SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers should end a program that has awarded $780 million in tax credits to companies including General Motors and Snapchat because it creates an "uneven playing field" and its overall economic benefits are hard to determine, according to a report released Tuesday.

The review by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office examined the California Competes tax credit program, launched in 2013 with the goal of encouraging companies to expand or relocate in California. It's awarded up to $780 million in possible income tax credits to more than 700 companies.

The awards are as low as $20,000 to create five new jobs to $15 million to create more than 4,000 jobs, the amount given to Tesla Motors in 2015.

About 15 percent of the money awarded goes to companies that only do business in the state and compete for a finite number of customers, such as plumbers or accountants, according to the review. If one company gets a tax credit to expand, its competitor could be forced to shrink, analysts said.

For those that do business outside California, such as manufacturers, the program doesn't focus enough on awarding credits to companies that didn't already plan on expanding in the state, the report said.

The Legislative Analyst's Office recommended lawmakers scrap the program next year. It suggests lawmakers who want to provide tax relief look at broad-based cuts instead, such as lowering the corporate tax rate.

--Associated Press

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