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Supreme Court Decision Update - DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno

supreme3.jpgThe third of today’s four Supreme Court case, DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno (PDF of the opinion), deals with taxes, specifically, tax breaks given to large corporations to the detriment of your average taxpayer. Here, taxpayers and residents of Toledo, Ohio sued DaimlerChrysler after it was offered large tax credits and property tax exemptions in an effort to get it to expand its Toledo operations. The taxpayers sued under the Commerce Clause, claiming that the tax breaks depleted the state and local treasuries to which they contributed.

The Supremes, in a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, sided with Daimler Chrysler and reinstated the $300 million in tax breaks, stating - in essence - that the taxpayers lacked the legal right (or standing) to challenge the tax credit. The decision overturned the federal appeals court decision, which stated that the state’s credit illegally discriminated against Ohio corporate taxpayers that invested in other states. In the Court’s decision, Roberts wrote that the injury to the taxpayers was mere conjecture and that they had no standing to challenge tax or spending decisions, anyway, “simply by virtue of their status as taxpayers.”

In other words, paying taxes gives you no legal rights to challenge what the government does or does not do with those taxes, or in how it decides to charge corporations for taxes, or, alternatively: Pay your taxes and shut the hell up.