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Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act Guide

Revised June 2018

This guidance document is advisory in nature but is binding on the Nebraska Department of Revenue (Department) until amended. A guidance document does not include internal procedural documents that only affect the internal operations of the Department and does not impose additional requirements or penalties on regulated parties or include confidential information or rules and regulations made in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. If you believe that this guidance document imposes additional requirements or penalties on regulated parties, you may request a review of the document.

This guidance document may change with updated information or added examples. The Department recommends you do not print this document. Instead, sign up for the subscription service at revenue.nebraska.gov to get updates on your topics of interest.


Introduction

The Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act (Act) provides a refundable individual income tax credit to individual applicants who are actively involved in operating a microbusiness based on demonstrated growth of the business over two years. An individual must submit a Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Application (application) to reserve credits. The Act allows the Nebraska Department of Revenue (Department) to authorize tax credits in the amount of $2 million each calendar year, plus any unclaimed credits carried forward from the prior year. The applicant may earn a credit equal to 20% of the increase in new investment or new employment at the microbusiness in the year of application and the year after application. The total lifetime tax credits claimed by any single applicant and any related persons are limited to $10,000.

The applicant may file a subsequent application after the first two-year application period has ended. The applicant may claim no more than the difference between the $10,000 lifetime limit and the amount previously approved plus any pending amount currently reserved for the applicant or a related person.

If the growth in the microbusiness is intended to benefit more than one individual actively involved in the microbusiness, each individual should submit a separate application, reference each individual as a related person on the application, and split the estimated amounts of new investment and new employment accordingly.

Eligibility Requirements

The Act requires that the following eligibility requirements be met at the time of application:

  • Active Involvement. The individual applying must be actively engaged in the operation of the microbusiness with personal involvement on a daily basis in the management and operation of the microbusiness. Any individual for whom the microbusiness is considered a passive activity for federal income tax purposes is not actively engaged in the operation of the microbusiness.

  • Number of Full-time Equivalent Employees. The microbusiness must employ five or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees at the time of application. The Department requires that the applicant provide documentation to show the total hours paid during the pay period that includes the first business day of the application year, or the date of application, whichever is later. If the microbusiness is not yet operating at the time of application, the applicant will be required to show that at the time of application and during the first full pay period for which the business is fully operational, the business employs five or fewer FTEs. The Department may request payroll registers for additional periods.

    Note: The number of full-time equivalent employees does not equal the number of individuals employed in many cases. A part-time employee equals less than one equivalent employee. An employee who worked overtime may equal more than one equivalent employee.

  • Farmers and Livestock Operators. An application will not be accepted from an individual actively engaged in the operation of a farm or livestock operation with a net worth of more than $500,000, including any holdings by a spouse or dependent, based on fair market value. A microbusiness involved in the following activities is not subject to the $500,000 limitation for farm and livestock operations: processing or marketing of agricultural products raised by another person; aquaculture; agricultural tourism; or the production of fruits, herbs, tree products, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, organic crops, or nursery crops.

  • Realtor or other businesses which require an employment relationship. An applicant who is required to hold a license to conduct the microbusiness and that license is controlled by another person, or is dependent on supervision by some principal, will not be considered to be operating a separate microbusiness and cannot qualify for credits under the Act. The applicant will be considered an employee of the principal. If the principal meets the requirements for the microenterprise tax credit, an application could be filed by a person actively engaged in the operation of the principal. See GIL 29-17-1 for additional information.

  • E-Verify. A microbusiness under the Act must use E-Verify, a federal electronic verification program, to ensure that Nebraska employees hired after the date of application are legally able to work in Nebraska. An applicant must provide proof of registration with E-Verify at the time of application.

Benefits will not be granted unless the applicant can prove that the work eligibility status of all newly hired employees employed in Nebraska has been electronically verified in a timely manner. All hours worked by, and compensation paid to, an employee who is not timely confirmed as eligible to work in Nebraska will be excluded from the calculation of any tax incentive for all periods.

Establishing an Application Date

An individual must file the application and all items in Part 1 of the application must be properly completed. If any of these items are omitted or are incomplete, the application date will be adjusted to the date on which the last of these items is received.

The application date will determine the base year used for employment and investment calculations. The date of a completed application will be used to determine the priority for the authorization of the project’s expected benefits. There is at least $2 million available for each calendar year through 2022.

The certified mailing receipt stamped by the United States Postal Service (USPS) or a USPS postmark will serve as the verification of the date mailed, and the mailing date for the last item needed for a complete application becomes the application date. If an application is mailed other than by certified mail, or does not have a USPS postmark, the date received will serve as the application date. 

If more than one complete application is filed on the day in which the cumulative expected benefits for the year exceed the amount of funds available, the remaining available funds will be prorated among the applicants on that day.

Any application filed after November 1 will be treated as an application filed on the first business day of the following calendar year.

Part 1 - Application

Employees

Item 1

The number of people currently employed is a head count of individuals on the payroll of the microbusiness during the pay period that includes the date of application. Include all S corporation officers actively involved at the microbusiness in the head count, even if the owner/officer is not drawing a wage in the pay period including the application date.

Item 2

The number of FTE employees is computed by dividing the total hours paid in a year by the product of 40 times the number of weeks in a year. For example, if the number of hours paid in a year is 4000 and the year consisted of 52 weeks, the microbusiness would have 1.9 FTEs (4000/2080). As an initial test of the number of FTE employees, the Department will require documentation showing total hours paid during the pay period which includes the date of application. If an application is filed between November 1st and December 31st, it is deemed to be filed on the first business day of the following calendar year. The employment documentation must be provided for the pay period including the first business day of the following calendar year. The Department may request payroll records for additional periods prior to the application date based on the results of the initial test.

If the microbusiness is not yet operating at the time of application, the applicant will be required to show that at the time of application and during the first full pay period for which the business is fully operational, the business employs five or fewer employees. The Department may request payroll registers for additional pay periods.

The number of FTE employees does not equal the number of people actually employed in many cases.

Item 3

Any new applicant under the Act is required to use E-Verify, a federal electronic verification program, to ensure that Nebraska employees hired after the date of application are legally able to work in Nebraska. If the microbusiness currently does not have employees, and does not plan to have employees in the future, the applicant is not required to use E-Verify, and may skip Item 3 and go on to Item 4.

To receive compensation credits under this program, the applicant must provide evidence that the microbusiness has timely verified the work eligibility status of all Nebraska employees hired after the application date.

For Item 3(a)(i), print out the "Company Information" page from the E-Verify program and include it with your application as an attachment. An example of the "Company Information" page is shown below:

 

Base Year

Item 4

Provide a description of the microbusiness. Include a description of the types of activities the microbusiness is engaged in, including the types of products sold and the markets served during the base year. The planned expansion of the microbusiness will be described later in Items 8 and 9.

Item 5

State whether the microbusiness is a C corporation, S corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or sole proprietorship. State the entity type under which the income tax return for the microbusiness will be filed for the base year and the year of application, or indicate that the microbusiness's income will be included in the applicant's individual income tax return.

Item 6

Identify the beginning and ending dates for the microbusiness's tax year which includes the date of application. If this does not agree with the tax return submitted, provide an explanation.

Item 7

A change in the ownership of a microbusiness or a change in its entity type, does not create a new microbusiness for purposes of computing incentive credits. The investment and compensation of the microbusiness, regardless of the ownership or entity type, must be used in the calculation of the base year, the year of application, and the year after application.

Example 1.

  • The conversion from a sole proprietorship to an S corporation changes the employee status of the owner, but a comparable compensation figure must be recorded in the base year and each year used to calculate growth.

Example 2.

  • The acquisition of an ongoing business shall be treated as though the buyer owned the business during the base year and all periods up to the date of purchase. Refer to GIL 29-17-3.

    • The compensation and employer cost of health insurance paid by the previous owner of the acquired business must be included in the base year, and all periods up to the date of purchase.

    • The value assigned to assets acquired as part of the purchase of the ongoing business will not be included as new investment.

    • The microbusiness’s investment by the previous owner of the acquired business (including asset purchases, leases, repairs, advertising, legal, and professional services) must be included in the base year investment, and all periods up to the date of purchase.

The applicant must document the investment and compensation by providing substantiating records. The types of records that may be provided include copies of the following items:

  • The prior business’s federal income tax return(s), if available;

  • The Nebraska Reconciliation of Withholding, Form W-3N, with attached Federal Forms W-2. If the buyer is a successor, a copy of this document may be requested from the Department by completing the Nebraska Tax Return Copy Request, Form 23;

  • Other types of records that would normally be a part of a sale of a business, such as purchase documents, financial records, personnel records, and asset ledgers; and

  • Property tax filings from the county assessor.

The Department will only approve credits to the extent the applicant substantiates new investment or employment growth by producing evidence of the prior business's activity during the application period.

Expansion

Item 8

The narrative response to Item 8 should explain, in detail, the estimated figures provided in Table 13.The narrative must include an explanation of the expected increases in investment and compensation.

Item 9

To be eligible to reserve tax incentive credits, the applicant must demonstrate not only that that he or she will make new investment or employment in the microbusiness, but also that the new investment or employment will create new income or jobs in the area.

Personal Involvement

Items 10 and 11

The applicant must be actively engaged in the operation of the microbusiness. Active engagement requires personal involvement on a continuous basis in the daily management and operation of the microbusiness. Any individual for whom the microbusiness is considered a passive activity for federal income tax purposes is not actively engaged in the operation of the microbusiness. Explain the nature and significance of your involvement in the microbusiness. Specify the frequency of your involvement, including the number of hours per week you are engaged in the operation of the microbusiness.

Estimated Credit

Item 12

The applicant must provide information on any related person who has applied for tax incentive credits under the Act. The estimated microenterprise tax credits are subject to a lifetime limit of $10,000 for an applicant and any related persons.You may wish to consult with business partners and other related persons before you submit an application because confidentiality rules may prevent the Department from disclosing information about other taxpayers to you. If a related person has previously reserved credits under this program, the applicant may reserve credits in an amount equal to or less than the difference between $10,000 and the credits reserved by the related party. If the full amount of credits you request is not available due to the reservation of credits by a related person, the Department will issue a notice indicating the amount of credits that remain available to you. Due to confidentiality rules, the Department will not be able to disclose which related person or persons preciously reserved credits under the program. "Related persons" is defined in Neb. Rev. Stat. § 77-5903(7) to include:

  • A person considered to be related under either Internal Revenue Code § 267(b) and (c) or § 707(b); or

  • Any individual who is a spouse, parent, son, daughter, brother, or sister of the applicant.

Item 13 Estimated Expenditures and Microenterprise Tax Credits
Computation Table

To be eligible to reserve tentative tax incentive credits, the applicant must demonstrate that there will be new investment or employment in the microbusiness. The amounts in this table must be explained in the written response to item 8.

If a related person (see item 12) has also applied for tax incentive credits for the same microbusiness and for the same period, the base year figures and the estimated growth of the microbusiness must be split accordingly and reflected in the responses to Table 13. 

Example 3. Two equal partners apply and intend to equally share the microenterprise tax credits. In the base year, the microbusiness had $10,000 in investment, such as advertising. On each partner’s application, in Column A, $5,000 should be used as the base year's investment figure for advertising. 

Example 4. Two equal partners apply and intend to equally share the microenterprise tax credits. The microbusiness anticipates purchases of $50,000 in new depreciable assets in Year 1. Each partner should enter $25,000 in Column B reflecting his or her share of the microbusiness's estimated investment. This same process continues for Year 2 and for the other categories reflecting the investment and employment of the microbusiness.

Base Year. The base year is the year prior to the year of application. The base year investment and compensation activity must be established before incentive credits can be calculated for growth in the year of application, and the year following application. Column A of the table in Item 13 must reflect the investment and compensation activities of the business in the base year.

  • If an existing business is purchased in either the year prior to application, during the application year or the year following application, the base year information in Column A of Table 13 must reflect the total base year activities of the original business and the newly acquired business up to the date of acquisition. See GIL 29-17-3.

  • If the microbusiness is under new ownership due to the purchase of an existing business, a reorganization of an existing business, or due to the spin off of part of an existing business, the employment and investment of the business under the previously existing ownership or structure must be reported as base year investment and compensation in Column A if purchased during the base year.

Investment. New investment means the increase in the current year over the year prior to the application in the total of the following costs incurred by the microbusiness:

  • Original cost or the lease value of buildings and other depreciated assets;

  • Repairs to and maintenance for property in Nebraska;

  • Advertising; and

  • Legal and professional fees.

Legal and professional fees are fees paid to individuals, such as certified public accountants, professional engineers, and attorneys for services related to the activities of the microbusiness. The purchase, lease, or repair and maintenance expenditures related to vehicles that are required to be licensed by the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles cannot be included in investment calculations.

Net Lease Increase. The lease of a building or other depreciable property, excluding motor vehicles, may be included in the calculation of new investment. There is an increase in the value of leased property if the microbusiness has a new lease and there is an increase in the average net annual rent, even if it is not the first time the property has been leased. The increased investment is equal to the change in the annual lease costs multiplied by the term of the lease, not to exceed ten years. The lease is included as new investment in the year the control of the property is transferred to the microbusiness and the property is "placed in service," whether or not lease payments are due for the period during which control is transferred.

Use the following Lease Calculation Worksheet to determine the value of the net annual lease increase. Include the amount of the lease increase from the worksheet in either Column B or D of Item 13 of the application.

Lease Calculation Worksheet
A
B
C
D
E
F

Description of
Leased Property*

Annual Lease
Costs
(Old Lease)
Annual Lease
Costs
(New Lease)
Increase
(Col. C - Col. B)
Term of
New Lease (Years)
Net Lease
Increase
(Col. D X Col. E)
           
           
Total Net Lease Increase  
*The value for a lease with increasing annual rental payments is the average annual payments.
Example 5. The old lease for office space was an annual lease with $750/mo lease payments. A new lease for office space has a 60-month (5 year) term at $1,000/mo. Using the Lease Calculation Worksheet, the lease increase over the life of the new lease is $15,000 (see below).
Lease Calculation Worksheet (Example 5)
A
B
C
D
E
F
Description of
Leased Property*
Annual Lease
Costs
(Old Lease)
Annual Lease
Costs
(New Lease)
Increase
(Col. C - Col. B)

Term of
New Lease (Years)

Net Lease
Increase
(Col. D X Col. E)
Office Space
$ 9,000
$12,000
$ 3,000
5 yrs
$ 15,000
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total Net Lease Increase
$ 15,000
*The value for a lease with increasing annual rental payments is the average annual payments.

Compensation. New compensation means the increase in the total compensation (plus the employer cost for health insurance) for Nebraska resident employees in the current year as compared to the base year. New compensation does not include compensation paid to any employee with wages in excess of 150% of the Nebraska average weekly wage. The maximum wage level will be the same amount for all years in the application, and is determined by the year of application. See Revenue Ruling 29-17-3 for the current maximum wage level. Compensation and the employer's cost of health insurance for an employee hired after the date of application can be included in the computation for the year of application and the year after application only if the newly hired person's authorization to work was timely confirmed by using E-Verify.

Item 14

Copies of the most recent federal income tax return filed for the applicant and the microbusiness must be submitted with the application. At a minimum, the federal income tax returns should include copies of:

  • First five pages of the individual and business returns;

  • Consolidating schedules supporting the first five pages;

  • Affiliations Schedule, Form 851;

  • A copy of each Partner's or Shareholder’s Share of Income, Credits, Deductions, etc., Schedule K-1;

  • Profit or Loss from Business, Schedule C;

  • Profit or Loss from Farming, Schedule F; and

  • Depreciation and Amortization, Form 4562.  

If the microbusiness is a flow-through entity, list the individual owners, their ownership percentage, and their Social Security numbers.

Item 15

A microbusiness is a business with five or fewer FTE employees at the time of application. In the case of an application that is submitted before a business is fully operational, the applicant will be eligible to receive credits if the business employs five or fewer FTE employees during the first full pay period during which the the business is fully operational. In order to receive credits, the applicant must show that the business met the definition of a microbusiness during the first full pay period. A business is not fully operational during any period in which expenses incurred by the business or the applicant are properly classified as start-up expenditures as defined under I.R.C. § 195.

Example 6. An applicant applies on January 4, and the microbusiness has a weekly payroll
schedule. The payroll period, including January 4, cannot exceed 200 hours paid to employees (5 full-time equivalent employees x 40 hrs per week) in order to meet eligibility requirements for the Act.

Note: The FTE calculation looks at the number of hours in a year. If the Department has reason to believe that the hours worked during the payroll period are not representative of the year, it may request payroll records for additional periods.

Example 7. An applicant applies on January 4. The applicant plans to open a daycare in July of the same year. On the date of application, the business does not have any employees. During the first full pay period of operation, the daycare employs 10 FTE employees. The applicant does not meet the eligibility requirements under the Act because it never operated as a microbusiness.

The following documents will be required to confirm the number of FTE employees at the time of application:

  • A copy of the business's most recent filed Nebraska Reconciliation of Income Tax Withheld, Form W-3N.

  • A copy of the payroll register showing total hours paid to all hourly and salaried employees for the period that includes the date of application. This payroll register must be submitted within ten days of the close of the pay period.

    Note. The Department may request payroll registers for additional periods as part of the review of the application.

If the business currently does not have any employees, please indicate the date it expects to begin paying wages.

Item 16

Each microbusiness is required to be fully licensed according to the Nebraska licensing requirements listed on the Nebraska Tax Application, Form 20. Even if the microbusiness is not required to be licensed for sales tax, it must be licensed for use tax. Line 13 of the Form 20 relates to use tax.

The Form 20 can be submitted with your application.

Item 17

A net worth statement must be provided by any individual actively involved in a microbusiness that conducts farming or livestock operations.

The net worth statement must include holdings of the applicant, spouse, and dependents. The statement must be based on the fair market value of assets net of any related debt. Types of assets to report on the net worth statement include, but are not limited to: land; equipment; livestock; grain; inventory; cash; investments; homes; and motor vehicles.

The net worth statement must be signed and dated by the applicant and a lawyer, banker, loan officer, financial counselor, or accountant, who gives his/her title and states in writing that the information provided on the statement appears to be accurate. The net worth statement must reflect the value of the applicant’s holdings as of the date of application. The net worth statement must be provided within 10 days after the date of application.

Signature

Part 1 of the application must be signed by the applicant actively involved in the microbusiness or by another person authorized to sign for the applicant by a power of attorney on file with the Department. Attach a copy of a completed Power of Attorney, Form 33.The application must have an original signature, and will not be accepted if sent electronically.

Part 2 - Total Credits Reserved

The Department will confirm the total credits reserved for an applicant by completing Part 2.  A copy will be returned to the applicant.

Form 3800N - Worksheet M - Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act Claim Worksheet

To claim the credits, file a completed Nebraska Incentives Credit Computation, Form 3800N, and Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act Claim Worksheet, Form 3800N - Worksheet M, with the applicant's individual income tax return for the year of application and the year following application. Worksheet M is calculated with the actual increased investment and compensation, and must report accurate base year activity. You must provide a copy of the documents requested in Worksheet M to support your credit calculation.

Prior to approval of the Microenterprise Act tax incentive benefits, and during subsequent reviews of benefits claimed, the applicant must provide proof of timely employment verification. Examples of documents for the applicant to retain include, but are not limited to: 

  • E-Verify Case Verification Number;

  • Copies of the Case Details page which includes the Case Verification Number; and

  • The User Audit Report which provides general data on cases.

Microenterprise tax credits will not be granted on compensation to a newly hired employee of the microbusiness unless the E-Verify employment confirmation page shows that the employee is authorized to work and that the verification was completed timely.

The Worksheet M must have adequate documentation for the Department to determine the validity of the claim.  The following are the minimum requirements for documentation:

  • Enclose a detailed listing of the investment expenditures claimed on Worksheet M, Current Year Credit Computation Table, Column B, on a CD submitted with the individual income tax return or email an Excel file to rev.incentives@nebraska.gov referencing "Microenterprise" and the applicant's name in the subject line. The spreadsheet should include the following information:
Vendor Name
Invoice Date
Invoice Number
Item Description
Amount
Column B,
Line Number

  • Attach legible copies of all invoices supporting purchases of depreciable assets, repairs and maintenance, advertising, and legal and professional fees; arranged in the same order as they appear in the spreadsheet.

Related Persons Filing an Application for the Same Microbusiness. More than one person may apply for microenterprise tax credits for the same microbusiness for the same time period if each individual is actively engaged in the operation of the microbusiness. Each individual must file a separate application. The related individuals are subject to the $10,000 limitation (item 12). Benefits will not be granted twice for the same growth in investment or employment. The individuals must split the actual growth of the microbusiness and reflect the division on the Current Year Credit Computation Table. The individuals may agree to divide the actual growth of employment and investment in any way they choose. The Department is not a party to any agreement between related individuals. If the total credits requested for related persons exceeds the $10,000 lifetime limit, the credits will first be granted to the applicant whose application is received first. Any remaining credits will be applied to the other applications in the order they were received.

Example 8. Two partners apply for microenterprise tax credits. They agree, between themselves, to divide the credits equally. In Year 1, the microbusiness had $50,000 in actual purchases of depreciable assets. On each partner's application, on Worksheet M, the Current Year Credit Computation Table, Column B, line a, $25,000 should be used as the Year 1 depreciable asset purchases figure.

Year. The Worksheet M calculations are generally computed based on the tax year of the microbusiness. If the base year, year of application, or year after application is a short tax year for the microbusiness, contact the Department about using a twelve month period to ensure that comparable periods of time are used to determine whether the microbusiness has new employment or new investment within the purpose of the Act.

Electronic Filing. If you plan to electronically file your Form 1040N, all substantiating documentation listed on Worksheet M of your application may be filed as a PDF with your electronically filed return. If your software does not support filing PDFs with your return, you can still e-file the return by claiming the microenterprise credit as a refundable 3800N credit on the individual income tax return, Form 1040N. A computer generated alert will be sent to the mailing address on the individual's income tax return requesting the documentation supporting the microenterprise credit. The documentation should be attached to this alert letter and returned to the Department for processing. You may also file your Form 1040N on paper and attach all substantiating documentation listed on Worksheet M of your application to your return.

If you have any questions regarding the preparation of the application, contact Garrett Nedved at 402-471-5862 or garrett.nedved@nebraska.gov. If you have any questions regarding the preparation of the Worksheet M, contact Julie Burcham at 402-471-5827 or julie.burcham@nebraska.gov. The application should be sent to:

Nebraska Department of Revenue
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 98944
Lincoln, NE 68509-8944

If you have questions regarding how to properly file the Worksheet M and required documentation with your individual income tax return, contact Nebraska Taxpayer Assistance at 800-742-7474 (NE and IA) or 402-471-5729.


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