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If you get a tax refund, there are some smart things to do with it.

A national study of the budget risks associated with business tax incentives favorably cites Nebraska as a state that requires an 11-year projection of the fiscal impact of its largest business incentive program, the Nebraska Advantage Act.

The study conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts was directed at reducing the budget risks created by a variety of business development tax incentives.

"Some state officials make the case that forecasting the cost of every incentive is not necessary, because some programs are small and are designed or targeted in such a way that they are likely to remain small," the report stated.

"At a minimum, states should monitor their largest incentives (and) those that lack clear projections to prevent them from costing more than anticipated."

The largest incentives "could cause significant budget problems if they cost more than expected," Pew warned in the report.

Nebraska's business growth and economic development tax incentives revolve around investment and job creation. 

Pew's report told a cautionary tale directed at careful consideration of future costs associated with current and proposed state incentives.

"A sudden, unexpected decrease in revenue is one of the most challenging budget situations that state governments can face," the report stated.

One of the strongest protections against surprise increases in tax incentive costs is an annual limit, or cap, on program costs, Pew concluded.

"When policymakers are caught off guard, they often must quickly make difficult choices between raising taxes and cutting spending to keep budgets balanced," the report warned.

The Nebraska Advantage Act, enacted in 2005, is the state's primary business tax incentive tool. It is the descendant of the original business development and job creation package approved by the Legislature in 1987.

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On Twitter @LJSDon.


Political reporter

Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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