingle!
Go to pick-me-up: Coffee or tea? One large caffè latte in the morning, made at home with Café Bustelo and unsweetened almond milk (must hold a froth).
What’s the best tax or financial advice that anyone ever gave you? More of career advice but, “There are no funny tax lawyers … stick to your day job!”
If you weren’t working in the tax profession, what would your dream job be? No question—rock star writing my own songs, playing lead guitar, and singing all the lyrics to sold-out stadium venues. It’s possible, right?
If you had the opportunity to make one change in the tax world—an extra credit, a disallowed deduction, whatever—what would it be? No damages, other than punitive damages, would be taxable. That way, if you are suing someone else (like your tax adviser for malpractice), they don’t have to gross up the settlement amounts to cut Uncle Sam in on the proceedings.
Favorite food, snack, or candy during tax season or other busy time? Cashews. Dry roasted and salted.
What tax news or move made the most impact on your practice or clients this past year? The lack of certainty regarding federal tax legislation. This uncertainty is terrible for tax planning and decision making by businesses and individuals. Build Back Better was finally laid to rest by the Inflation Reduction Act, which dropped almost all of the prior proposals but reinstituted a level of certainty.
If you received a big tax refund check right now, what would you do with it? Definitely travel. Always travel. Maybe to a favorite—Paris, Iceland, Barcelona, Machu Picchu/Sacred Valley, South Africa, Portugal—or somewhere new—Patagonia/Antarctica, Madrid, Painted Mountains in Peru, New Zealand, etc. Endless possibilities: new cultures, new people, urban charm or outdoor activities—preferably both. Good dining a plus, and good wine an imperative.
You can find Smith on LinkedIn and on Twitter.
You can learn more about Smith’s company, CBIZ, on its website.
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