Re: When I read the article
Yeah, even the raging left-wing loon I am understood how that part of the article fell down and Tim was right to point out the absurdity of it.
And to the point of tax breaks, it is hard to discuss them in a forum such as this. I would define a tax break as a subsidy in a like-to-like scenario: If Widget Producer A and Widget Producer B were headquartered in the same tax jurisdiction and the same sector manufacturing the same widgets and they both had comparable financials, but one had a reduced tax bill, that is a subsidy. A real-world (though United States-based) is when looking how a state or even city works to lure a company to expand or relocate. This is often done by providing a refund for or an exemption from state taxes on profits, the same to property taxes, or special credits for certain types of purchases, wage levels, or things like that. Things that a competitor would not be able to get, even if they were located next door because they didn't bother to pit various states or cities against each other for an expansion.
In some situations, like the enticements to a company to invest in a distressed area, might in fact be more beneficial to the economy, a tax jurisdiction's general fund, or both. But others, like the sales, property, or profit taxes, are often done with little consideration to what it will look like it 10, 15, or 20 years when that exemption or agreement runs out.
In the US at least, those can be very expensive and have arguable benefits (a company will expand when there is demand for it, regardless of enticements by the government; it just might have picked a different jurisdiction). Texas is notorious for this and in 2012 alone refunded or exempted $14.9 billion in state taxes. That's just madness, as in most cases, the companies reaping those rewards still would have done what businesses do.