Get to Know: Joe Schmidt, Tax Director, Grant Thornton-Denver

by Jamie Overberg

FTL is starting a monthly feature of a person of interest in our community. In our first post, we feature Joe Schmidt, State & Local Tax Director at Grant Thornton, and Vice President for FTL’s Denver Chapter.

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Joe selected Chaminade University of Honolulu in Hawaii for his undergraduate degree.  As evidence that life throws unexpected opportunities to you, Joe did not transfer as he had planned to another school as he fell in love with his roommate’s sister, Betty.  They married before they graduated and been happily together for more than 40 years.  Since then, Joe has collected many fascinating career tax experiences.

Joe started as a tax intern at Touche Ross.  He marvels about how far the tax industry has come.  For those of us who started our careers long ago, we can appreciate Joe’s early experience.  Joe started as a generalist attacking tax preparation by hand writing on actual printed IRS forms.  He received review comments that his input was sloppy.  He resolved the problem by using the blue pencil (you know the kind that does not show up on a copier) to create lines and commas to ensure his scribe was straight.  As many of us also did some audit with our tax time, he once had to verify an inventory for an art client.  He was scheduled for two days but spent two weeks on the project.  The audit manager communicated his frustration to Joe for his lack of efficiency.  However, he was spending his efforts on accuracy.  As a result, it was discovered employee theft had pillaged a third of the art inventory.  Although the audit manager thanked him later for his thoroughness, Joe decided he did not like audit work.

Joe wanted to work abroad taking the path of international tax.  He worked for Phillips Petroleum spending time in Norway.  His career also took him to Denver with Phillips Petroleum allowing him to obtain his MBA at University of Denver.  It was while working for BP Petroleum that a job assignment landed him in the world of state and local tax.  As his interest in this specialty grew, Joe then pursued his JD at Cleveland State University.  His next move was to Charlotte to specialize in SALT for KPMG briefly before moving over to Deloitte.   At KPMG and Deloitte, he focused in national restructuring transactions for companies from a wide variety of industries.  After a brief stint as an appeals officer for Alaska Department of Revenue, Joe and his wife landed back in Denver as a SALT Tax Director at Grant Thornton.  They are very happy to be back in Colorado enjoying trips to North Carolina to visit their daughter and two granddaughters.

Joe attended a FTL tax detox event and quickly grew attached to the group’s inclusive nature.  He truly enjoyed socializing with associates from industry and public.  Joe was further impressed with meeting students and mixed accounting professionals.  Joe believes senior professionals have a responsibility to foster earlier generations and views FTL as a great vehicle for this aim.  Joe looks forward to getting to know more of the tax professional community at all FTL events.