Biography

Alice Pirlot is a Research Fellow in Law at the Centre for Business Taxation. Alice’s research focuses on environmental taxation and the interaction between tax and World Trade Organization law. 

Prior to joining the Centre, Alice was a research fellow of the National Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) at the University of Louvain, where she completed her PhD in April 2016.

During her doctoral studies, Alice has been a visiting researcher at the WU Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law (Austria), the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance (Germany), the School of Economics and Management of Lund University (Sweden) and the Levin College of Law of the University of Florida (the United States).

Alice studied law at the Universities of Namur, Antwerp and Louvain (Belgium). During her studies, she also spent a semester at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. In addition to her master’s and doctoral degrees in Law, Alice holds a Master of Arts in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe (Poland).

Alice has been awarded various prizes and scholarships, including the InBev-Baillet Latour scholarship, FNRS doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships and grants from the Belgian International Youth Office. In 2017, she received an Honourable Mention of the International Fiscal Association for her doctoral thesis.

Alice has been conducting research on:

  • Environmental border tax adjustments (their role, design and legal limits)
  • WTO law’s impact on the adoption of tax measures
  • EU energy and environmental tax law        
  • The taxation of the aviation sector          
  • Taxation and the UN Sustainable Development Goals      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Publications

Recent additions

  • A Pirlot, 'Carbon Border Adjustment Measures: A Straightforward Multi-Purpose Climate Change Instrument?' (2021) Journal of Environmental Law
    Carbon border adjustment measures (CBAMs) are instruments that can be used to mitigate climate change, but also have a positive impact on trade, climate leadership and even public finance. In this article, I challenge the view that they can serve as straightforward multi-purpose instruments. In a first step, I analyse each of the purposes that can be achieved through CBAMs and explain their underlying differences. In a second step, I discuss their legal design and explain how CBAMs’ design features affect the types of purposes that they can achieve. I apply this two-step analytical framework to the European Union context, where a proposal for a regulation establishing a CBAM has been published by the European Commission in July 2021. I demonstrate that the design of the EU CBAM is inconsistent with the Commission’s main objectives of promoting fair competition and climate mitigation in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU CBAM proposal is primarily an instrument of climate leadership.
  • A Pirlot, 'Some Observations on the Tax-Related Provisions in the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement' [2021] British Tax Review
    This short note gives an overview of the provisions in the EU–UK TCA as it relates to tax matters. The objective is to clarify the impact that the EU-UK TCA might have on the future of UK tax policy. Tax-related provisions in the EU–UK TCA can be divided into two main categories: first, the “traditional” tax-related provisions that are generally included in trade agreements (the provisions on customs duties, internal taxes, export duties, carve out for double tax treaties and tax exception); secondly, the “new” tax-related provisions that have not been included in other trade agreements previously concluded by the EU (the provisions on good tax governance, fiscal subsidy, sector-specific exemption, carbon pricing and administrative co-operation).
  • Richard Collier, A Pirlot and John Vella, 'Tax policy and the COVID-19 crisis' (2020) Intertax
    This article provides some preliminary thoughts on tax policy and the COVID-19 crisis. In the first part, it discusses fiscal measures available to policymakers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The role of taxation will evolve over the different phases of the pandemic: measures have already been adopted to respond to the crisis in the short-term, but questions remain as to the types of measures that should be adopted in the medium and longer-term. In the second part, this article discusses the current and possible future effects of the pandemic on international tax policy.

Journal Article (4)

A Pirlot, 'Carbon Border Adjustment Measures: A Straightforward Multi-Purpose Climate Change Instrument?' (2021) Journal of Environmental Law
Carbon border adjustment measures (CBAMs) are instruments that can be used to mitigate climate change, but also have a positive impact on trade, climate leadership and even public finance. In this article, I challenge the view that they can serve as straightforward multi-purpose instruments. In a first step, I analyse each of the purposes that can be achieved through CBAMs and explain their underlying differences. In a second step, I discuss their legal design and explain how CBAMs’ design features affect the types of purposes that they can achieve. I apply this two-step analytical framework to the European Union context, where a proposal for a regulation establishing a CBAM has been published by the European Commission in July 2021. I demonstrate that the design of the EU CBAM is inconsistent with the Commission’s main objectives of promoting fair competition and climate mitigation in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU CBAM proposal is primarily an instrument of climate leadership.
A Pirlot, 'Some Observations on the Tax-Related Provisions in the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement' [2021] British Tax Review
This short note gives an overview of the provisions in the EU–UK TCA as it relates to tax matters. The objective is to clarify the impact that the EU-UK TCA might have on the future of UK tax policy. Tax-related provisions in the EU–UK TCA can be divided into two main categories: first, the “traditional” tax-related provisions that are generally included in trade agreements (the provisions on customs duties, internal taxes, export duties, carve out for double tax treaties and tax exception); secondly, the “new” tax-related provisions that have not been included in other trade agreements previously concluded by the EU (the provisions on good tax governance, fiscal subsidy, sector-specific exemption, carbon pricing and administrative co-operation).
A Pirlot, 'Don’t Blame It on WTO Law: An Analysis of the Alleged WTO Law Incompatibility of Destination-Based Taxes' (2020) Florida Tax Review
The idea that corporations should be taxed in the jurisdiction where they make their sales or provide their services is getting more and more attention in the policy debate on international taxation. In 2016, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan proposed to introduce a destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT) in order to reform America’s corporate income tax (CIT). Moreover, in the last few years, more and more countries have considered the adoption of new rules to tax the digital economy in the country where the users and/or the consumers are located. These proposals differ from traditional direct taxes imposed on corporations. They borrow from the tax design of indirect taxes, such as sales taxes or value added taxes. Consequently, it is difficult to predict whether these sui generis destination-based taxes will fit in with superior legal provisions, in particular international tax and trade law. One recurring legal argument against destination-based taxes is that they are likely to violate the law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Using the DBCFT as a case study, this Article will assess the different conflicts that could arise between new types of destination-based taxes and international trade law. Based on a critical approach informed by the analysis of the history and case-law surrounding destination-based taxes, this Article concludes that the likelihood for a DBCFT to be found incompatible with international trade law is much lower than past legal scholars have concluded. WTO law does not in itself prevent countries from adopting such taxes. Since this conclusion could be extended by analogy to other, new types of destination-based taxes, this Article could have important implications for policy-makers who are willing to move towards taxation in the country of destination.
Richard Collier, A Pirlot and John Vella, 'Tax policy and the COVID-19 crisis' (2020) Intertax
This article provides some preliminary thoughts on tax policy and the COVID-19 crisis. In the first part, it discusses fiscal measures available to policymakers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The role of taxation will evolve over the different phases of the pandemic: measures have already been adopted to respond to the crisis in the short-term, but questions remain as to the types of measures that should be adopted in the medium and longer-term. In the second part, this article discusses the current and possible future effects of the pandemic on international tax policy.

Chapter (1)

A Pirlot, 'Exploring the Impact of EU Law on Energy and Environmental Taxation' in C. HJI Panayi, W. Haslehner, E. Traversa (ed), Research Handbook in European Union Taxation Law (Edward Elgar 2020)
This chapter shows that EU law has shaped – and continues to shape – the development of environmental tax measures at both EU and Member State level. Firstly, at the EU level, the EU’s institutional framework has actually inhibited the harmonisation of environmentally-driven taxes. An analysis of the historical development of EU provisions surrounding energy taxation illustrates this point (sections 2.1. & 2.2). So far, the energy taxation directive remains largely disconnected from the EU’s climate policy, including the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (section 2.3). Secondly, EU substantive law has had an ambiguous impact on Member States’ environmental tax policy (section 3). On the one hand, EU substantive law has been interpreted by the EU Court of Justice in a way that encourages Member States to adopt environmental tax measures that are environmentally-driven and structured accordingly. Indeed, the environmental purpose of Member States’ tax measures seems to play a positive role in the assessment of their compatibility with EU law, including State aid provisions (section 3.1), the fundamental freedoms (section 3.2) and the energy taxation directive (section 3.3). On the other hand, in some instances, EU law strictly limits Member States’ ability to adopt environmentally-driven tax measures. Moreover, EU secondary law disregards the purpose of environmental taxes in order to classify them for statistical purposes (section 3.4). The broad picture that emerges from the analysis of existing legislation, case-law and literature highlights that institutional and substantive EU law has shaped the use of environmental tax measures in a way that does not ensure the alignment of these taxes with the EU’s and Member States’ environmental and climate ambitions. Therefore, the last section of this chapter suggests new areas of research, which could improve the consistency of environmental tax policy at both EU and Member State levels (section 4).

Book (1)

A Pirlot, Environmental Border Tax Adjustments and International Trade Law: Fostering Environmental Protection (Edward Elgar 2017)
The book is structured around three main topics: the rationale, the tax design and the legal framework of environmental border tax adjustments. This three-fold analysis gives an overview of the legal issues that should be considered before the adoption of environmental border taxes, including carbon tax adjustments. The critical approach to the arguments surrounding traditional and environmental border tax adjustments allows for detailed legal analysis going beyond the question of their compatibility with WTO law, while also reviewing the economic argument.

Research programmes

Research Interests

  • Environmental border tax adjustments (their role, design and legal limits)
  • WTO law’s impact on the adoption of tax measures
  • EU energy and environmental tax law         
  • The taxation of the aviation sector          
  • Taxation and the UN Sustainable Development Goals   

Research projects