Hey Google, who are the best tax law professors in the country?
According to Google Scholar, Albany Law School Professor Danshera Cords is one of them. She’s ranked 80th among law professors around the country and the ranking is calculated based on where scholarly articles are placed and cited.
“It’s extremely flattering to see that the pieces that I write in tax law are having an impact,” she said. “The number is based on where the articles are placed and where the citations of those works are being cited, and it means that people are reading and citing the work that I write. It’s very meaningful.”
Much of her scholarship focuses on shedding light on taxpayer rights and how issues and events—anything from COVID to a major hurricane—and the tax system and disaster relief procedures can sometimes cause more harm than intended.
She hopes her scholarship can start a dialogue of more holistic justice in distributing disaster relief as well as how the tax system offers a different experience for people based on factors like location, income level, and access to services to help you navigate the complexities.
“When we have these mega humanitarian crises and we're trying to address them with the systems we have in place—which are not entirely adequate—and figuring out how not only to address them in a one-off manner, but also to do it in a more equitable fashion in different locales,” she said.
Students Provide Tax Prep Services for Community Through Federal Program
As the crises arise again, inevitably, they can affect people differently depending on the laws where they live.
“They're not really one-off problems. There are things that are going to come along over and over again whether we want them to or not,” she said. “But Congress and our systems are treating them like these are once in a lifetime events, even though predictively, we can see that you know some of the same circumstances will happen again. Then we have victims in one state worse off compared to victims in another state, simply because they happen to be victims of a hurricane immediately before an election versus immediately after election or their state had a rainy day fund but others didn’t.”
A tax law course may sound daunting to a student with a passion for the written word, not numbers, but much of tax law coursework is learning about the system overall and critically thinking about access to justice within the tax system.
“The system may work very differently if you're at the bottom end of the income spectrum versus at the top end. It's intended to do that, but whether you're at the bottom end or the top end, everyone has rights,” she said.
“It can also be a scary thing for students in law school. Not everybody took accounting or economics or wanted to take math. But tax isn't as much about that as it is about how we fund the government, how we pay for roads and infrastructure, and how we operate overall as a society,” she said. “There is a lot of policy in the decisions that we make about who we tax, what we tax, and how we tax it.”