Alepin is a new entry this year
Brigitte Alepin is the Canadian writer and tax specialist
whose book La Crise Fiscale Qui Vient, or The Coming
Fiscal Crisis, inspired the film The Price We Pay, which came
out in 2015. The film looked at "big-business tax avoidance,
which has seen multinationals depriving governments of
trillions of dollars in tax revenues by harbouring profits in
offshore havens", interviewing tax policy leaders, activists,
academics and business people, such as Pascal Saint-Amans, Nick
Shaxson, Thomas Piketty and Stuart Fraser, formerly of the City
of London Corporation. La Crise Fiscale Qui Vient
emerged from her work on how to adapt the tax system to
globalisation, which she did for a research contract at
Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
"I graduated at 40 and had time to think more," she says.
"The book was about the urgency of adapting the tax system to
the fiscal crisis. I felt it should not just be read by tax
policymakers but also by taxpayers. Then I thought about doing
a film and it didn't take long to get the investment."
Harold Crooks directed The Price We Pay and wrote the script
with Alepin. The film was produced by Nathalie Barton, who felt
she had to after reading the book one weekend.
"It is the story of MNCs who pay nothing or almost nothing,"
The film has been shown all over the world since its first
screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014
and was voted the best Canadian documentary of that year by the
Vancouver Film Critics' Circle. It had its New York premiere in
October 2015. The OECD, the World Bank and UN have highlighted
and spoken about the movie, and a presentation to the US Senate
is in the offing.
But in case anyone thinks this is a flight of fancy by
someone more interested in the drama rather than the facts,
Alepin has a serious tax pedigree. She has a master's degree in
public administration from Harvard and a master's degree in
taxation law from Sherbrooke University. She is also the
founder of TAXCOOP, an international conference on tax
competition, which was first held in Montreal in November.
And another film is coming from the team behind The Price We
Pay. Alepin revealed to International Tax Review that
funding has been secured for a movie about the use by the
ultra-rich of private foundations, which Alepin covered in a
chapter of La Crise Fiscale Qui Vient, but had to be
left out of the The Price We Pay.