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      Audit Unable to Measure Success of Nebraska Tax Incentives

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      Nebraska lawmakers conducted a performance audit of four business tax incentive programs and concluded they were unable to be fully evaluated due to vague standards.

      The Legislature's Performance Audit Committee said in a report Monday that the incentives were too vague to measure the programs' successes and if the incentives were working as intended.

      Sen. John Harms, chairman of the Performance Audit Committee, is calling for an in-depth review of The Nebraska Advantage Act as well as the three other programs included in the report. The programs are aimed at stimulating business activity and expanding the state's tax base.

      "We know the businesses that used these incentives have invested millions of dollars in the state and have created new jobs," Harms said. "What is not clear is how much of that activity may have occurred without tax incentives."

      The report says the largest incentive program, the Nebraska Advantage Act, allowed businesses to collect nearly $101 million in tax refunds and credits between 2008 and 2011. The other programs reviewed include the Nebraska Advantage Rural Development Act, the Nebraska Microenterprise Act and the Nebraska advantage Research and Development Act.

      Harms says now is a great time to determine if the incentives are producing the intended results at an appropriate cost to lawmakers.

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