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Many lawyers, even if they strongly opposed welfare for big companies, would be loath to sue over corporate tax breaks for fear of losing potential business. But that didn’t stop Toledo, Ohio, solo practitioner Terry Lodge from filing suit on behalf of small businesses and angry taxpayers over two tax breaks totaling $86 million given to DaimlerChrysler to keep the automaker’s Jeep plant in Toledo. One is a personal property tax break of $30 million that would normally go to public schools and libraries. The second is a state corporation franchise tax break of $56 million. “These tax breaks are unfair to small businesses and taxpayer-persons who are taxed more to make up for the lost revenues,” says Lodge, who sued Toledo, the state of Ohio and DaimlerChrysler in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. He argues that the tax breaks are illegal under the commerce clause of the Constitution. “The plaintiffs are saying ‘Enough!’ to the race to the bottom, the competition among state and local governments to see who can destroy the tax base the most in order to retain a large corporation,” he says. A national expert on the constitutionality of corporate tax breaks, says that Lodge’s suit marks the first time a private lawyer has sued on behalf of individual taxpayers and businesses.

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