Conservative activist Chris Finney defends tax breaks for his own law firm

Finney: It's not like a special favor

Conservative activist Chris Finney is known for vigorously opposing tax breaks to private companies. But now that it’s being offered to his own law firm, he kind of likes the idea.

“Right now, my plan is to take it,” said Finney. “I’ve talked to a number of my friends in the anti-tax movement. They fully understand it and have no qualms about it.”

Finney signed a 42-month lease to open a new law firm at the Ivy Pointe Commerce Park in Union Township. Finney Law Firm LLC will have at least five lawyers and three office employees on Jan. 1.

The Union Township Community Improvement Corp. is scheduled to vote Dec. 12 on a resolution to award a grant equal to 10 percent of all payroll taxes paid by Finney’s firm to the Ivy Pointe Joint Economic Development District. That’s a special taxing district that Union Township established with Milford, enabling the township to collect an earnings tax at Ivy Pointe. It’s an industrial park best known as the home of Total Quality Logistics.

“This is something that I understand they offer blanket to anybody who moves into the JEDD,” said Finney. “It’s not like a special favor that anybody gave me. It’s just part of the deal, part of the contract in this JEDD.”

The Union Township offer drew a vigorous response on the web pages of the Cincinnati Business Courier, which was the first to report about the deal last week.

“Frivolous Chris Finney is the ultimate hypocrite,” wrote local blogger Craig Hochsheid.

“Is there no end to the welfare state?” Tweeted Derek Bauman, an Over-the-Rhine resident and streetcar supporter who campaigned for Roxanne Qualls.

The tweet was a reference to Finney’s comments to the Cincinnati Enquirer, in a story about incentives that were offered to Pure Romance. Finney’s anti-tax group, COAST, derided the city incentives package as a subsidy for sex toys.

Finney said his deal is considerably different than the $854,000, 10-year deal that Pure Romance received for bringing at least 60 jobs downtown.

“It’s probably going to be less than $1,000 a year,” he said. “It’s a very de minimis amount of money.”

The deal allows Finney to get a 15 percent earnings-tax refund if his law firm payroll exceeds $5 million. It lasts for the 42-month term of his Ivy Pointe lease. So, theoretically, it could be worth at least $7,500 a year for the Finney firm, if he expands beyond the $1 million payroll he now expects.

Still, if you’re against tax breaks, why not just turn it down?

Finney says he might.

“It’s been offered but I haven’t accepted,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I haven’t really given it a whole lot of thought.”

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