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Global Tax 50 2016: Allison Christians

Associate professor, H Heward Stikeman chair in the law of taxation at the McGill University faculty of law; blogger.

Allison Christians
Allison Christians was also in the Global Tax 50 2015

Allison Christians, an established tax lawyer and the H Heward Stikeman chair in tax law at the McGill University faculty of law in Canada, has a profound understanding of international tax policy and economic development. Her technical knowledge has been vital in understanding the big talking points in international taxation, especially throughout the technical tax news developments during 2016.

Christians has extensive experience in tax, from her work in the private sector, to her research and academic teachings.

Most notably, Christians has been wary about the development of the BEPS Project within the OECD. She told International Tax Review that it "further entrenches a past that got us into what we're in now". A lot of the issues in the BEPS Project are still unclear, however. "Policy change takes time and deliberation, and rightfully so," she said.

For Christians, the big story for 2016 was always going to be about the OECD's BEPS Project. "The implementation has started, and the hardening of some soft ideas is ongoing this year, and we are starting to see what we really agreed to," she said. "But I think one of the big stories that maybe doesn't get as much discussion is the role of non-OECD countries going forward."

When the new inclusive framework was launched in June, many developing countries were brought in to work on standard-setting policies that would assist with the global implementation of the BEPS standards. However, Christians is wary as to what the chances or opportunities are for low-income countries to get these issues resolved. "2016 was holding a lot of promise but I think a lot of the reforms will be pushed into 2017 and beyond as the OECD gets into the peer monitoring," Christians said.

As lot of the countries that were formative in the BEPS Project were already largely compliant. So, according to Christians, BEPS is really about changing certain practices in other countries. Overall, she finds that 2016 didn't clarify a lot. "It wasn't so clear what people wanted and what their interests were, and now we see that playing out in slow implementation or debates about implementation," Christians said. "On the other hand, a lot of countries will say that they are BEPS-compliant and you can date them prior to 2015."

"Some things are in motion, but really the big story from 2016 is the development of peer monitoring and we will have our first look at what that will be like in the peer monitoring documentation," she added.

A renowned author of scholarly articles and books, Christians has written across numerous topics within taxation. Some of her recent articles are: "Avoidance, Evasion, and Taxpayer Morality" in Wash. U. J. L. & Pol'y (2014), "Good Tax Governance and the Issue of Political Influence" in Tax Abuses, Poverty and Human Rights (2014), and "Drawing the Boundaries of Tax Justice" in The Carter Commission After 50 Years (2013).

Apart from her academic papers and reports, Christians is an avid blogger. She writes across all matters of taxation and uses the space to highlight tax developments she is engaged in. "We are in some heavy traffic in terms of international tax these days. There's a lot going on and there's a lot of noise, so where do you go? For me, it's knowing a few people on Twitter and a few blogs that I follow pretty regularly," said Christians. She encourages fellow tax professionals to write about their opinions, research and findings. "People are hungry for really serious research and want to engage with others," Christians said.

The Global Tax 50 2016
View the full list and introduction
The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence
1. Margrethe Vestager2. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
3. Brexit4. Arun Jaitley
5. Jacob Lew6. Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet
7. Operation Zealots8. Guy Verhofstadt
9. Theresa May (and the 'three Brexiteers')10. Donald Trump
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order
Kemi AdeosunPiet Battiau
Elise BeanMonica Bhatia
Allison ChristiansTim Cook
Rita de la FeriaCaroline Flint
Judith FreedmanChrystia Freeland
Pravin GordhanOrrin Hatch
Meg HillierMulyani Indrawati
Lou JiweiPaul Johnson
Stephanie JohnstonChris Jordan
Pravind JugnauthWang Jun
Jean-Claude JunckerKathleen Kerrigan
Christine LagardeWerner Langen
Jolyon MaughamAngela Merkel
Narendra ModiWill Morris
Michael NoonanGrace Perez-Navarro
Platform for the Collaboration on TaxDonato Raponi
Pascal Saint-AmansHeather Self
Robert Stack Tax Justice Network
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Transparency International
US Committee on Ways and MeansRodrigo Valdés

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