Taxation panel hears bills to spur jobs, research

Spurring jobs and innovation in a state that leads the nation in unemployment were the focus of discussion Thursday on two bills before the Assembly Taxation Committee.

AB443, sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Brooks, D-Las Vegas, would give employers a break on payroll taxes if they hire new workers who have been unemployed for at least 60 days.

Another bill, AB414, would take a portion of tax abatements to fund research and commercialization of good ideas.

That bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Dina Neal, D-North Las Vegas, seeks partial repayment from companies who receive property or sales tax abatements. The money would be placed in a trust fund for use by Nevada research universities for commercialization of research and technology developed by faculty, researchers and students.

She said the bill takes a "recycled money approach," where companies that receive tax breaks would be asked to give back to the state to help generate new businesses from technology and research developed at the state's two universities in Las Vegas and Reno, and DRI, formerly known as the Desert Research Institute.

"If we're already giving abatements, why can't we ask for some of it back?" she asked.

Neal acknowledged glitches that would need to be addressed, such as calculating how much businesses would kick into the fund, and how it would be collected.

Companies that receive sales tax abatements pay only 2 percent on their purchased goods, but local government rates vary. The bill as currently written would require companies to return 3 percent of the abated tax amount into the research fund.

The concept of AB414 is similar to a sweeping economic development overhaul bill that will be heard by the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees Monday. That measure, AB449, also sets up a "knowledge fund," to be used to promote research and development and bring new inventions to market, though a source of funding was not immediately identified when legislative staff briefed reporters on the bill last week.

Another bill heard Thursday is AB443. That measure targets Nevada's high jobless rate by providing businesses an incentive to bring unemployed workers into their fold.

It would allow employers to deduct from their payroll tax obligations total wages paid to a new hire who had been unemployed for at least 60 days.

The deduction would be allowable for a year. In the second year, employers could deduct 50 percent of wages paid to that employee.

Brooks said safeguards in the bill will ensure employers who take advantage of the tax break actually expand their labor force by requiring a yearly comparison on the number of employees.

No action was taken by the committee.


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