Another sad passing from among the tax professoriate. Jerry Kurtz, a former colleague of mine at NYU who is most famous for his time as IRS Commissioner, died last Friday.
Kurtz took over at the IRS not long after its low ebb during the Nixon era, involving what definitely were actual scandals involving White House malfeasance. He both helped to restore the actual and perceived integrity of the IRS, and had strong tax policy views involving the desirability of income tax base-broadening that commissioners have not always pushed as strongly as he did. He was a disciple of Stanley Surrey, and while I did not agree 100% either with Jerry or with Stanley (whom I never met, as he died the year before I entered academia), they were forces for good.
Kurtz also participated in the transformation of NYU Law School and our tax program into what they are today. At an earlier stage, only the tax program, not the law school, had enjoyed an eminent national reputation. As the law school rose, and as both legal academia and law practice were transformed, the tax program had to change in some ways, just to keep its high place. Jerry Kurtz and the late Paul McDaniel (also a great man) were then-dean John Sexton's first two wartime consiglieres (as I jokingly called them) towards this purpose, at least starting the count from when I got here.
Jerry was a great person in all senses, and I will miss him.