The data said 37 cents of every dollar in the state budget goes toward incentive programs, totaling $1.57 billion each year.
Of that, $1.23 billion went toward sales tax refunds, exemptions and discounts; $80.7 million went to state corporate income tax credits, rebates or reductions; and $52.7 million was given through grants, loans or loan guarantees.
The state advertising industry benefited the most, according to Times' data, by receiving $25.8 million in incentives. Agriculture came in second at $24.4 million, and manufacturing was third at $9.5 million.
The single largest tax incentive in the Times data was a $1.17 billion annual sales tax exemption for manufacturers and other firms to purchase equipment and goods used in their production or other business activities.
Officials at the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, a liberal-leaning, nonprofit think tank, have long said the state gives out too many breaks to businesses without evaluating whether those tax breaks actually work.
"The state cannot answer basic questions about the millions it spends each year subsidizing businesses, such as the amount local governments provide in property tax abatements to how much machinery and equipment the state leases each year," said Ted Boettner, the center's executive director.
Boettner appeared before a legislative committee earlier this year asking lawmakers to push for more transparency and accountability in the state's tax credit programs.
At the time, many lawmakers agreed and complained they didn't know how much was given out annually.
Boettner said Friday that lawmakers should follow the New York Times' lead and create a statewide searchable database for business subsidies.
"Our state policymakers have the power to fairly evaluate business tax incentives and to ensure that taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment," he said. "With this basic information, the state and the public would at least be able to see where their tax money is going."
Prezioso said he has already talked to state tax and commerce officials about the Times report, which was generated by compiling tax information from a variety of sources, including reports that have been submitted to the Legislature or published online.
State officials told Prezioso they were still looking over the Times' data but had concerns some of the figures might not be current or have been taken out of context.
"I don't believe it's totally correct," Prezioso said. "But I also believe that there's a lot of room for gathering data to help us make better decisions too."
State Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and Workforce West Virginia executive director Russell Fry will be appearing before a joint meeting of the Legislature's Joint Commission on Economic Development and Joint Committee on Finance to respond to the report and discuss ways to boost transparency and accountability with tax credits.
Prezioso said he hopes the Legislature will be able to set up some type of evaluation tool for tax programs during the next legislative session that will help them produce better analyses of the programs.
"You just can't hear one side of the story all the time where the business community comes in and says we need more tax relief," he said.
"I'm not saying we should take away any of those tax incentives," he said. "I just think as a Legislature we need to have a better understanding of what they are so we can make better decisions."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at jared.h...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5148.