Taste of Instacart

Meet Mike Wittig, VP of Tax

Instacart

Instacart

Dec 20, 2022

Mike Wittig joined Instacart in early 2022 to lead our Tax team. This team is tasked with covering all things tax including corporate income tax, US and international tax, state and local tax, and sales tax which is one of the most complex areas the team handles. 

We sat down with Mike to talk about his vision, what the team is focused on and what’s next. 

What were you doing before Instacart, and why did you join?

I’ve been with Instacart since April, a little over 8 months. Prior to joining the team, I spent ~10 years at Netflix before taking some time off to indulge in some of my favorite activities including golfing, hiking, and traveling. When the opportunity at Instacart presented itself, I was excited about the challenge – I took it and haven’t looked back. 

What grabbed my interest about Instacart was the opportunity to build a team and structure at a fast growing company. I very much enjoy that build mode. 

Prior to Netflix I spent about 10 years in public accounting at Arthur Andersen and working with mostly software companies in Silicon Valley.

How is your team structured at Instacart?

When I first came in the team was fairly small, it was roughly 10 people. Today, we’ve doubled in size and we have about 20 people on the team. My first priority coming to Instacart was to fill the open roles and build a best-in-class team. No one was going to know the business better than we do, so building a phenomenal internal team was essential. 

The interesting thing about tax is that we interact with all parts of the business including business development, retail partners, accounting, policy, legal, etc. There are so many tax adjacent issues that are not necessarily a pure tax project, but tax is an important piece of the business operations. 

Can you share an example of a result that your team has achieved that you are most proud of?

Without getting too into the weeds, the team has done an incredible job towards the efforts of eliminating “double tax”. 

There is this whole concept of a marketplace facilitator where we (Instacart) are deemed to be responsible in all these different states to collect and remit the sales tax. If we don’t set this up properly for our retailers, then we can result in paying double tax (where both we and the retailers pay the tax) and it’s not feasible for us to get it back. In the last 7 months we’ve successfully negotiated a bunch of different waivers, exemptions and administrative relief in 6 states to eliminate that double tax problem. We’ve cut our double tax exposure in half in the last 7 months! And we’re going to continue to prioritize this work moving forward and aim to reduce to zero eventually. 

What should someone know about Instacart before considering joining the team? 

Instacart is so unique because although we’re a tech company, we also operate in  the grocery industry, which has nuances and presents a distinct set of challenges. Anyone coming to Instacart should come in with the expectation that there will be a learning curve, but as time goes by, it will start to click. After a few months, your work will fall into place.

How would you describe your leadership style? How do you think of mentorship, career growth and development of your teams? 

I’m a firm believer in giving my team the context they need to get their work done, but I don’t want to get in their way. Great things happen when you can empower your team with the tools they need, and let them shine and do what they’re good at. 

The build mode applies to people too. I love developing people’s technical skills, but also soft skills and leadership skills. I love coaching people and hope they can benefit from some of my experiences over the years.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had earlier in your career that you can pass on now? 

We often hear the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff’ but when you’re in the middle of something it’s difficult to recognize what the small stuff is. I’ve learned that everything works out in the end, and if it hasn’t worked out then it’s not the end. There’s an old joke about how to eat an elephant, and you do it one bite at a time. It may seem insurmountable but don’t give up, keep plugging away and it will all work out in the end.

Instacart

Instacart

Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1000 national, regional and local retail banners to deliver from more than 75,000 stores across more than 13,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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