|Brigitte 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," says Alepin.
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.