10 Years of SALT

Hosts & Guests

Judy Vorndran

Meredith Smith

Alexander Korzhen


10 Years of SALT With Meredith Smith

Alexander Korzhen Welcome to SALTovation. This SALTovation show is a podcast series featuring the leading voices in SALT, where we talk about the issues and strategies to help you make sense of state and local tax. Hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the SALTovation podcast. I know you all are used to hearing Meredith's voice, do the intro, but today we conclude the series by featuring Meredith and they just wouldn't be right to ask her to introduce her.What's your career story? Your you're a Midwest girl from Illinois. How'd you end up in Colorado?

Meredith Smith I was born on a very snowy blizzardy day in upstate New York. I went to undergrad at Miami university in Southwest Ohio. I'm not quite sure how I got there. Like why I picked that school. I know that one of my really good friend's brothers went there and we went to visit him senior year of high school and had a lot of fun. I considered playing volleyball in college because contrary to my current level of physical activity that I do now as an adult, um, I was an athlete growing up. And so I considered playing volleyball, um, in college. And that was one school that I had an interview with the coach, but, you know, I knew I wanted to go out of state and I knew just, I dunno, it was close enough. It was like a five hour drive. It was actually kind of close to my grandparents that lived in Kentucky. So it was like a two hour drive, but ended up. Going to Miami, Ohio. I immediately got into business school. So I knew I kind of have a very traditional accountants path, like a senior in high school. I knew I was going to major in accounting. So I put that on my college application. My grandfather was an accountant. My brother's an accountant. And like, that's just kind of how my brain works. Right. We've got a lot of analytical stuff. Like there are lawyers and doctors, both my parents are scientists. So I kind of have the right answer, kind of like a brain. Um, my other, like I said, like one of my brothers is an accountant, my other one's an architect. And so like just kind of. Very like a linear sort of thought. So I knew I wanted to major in business. Didn't want to do marketing because I'm not that creative and accounting just kind of made sense. So I majored in accounting. I went to undergrad, took my business classes, got an internship between my junior and senior year of college, which is low like all good old traditional accountants. The difference being is I had a really hard time getting an internship because I knew immediately I was going to get my master's. So I wasn't. And back when I was interviewing people wanted to provide internships for those people that were immediately ready to hire when you were done with school. But because I knew I wanted to get my fifth year. I knew I wanted to move back to Illinois. I was like, I'm going to live in the city. I'm going to do all of these things and I didn't get an internship. And so I remember talking to my brother who is in tax at KPMG in Denver. And I was like, Hey, you know, my interviews didn't go well, I didn't get a job, but like an offer. He's like, you know, my salt partner was just saying that. You know, we were looking for an intern. And like, he gave him my resume. He called me, he was like, cool, you want to move out to Colorado for a summer? Great. Come on over. And so, you know, I moved out to Colorado, lived in my friend's basement with my brother between junior and senior year of college and worked for KPMG salt. Like one of the first things that I did over the summer, learn how to use RIA, checkpoint, and do re tax research. One of the first things that I did was do a 50 state memo on the taxability of downloaded movies. Nice because it was 2005, like it was new. It was like, no one, you're kidding it to like downloaded software and like, so did that. And I knew kind of at that point, you know, I. I like, I learned a lot. I loved Denver. I did all of these like really cool things in Colorado. Like I did in 14 areas, I went camping at the dunes. We like to go out every night. Cause this was the like, like work hard, play hard before kind of like people tighten the purse strings. Right. So, I met a really great group of people, got to like kind of almost even taking ownership of clients as an intern, like without even knowing what I was doing, decided that I was going to go to DU to get my master's of tax. So then, um, kind of before I left, sat down with my performance manager, I was like, Hey, I'm going to do this. You need to give me a job so that I can come back and guarantee that. And so that's like the first time and probably like, cause I'm two, I want to be liked right on the Enneagram. So like actually walking in and due to your. Oh crap. I don't believe that you walked into someone's office and was like, you need to give me a job. Well, that's your eight side though. That is not eight. That's true. And then I went back, finished. My undergrad came out, worked that summer between, you know, before I started grad school, worked all the way during grad school and just really like still in state and local tax. So I am like, Blue blood state and local tax person.

Judy Vorndran Yeah. You worked in it too, out of the gate, which is not always common. We had a hard time recruiting people. I remember being on the recruiting team to get people, to even consider Saul out instead of federal or, you know, I mean, you'd be like really it's fun. You'll like it. No, I won't.

Meredith Smith And I don't know how to, and it's interesting. Cause like I still go back to like the meet the, from nights when I was an undergrad. And everyone, like at Miami was like, oh, I'm an audit. I'm an auditor. So you would be in these pods talking to people and like 95% of the room was auditory and it was, you know, and there were like 15 pods. And then you had this tiny little tax circle. Right. I want to do tax, you know, like. It seems interesting. I can't remember if I had taken it, I don't think I'd have taken a class. Like I think the one tax class was like senior year, but like just for whatever reason. And I don't know if it was because my brother had kind of like talked to me about what they do and whatnot, and like their group. And, you know, I think though, really I ended up there. Because of my brother and taking advantage of an opportunity. And I don't want to say I got it because of nepotism. Like I got there, like he opened the door, but I worked really damn hard and made the best damn copies that I could as an intern. Like I just, I wanted to be there. I wanted to do the work and like, I enjoy it so hard in my life. Right. This is the day, you know, this is still back where like you had a green work paper, binder was tax returns and red was perm files.

Judy VorndranI delivers bound studies. I mean, we weren't easy to deliver. I remember Billy Google copies because I'm like, this is a really expensive study. I need to put a cover on it. That's pretty because you know, they're paying a lot. It needs to look good.

Meredith Smith Even though the substance is what took all the time and the money, the process returns, right? Like we had the nice, little square thing that said name 2017 tax returns, or I'm going to at this point, like 2006, right. And like you would have your processing copy that, show all the invisible blue tick marks. Yes. And like the label maker that you would like to spend half your time doing arts and crafts, like label making an X on there. Cause you couldn't edit PDF so much or. Yeah. I mean, it's funny you say that we had a client back earlier in my career and I won't say who it was, but they insist that they know they were doing a lot of returns. So it was a lot of tiered partnership returns. I think Alex. Totally. Yeah. Well, he used to be my chairman. It's uh, it's not now, it's more like a preserve anyway.

Alex Korzhen So they were paying a lot of money for these thousands of returns that we were doing, um, on behalf of all of the entities. And I remember that. Absolutely insisted that we would space over, you know, in them. And on page one of the return where you had, you know, your address information, the header that we would space over the city and a state and the zip to fall exactly underneath where it says city, state, zip shout out. So you couldn't, you can't make that up. So. And I remember a lot of, you know, I think I was a senior at this point. So half the time I'm reviewing my associates work papers, I'm asking them to go back and re space the header. I think that that was one of my consistent review comments, you know, all my personal opinions on all that aside. Um, they were a huge client at the firm and it was just that, that presentation mattered.

Meredith Smith Cause when you e-file that thing, cause you were, you were e-filing at that point. Like it, you know, it all gets jumbled into this giant kind of conglomeration of things that doesn't look like a pretty page one. It's not like it goes to the IRS and like PDF format and they see how pretty it is. You get a client here that was similar, where they were. They wanted incorporated instead of ink, they wanted incorporated spelled out. And like there are system limitations on some of their returns or delineation. Yeah. We would have to like, in their client delivery copy, like type in PDF, like incorporated. Yeah, and we filed them. He used to drive me crazy though. Like all those little idiosyncrasies that you had to get, right. I mean, that is a certain level of expectation. You have worked at the big, a big four or whatever, like a really high level of integrity and the deliverable and high review points mean really good accuracy and excellence.

Judy Vorndran I really enjoyed that part of working in those environments because there was this level of excellence in terms of the people, the expectations that were deliverable. So that was also annoying, right? Yeah, it depends. Right. I mean, if it's something value added then yeah. By all means, but if we're just basing characters over okay.

Alex Korzhen But anyway, so it kind of sounds like Meredith that salt just happens to happen to you. I was going to ask you, you know, how'd you stumble upon salt, but it just happened.

Meredith Smith It did well. And kind of something that was really interesting too, if I had. Uh, resources at my disposal. Right. You know, cause like when you're a new staff or even like, you know, now as you transition to a job, like, you're, you kind of, depending on your personality is you place these like expectations on yourself and you, you know, when I came to tax office, I was the first salt person. So I was like, there's these expectations of like, I'm an expert I know at all, like, and you don't, you know, I've since gotten over this. Right. But like, you want to make sure. That people hire the right person and that you're smarter, you know what you're doing. And so you can be afraid to ask those dumb questions. Erin, what your mind you think is a dumb question? I have. You know, the ability to ask kind of the dumb questions and be vulnerable because like I lived with essentially like a senior in our group because it was my brother. And so I'd be like, you know, we would come home from work and this is how nerdy we are. Right? Like we'd be sitting outside having a glass of wine and be like, you know, I really don't understand the difference between combined and consolidated and he'd be like, well, here's what it means. And so I had kind of. That is introspective of. You know, being able to be vulnerable and learn and ask questions and not be afraid of the answer. Yeah. And I've, and I feel like that's something that I still like carry with me of like, there are no dumb questions, like, and the same thing with our clients. Right. Because our clients come to us in trouble. Right? Like you don't hire people for tax services in what we do from a consultancy perspective when you know exactly what you're doing and you're doing it. So, you know, kind of viewing that as, Hey, you don't understand, you feel as if you have a problem and it's okay to be vulnerable and it's okay to not be right. We have enough experience to kind of talk you through and tell you it's okay. And we can fix it, you know? And so that's just something that like, from the very beginning is being able to kind of create that like, Space to be vulnerable. And I kind of believe that in like all aspects of life, right? Like we're humans, we, you know, have abs and flows in life and careers and, you know, just things. And so just creating that safe space and just wanting to help people. Cause that's what someone in the very beginning. Took to deal with me. And that's what really kind of established how I view what I do and like being like a senior or, you know, like a teacher in that capacity.

Judy Vorndran Right. And our clients really don't understand it because it's all very complicated and business owners are working really hard. Make a business work, but they're dealing with all these other things in tax. That's the least of their concerns, but it can be a pretty big concern so we can help ameliorate that by being a part of it. It's and it's good to have that attitude. I think you have to have a spirit of service to really want to help people.

Alex Korzhen So that's probably a good pivot point to the next question. Um, Meredith what, uh, what does success mean to you? Do you think it's. Do you think you've achieved it? Do you think it's even achievable or is it just this idealistic reach that you just strive towards and never really get to?

Meredith Smith I think success is seasonal and it means different things to where you are in your life. So for us, there's kind of that tangible thing where like, Hey, we've worked really hard on this project. Here's the project. Our client's really happy, but then there's also. That idea of personal level of success and being happy in your career and it's, you know, and the evolution of your career changes. So, you know, I worked in big four when I was young and I was in my early twenties and I was like, all right, I am here. I'm going to work 18 hours a day. I got nothing else going on. Like. I am here to earn my battle scars and to just take it all in and to do what it is, and like being promoted and being like a resource and doing all of these things, like, you know, in big four, that was success at that stage in my life now as like I've gotten older and like my life circumstance change, right? Like I've got a husband and a kid and like, Garbage disposals drain. I've got two kids. I got littles. I don't sleep. I got a clog in the garbage disposal. Like, so success now is more, not so much of like that badge of honor that I'm a partner at big four or I'm this it is. I can create value for my clients and I can create relationships with the people that matter to me, which are. You know, the relationships with my clients, the relationships with the people that I work with and, you know, still grow my skill set and being able to provide value. So it's less now where I have to have this kind of. False sense of not superiority, but like, you know, there's a title that comes with being like, oh yeah, I'm a partner at KPMG, right? I'm a partner at Deloitte. I'm a big four partner at a law firm or, or wherever. That doesn't mean as much to me now, because I know, and I know we know that we do good work. And at the end of the day, it's about, you know, the success of being able to create those relationships and have that connection with.

Judy Vorndran Yeah. And to provide something that you know is technically complicated and you can make sense of it for others and to have that expertise and to be able to roll that out to people. I mean, we just never go obsolete, which is also very interesting to me, um, over my career, you know, just to say, wow, there's just always something happening every single day. Some new law change that we got to kind of pay attention to because it might affect one of our clients

Meredith Smith I remember, you know, again, like early on like the big four, we were the best. Right. And I won't, I wouldn't change. Like I'm not talking, I'm not talking crap like the big four. Like I learned so much. And I like the professional that I am today because of that experience and the big four is great. And we still do webinars and have relationships with that. And like, I'm not, I'm not, I'm not, you know, talking smack about the big four. So I remember like, When I was a staff member, I would review things like a provision or something from coming in. It's like, I wanted to make sure that I found holes in what someone provided or like, I want this to be right. Or you don't know what you're doing. And kind of the mentality of like, we're better than you. Yeah. We can find the things that you've done wrong. And so when I left that environment and I came to like a smaller firm, my goal was to say, I know I work for a small firm, but you're going to get something that you can't find holes in. You can't pick up a P like a work paper that I've prepared and just say, oh, because this came from someone who works at a small firm, it's going to be wrong. And so that was my goal. And I think that's something that we deliver that you can't say yes, we're, you know, we're an independent tax. But like, shit's really good. Like you're not going to find holes in it. Or if there's some things that could not be wrong, but might not be to a certain level or follow the law, we're going to caveat that and say, Hey, this is, you know, this hasn't been evaluated. We know what it is, but here's the information that, you know, we couldn't get there because of bad data. Right. So. Creating the assumptions and like putting out there that like, Hey, we know what we're doing this study. Doesn't reflect that because the information wouldn't allow it to.

Judy Vorndran Right. But we can give a good enough result so that you can have a really good framework. And then also we don't have the same leverage model of the big four plus 30% attrition. I mean, that's a pretty high model. I didn't realize after 14 years that there was so much attrition, you know, I hardly knew anybody. I started with. That's just not how it worked. Everybody who was something morphed into industry or somewhere else. So it was really a sad kind of sad to be there for a lengthy period of time and feel like you don't have any community anymore.

Alex Korzhen That's a really good observation cause I kind of follow some of the, some of the people that I used to know back, back in my early days, too, just professionally and, and they're, they're all scattered.

Judy Vorndran It's a starting ground. And, but the way it's set up, it's not really content driven and we're allowed at our firm to be more. I consider us more that we are a law firm, but like the law firm mentality of high technical resources. Hi competency, you know, do it once, you know, with light review, we don't need to do things over and over and over again with multilayers or someone's learning at the first level, and then someone's reviewing it the second level, and then someone's taking a pass. Like it's just good out of the gate because of the high technical competence in our group.

Alex Korzhen So Meredith you, uh, you're the most veteran person we have here at tax ops and saltier. You just celebrated your ten-year anniversary. Congrats. Congratulations. How have you seen the medium, small, medium size market change over the years? How have you seen tax ops change over?

Meredith Smith You know, outside of just some of the, like the, you know, we've had some like partners come and go and whatnot, but I think, you know, fundamentally tax hops has stayed the same in that central belief of. Providing service to our clients at a really high level, you know, that fixed fee model. We want to be your advocate. We want to be your partner in all of this. So that's kind of over the 10 years, no matter kind of like whatever partner there is, that's, that's the core of it. And then. You know, going back to that, like, we might be a small firm, but you're not going to find stuff that's blatantly, that's that's wrong that you would find, you know, that you would expect from coming, like the services that we provide from coming out of a small firm. So I think that's been, that's been modeled and that's been maintained and just, I think that like a sense of care. And again, connection with our clients and our people. That's been central to kind of how we operate, but then really kind of from an industry perspective, I'd say, you know, kind of going back, I was our first kind of again, in. State and local tax resources. So obviously that need was there, but I've seen it shift more where we've got existing clients and we need to convince them that they're not doing things correctly. And then we've got to convince them. That you need to do like some sales tax integrations, or you need to file more income tax returns. You're not just in Colorado. Like that's not how that works too. You know, people are calling us and they know now that like, and I think, you know, we've had multiple conversations kind of regarding this, that Wayfair was a big trigger for that of the public, you know, public decree of like, State taxes and issue. Not what it means, right. Where people are now aware that like, oh, I know I have now like a state tax duty versus like, I have to tell you so, right. It's more, you know, we have to convince people, versus people calling us to be like, okay, now I get it. Now I have, now I have an issue and I need you to fix it. So I think those are kind of like the biggest, it's a heightened awareness and heightened awareness for sure.

Judy Vorndran And the economy has changed a lot over my career. You know, obviously Amazon has, it came about in our careers. So it wasn't, it was who thought a bookseller would be selling anything you need, like dog food. You know, which has meaning, I need to order some dog food and some dog bones and get the giant 50 pound bags delivered to my door for free. And that's the other thing too, is like, is it just a matter, is it just a reflection of how, like, I've just been at the same place for 10 years, but like the shift in digital, everything has just, you know, just changed the way that we do.

Meredith Smith Altogether. Right. Like, you know, Alex, at some point teaser, we'll be talking about kind of the Maryland digital advertising tax. That's just, you know, another thing that you're just like, what the hell? Like, how are we going to figure out how to source that one? I know. Yeah. How are they going to figure out how to tell us?

Judy Vorndran It's going to be a, that's going to be an interesting one and there's a lot of money made in advertising actually. So a click through click through all that good stuff, make a purchase, you get a little something for it on the side. There's, there's a lot of money in SEO, so well, based on how much money I spend on the internet, I mean, obviously I'm just one consumer right.

Alex Korzhen Meredith Another interesting little factoid about you is that you're actually splitting your time between salt and federal. You're, you're kind of a floater between those two groups. How has it been practicing in both areas and kind of keeping up with it all? I mean, I'll confess, I, you know, as active as the states have been recently, I think it's hard to keep up just for salt and, and the federal, you know, and it's not like there hasn't been any activity on the federal side.

Meredith Smith Right. Which makes it the salt piece. Really fun. Again, spoiler alert. You can listen to me and Stacy talk about that too. Um, I've had a lot of conversations about, well, what the hell is happening? Cause we like, there's just a bunch of change, but I think it's a lot. And I wonder what's really is. Helpful is that I can be that go between, between the income tax piece, because I review most of the state routes, like all of the state returns that are going out, but then speak the language and see from this like income tax side, how that carries over into the consulting side or needing to do. Services. So there is, I can act as that goes between. Cause we do have, you know, a lot of clients that like, you know, we do the income tax for, and we have separate like consulting arrangements with, and that I can be the go between and make sure, you know, just from a quality control, like a baseline quality control that like conversations that we've had over here. You know, are applicable over here and are being integrated over here. And I'm not putting it out there that the two groups don't talk to each other. Right. Cause there are, you know, some audits and taxes at large firms. They don't talk to each other. Like I remember one of my, one of my senior managers was like, audit is actually our worst client because they're like, oh, Hey, I need you to review this provision yesterday.

You can't charge my code and we need to issue financial statements tomorrow. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. I remember him saying like, I, I know I can do it in an hour, so like not, we're not that like audience, we're not, you know, we do talk to each other, but just because I am so ingrained on one side and I am so on grind on the other, I can be that float. And like, I. You know, I like income tax, although with TC JIA and cares act and all of that stuff, it's getting a little bit harder to liking contacts because there's just like, they're just do, like, all of these things are happening so fast and like retroactively at the same time tax returns are due. So it's kind of like, well, you clarified something when my returns are already done. So like the letter of the law says this. I just filed a partnership return with 50 partners. I'm not going to amend that return. You know, it's a waterfall effect. Like things don't happen in a vacuum, but I do really like that aspect. And, you know, as a two on the Enneagram I want to be needed. And so the more feet and the more people I can like help. Is kind of like, it drives me and it gets me, you know, and it gets me going, so I can be a teacher on one and like with, you know, kind of the Colorado side and be more of like a learner and collaborator on the other side. Yeah. But it's not, it's not only that about you though. You, you know, your personality also kind of allows you to thrive in the details of it all.

Alex Korzhen Think about your personality though. That gets you there and, you know, and, and kind of second part to that question, the boss lady is insisting that I asked you about the dishwasher. Yes. We want to know about the dishwasher. Yes. Well, At the end of the day, like I'm an accountant by nature.

Meredith Smith And so I like the spreadsheets and the numbers and my husband and I have disagreements about our family schedule and it's in a Google sheet, but I don't like Google sheet because it doesn't have the full functionality of an Excel spreadsheet. And he thinks he's great at Excel. And I laugh at his face and I think his formatting is awful, but I also kind of have some like, Type a tendencies where like, I like things to be kind of structured and, and whatnot. And that's part of probably like my dad, because I remember we had these blocks, these wooden blocks as kids, and he would be like, kids come here and put these away. And you're like, well, they're there in the box. He's like, no, they're not organized. And so you had to kind of stack them appropriately. And, and so I've kind of just had this kind of organizational mindset and things in order I have had to loosen my. You know, loosen that as I had kids. And I was just like, whatever, like today I just need to get through the day. But the dishwasher came from utilizing as much kind of like I have a finite space and I have a lot of dishes that I don't want to. Hand Wash or like I'll spend 15 minutes reloading the dishwasher. Because my husband will put it like a giant bowl in the middle of the top rack. You can't get anything else in the dishwasher. So it's just kind of like, I can conceptualize and visualize how I want things to be, which has kind of transferred into kind of like our clients where, you know, We'll be in a meeting and I can hear them say, okay, here's what I think I need. And I'm already visualizing how I'm going to set up the spreadsheet. So in my mind, I've already laid it out. And I think a lot of the, sometimes a lot of the challenges, I don't know where to start. And so, because I think I know what it's going to look like in the end. I can just stop. Playing with data and like visualizing and manipulating data to get me to where I want to, to what I, where I want to be. And if you look at it you can see almost all of my deliverables look the same for the most part, like in terms of funds and like, Just like center justified and all of that stuff. Um, they all look generally really similar. Yeah. You also view our engagement letters because you're, you always find something wrong, but just like spacing just like drives me nuts and like, and at the end of the day too, I think, I think it's also a representation of like, we're so digital, but it's like, this is kind of one thing that we can give you tangibly that. You know, it looks like we took the time and consideration to like, even something that might not mean something to someone it matters to me. It's either like a type of thing that you like, or a control thing, or I go into any, well, you're the one who reviewed our website. Right. I mean, Luke Hass, Meredith, she'll see that.

Judy Vorndran They'll see the things that are missing. Like she's the one who gets it, like just let her do it. She'll it's perfect for her. I asked my husband to like, thanks for picking out all of the things that I've done wrong. Listen, I totally get it. Nobody else is allowed to load the dishwasher in this household, except me.

Alex Korzhen I'm the only one that maximizes the, you know, no one else can do it. That's me in clad, although the kids will put everything away, but so you said something about it made me think of the Lego movie, you know, a couple of years ago when the Lego movie first came out. Right. Exactly. What kind of monster would super glue Legos together now?

Meredith Smith You know, a couple of years down the road, my kids are playing with Legos. I'm like, that's it we're super glue. I, so no creative stuff here. I hate missing toys. So like me, my kids have a kitchen. And so like, I hate when, like, I know there should be six, like two spoons, two forks, two knives, four of these things, and like there's little play Keurigs and the phone. And like me, when my car was stolen, there were like, some of them were like fake mustard and like the colander in the car. Because the baby was into those. At those moments. Those are no longer with us. They got thrown out with everything else that got, you know, Yeah, dismantled in my stolen car, but it drives me like a little piece of me. Just like every time I have to, like, I cleaned up that kitchen just like it gets at me because I don't have the mustard and the colander. All right. So before we, uh, before we start rapid fire, I got just one more question. After all these years, is there anything that's professionally still surprising? I don't think so. Cause I guess, I guess to be surprised would mean that like you expect perfection and like, you know, we're all doing the best we can with the resources available at any given time. And so. You know, we've seen a lot, we've talked a lot, so I'm not really like surprised by anything more so than like I do kind of get frustrated and I'm not, and I'm not surprised with this mentality, but I get, I still get frustrated with the mentality of it's like, oh, well come and find me like, and that's, that's still something that just like, I can appreciate if you're making a business decision to not do something, but that overarching, like. I don't care, like kind of, you know, that privilege perspective of just like, it's fine. It doesn't matter without even really making an educated decision based on information. Right. Or thinking like not getting caught is a good strategy.

Judy Vorndran Yeah. It's like, you obviously have never been caught. So you really don't know how painful that can be. Then there is a minimization because the complexity feels difficult and we try to make it simpler. I think, by looking at it all and holistically, a lot of people still want a piece and part it out. And it's just interesting that that decision making still happens.

Meredith Smith Yeah. And it's like, we've, we've had that conversation multiple times, so it doesn't surprise me every time we do, but it just bothers me from a root core perspective. Maybe we'll take that as a yes, we're doing it. This is the, uh, this is the low-hanging fruit. This is easy. What a podcast. We, we know. What are you listening to? I have a few go-tos. I have the NPR politics podcast. Cause it's like a 15 minute nonpartisan. Just like here's what's happening. I listened to another political podcast called pantsuit politics. So bi-weekly shows run by two women and it's, it's more partisan, but they provide a nuanced take on policy and on politics and kind of give a little bit more like, kind of in depth review of, kind of politics and the political ends. I listened to NPRs it's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, which is just like a really good heartfelt song. I cry at the end of every Friday episode. That is like the best part of your week. And so like people write in and they say like, oh, I've either cure cancer. Or like, I finally got to hug my grandma. So literally every Friday, I'm just like bawling. I'm crying. Last culture recess with bone yang and Matt Rogers. So that's like the newest one that I've gotten into just like it's two friends, just like. Shooting the shit for a couple hours and it's just like really lighthearted and it's a different perspective and it's just like, it's just fun. And then I heard about this one through lots of culture. Rita's it's called, why don't you date me with Nicole buyers? So she is a comedian and has just like different guests on our show. And just, again, kind of like two people just hanging out and talking and like lighthearted and fun and you know, she's a comedian. And so it's like, don't, it was just fun. So I have like, My political brain, like, you know, learning and then just like my fun. Let loose kind of that side. Yeah. All right. Three words that Caitlin would use this. I asked her, I'm an adult. Sometimes I am smart. And I'm the best mommy in the world. One thing you learned during state. I learned that I, this is not so rapid-fire, but I learned that I cannot hide my kids and the fact that I'm a mom and I don't have to be ashamed of that identity and I can still be really good at my job and really care about the work that I do while still being a mom.

Judy Vorndran Yeah. And people give you grace. I think that's probably one of the best things. The pandemic is the dogs kids at FedEx, Amazon deliveries, like, oh, you know, it's just life at home. I have jamas and slippers at the end of the day where people are right. That does things. Just some days trying to get through it, but we're still people at the end of the day,

Alex Korzhen I feel like, I feel like a lot of working folks learned that lesson in the last year is that, is that we can just, we can kind of just scale it back a notch, just able to be a year next week, we got the first case in Colorado on like the 12th of March. Favorite date night?

Meredith Smith It used to be going to dinner, but now I like date days. So we like to just kind of go out in the middle of the afternoon, go outside, sit at a brewery, me and my husband, and just like, hang out with. Okay. So, and then, you know, yeah.

Alex Korzhen Nice. One thing about yourself that we may not know.

Meredith Smith So when I was young, I had some adventures through musical stylings, but I went through a period in high school where my favorite band was the band Korn. So I would go to kind of. Metal shows like rock music on the floor in marsh pits, front row of the bar, like getting pushed. When I was like 15, 16. So I had a little kind of like rock mosh, pit bays, which I don't know that many people know about me in this arena of my life or any of that. Not black hair. No, no golf looks okay. I bordered on that, but at the hospital visits while I still rocked the black eyeliner, I mean, come on. But I did have bruises on my arms from being pushed on the bar every once in a while you would have like the nice guy put his arms around you to brace himself. So you had like a little room, like, oh yeah. Monkey said to me one day I almost got his guitar, but. Yeah, it was, I hadn't even heard of this band Korn,

Alex Jorzhen Favorite movie?

Meredith Smith Major league hands down, but Cleveland from like the 80s, I love that movie.

Alex Jorzhen We're just talking about that just last week, actually. Yeah, just here at home. Mine and I have coffee or tea. How do you take it?

Meredith Smith Yeah. One brown, one white sugar cube, a little bit of an ELO creamer and skim milk and all day, all day, all day. Yes. How many cups has that been for you? I don't know, because I just keep on repeating like topping it off. Um, and then we'll microwave it like my husband likes to make fun of me. So I drink coffee till like four in the afternoon. We'll drink some water and then like, depending on how it is after work, drink more.

Alexander Korzen Perfect. All right. Well, I think we'll wrap it up Meredith. Thank you. Thank you, Alex. Boss, lady. Thank you. Thank you, Alex. Thank you everyone for listening to this is Alex Korzhen and we appreciate you tuning into the podcast. This podcast is for educational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be relied upon as legal tax accounting or investment advice. You should consult with a competent professional to discuss specifics of your situation and the applicability of the information presented. .

Questions asked and answered in this Episode:

  • How did Meredith get from Illinois to Colorado?
  • How did she end up in state and local tax?
  • What does success mean to Meredith? Does she feel like she’s achieved it?
  • How has she seen the small/medium market change over the years? How has she seen TaxOps change over the years?
  • How does she balance her time between state and federal taxes?
  • What does she think helps her thrive in the details?
  • Is there anything professionally that surprises Meredith?

What You Will Discover:

  • [00:35] How Meredith end up in Colorado and 
  • [02:42] Why she pursued state and local tax
  • [10:07] Why you should ask those dumb questions
  • [13:16] What success means to Meredith
  • [19:29] How she’s seen TaxOps and the small/medium market change over the years
  • [23:22] How Meredith splits her time between SALT and federal tax
  • [26:36] How she thrives in the details
  • [31:31] What surprises her professionally
  • [33:07] A few fun facts about Meredith


  • “I am like a blue blood state and local tax person.” – Meredith Smith [5:26]
  • “There are no dumb questions.” -Meredith Smith [11:43]
  • “We’re humans. We have ebbs and flows in life and careers and you know, just things. Just creating that safe space and just wanting to help people. ‘Cause that’s what someone in the very beginning took to do with me, and that’s what really kind of established how I view what I do in being a senior or a teacher in that capacity.” -Meredith Smith [12:30]
  • “When I left that environment and I came to like a smaller firm, my goal was to say ‘I know I work for a small firm, but you’re going to get something that you can’t find holes in.’ You can’t pick up a work paper that I’ve prepared and just say, ‘Oh, because they came from someone who works at a small firm, it’s going to be wrong.’” – Meredith Smith [17:03]
  • “Just because I’m so ingrained on one side and I’m so ingrained on the other, I can be that float.” – Meredith Smith [25:30]