The tax community this week is mourning the loss of University of Southern California law professor Edward D. Kleinbard. Ed previously served as Ch
The tax community this week is mourning the loss of University of Southern California law professor Edward D. Kleinbard. Ed previously served as Chief of Staff at the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) from 2007-2009, following a distinguished career in private practice. Throughout his career, Ed wielded an exceptional combination of diligence, erudition, acumen, and wit, which in recent years he focused on promoting progressive fiscal reforms.
I first met Ed while working on financial taxation for the US Department of the Treasury. Ed was a partner at the New York law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP—a position he held for two decades. He frequently represented financial institutions in regulatory debates over the appropriate tax treatment of derivatives that blurred the lines between debt and equity and between ordinary income and capital gains. Ed’s command of this extremely complex and technical area of tax law was encyclopedic, although his ironic wit made his insights anything but dry reading.
After thirty years in private practice, Ed reoriented his career toward public policy and service. As JCT Chief of Staff, he launched an in-depth study of US tax expenditures, which had grown to overshadow budget outlays. This transformed the US into a country with a low tax burden but also relatively low provision of basic governmental…