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Report: No easy way to compare Neb. tax incentives

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- State officials don't have enough information to measure how well Nebraska's tax incentives stack up against others in the Midwest and Plains, according to a report released Wednesday.

A report by the Legislature's Performance Audit Committee found that Nebraska offers fewer tax credits for business investors than other nearby states. Nebraska was the only state out of 10 reviewed that did not offer exemptions for corporate income or inventory taxes. And unlike Nebraska, most of the other states offered tax credits for job-training programs.

But the state programs and economies vary so widely that it's difficult to tell whether Nebraska has gained an edge, according to the report. For instance, three states — South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming — don't offer tax credits because they have no income tax.

The Legislature's Performance Audit Committee looked at the incentives offered by Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

The committee chairman, Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, said his staff is looking at specific goals to gauge whether the tax incentives have worked as intended.

The largest of Nebraska's tax-incentive laws, the Nebraska Advantage Act, has created about 7,100 full-time jobs since its inception in 2006, at a cost of $412 million in tax credits, according to the Department of Revenue.

In February, the Performance Audit Committee reported that Nebraska has no way to judge whether its tax incentives have succeeded in attracting businesses, or whether the companies would have come regardless. The report concluded that the state was spending $43,000 to $235,000 for each job created by the Advantage Act.