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Monday, November 23, 2009

Death of Ward M. Hussey

Ward M. Hussey, who worked for 42 years in the Office of Legislative Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives and was the primary drafter of the Internal Revenue Codes of 1954 and 1986, died on November 16 at the age of 89.  He began work in the Office of Legislative Counsel in 1946 and served from 1972 until his retirement in 1989 as Legislative Counsel.

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Comments

Working with Ward Hussey, even in a small way, was as great a professional honor as I ever had. I think he began drafting in the military--I believe he was on Okinawa--and never looked back. He was the closest thing to a human embodiment of the tax code, and no one will ever do it quite like he did.

Posted by: mike livingston | Nov 23, 2009 3:07:39 PM

I was fortunate to have spent some time with Ward in two of his careers, both in Congress and later working internationally. I was at Treasury from 1983-86 and participated in some of those famous drafting sessions that Dan Shaviro describes in his blog. I believe that at some point I tried to work out some draft statutory language, which received the typical reaction from Ward.

Ward's drafts of course were better than anyone else's but there was a more important reason why he rejected draft language prepared in advance. For him, producing the actual words was a relatively easy step. The main work of the drafting process was to understand, and to continue to develop, the policy. Once this was developed through discussion, one could start formulating draft language.

Subsequently when I joined the IMF and started drafting tax laws around the world, I looked to Ward as a source of inspiration, knowledge, and example. I first encountered him in this context in the Dominican Republic, where he prepared (along with Don Lubick) what would become the Basic World Tax Code. I also arranged for Ward to work in Mongolia, China, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, and Palau.

Ward had of course a very high level understanding of tax law, but he distilled it to the appropriate level of simplicity in working in the above countries, for many of whom tax law was a new subject. Ward was much beloved by all those he worked with in these various countries, and I got the sense that he found these assignments quite satisfying. Fundamentally, he was a teacher, and all of us who were his students are in his debt.

Posted by: Victor Thuronyi | Nov 24, 2009 9:43:16 AM

A great American.

Posted by: Pat Oglesby | Nov 24, 2009 9:59:52 AM