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South Carolina has 99 problems  – and its income tax is definitely one of them.

If we weren’t required to pay state income tax, South Carolina would still run just fine (better actually), our lawmakers would still have jobs (whether they deserve them or not), and life would go on very much as we know it.

One thing would be very different, though: We would have more money in our pockets (cue the collective sarcastic gasp).  Go ahead and calculate the dollar amount of seven percent of your income.  Now, consider what you could do with that money.  Would you take one step closer to your dream home?  Retire with less stress?  Chase the dream of entrepreneurship?  Or would you strive to provide a better home for your family – knowing you would be able to put a few more meals on the table?

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what you need.  You know what you need, it’s not up to anyone to judge it, and it’s certainly not the state government’s place to take that money and spend it on non-essential programs and services.

This is why the income tax is so devastating: It takes productive uses of capital – which enrich lives and expand prosperity – and replaces those with unnecessary and wasteful spending.

More often than not these days, it seems most of South Carolina’s lawmakers are knee-deep in cronyism and other corrupt schemes that they have lost sight of the people they represent.  Not so in North Carolina, where lawmakers have superbly outdone their Palmetto State counterparts on the tax front.  Make no mistake South Carolina will suffer as a result: With individuals and businesses choosing our northern neighbor for the simple reason that doing so means they get to keep more of their money.

This will exacerbate our state’s epidemic of crony capitalism – forcing our leaders to pay even bigger bribes to select companies in an effort to lure them to our state.  And that means taxes will stay high for the rest of us.

Let me make another point in regard to this issue:  A revenue neutral tax plan is not what we need.  Taxes which are cut do not need to be replaced with other taxes.  Let’s all keep in mind the amount of money our state and federal governments rake in – yet somehow despite this largesse they still can’t seem to manage.  Our politicians have failed us tremendously and have shown how utterly untrustworthy they are with our money.  It’s past time to take it back – and the thought of giving 23 percent to Washington differently than I already do is disgusting (and by the way the so-called “Fair” Tax really takes 30 percent – I think they were hoping we wouldn’t notice).

What can you do about this?  Not much, thanks to our absence of ballot initiatives.  You can, however, bombard your representatives with your thoughts on the issue (confession: I write to my representatives about things that matter to me all the time).

An especially good idea would be to contact them and let them know you agree (assuming you do) with the bill introduced recently by Senator Katrina Shealy – which would eliminate our income tax over the next five years.  Getting rid of the state income tax – which accounted for a mere 12 percent of the state’s revenue in 2012 – will force our representatives to cut some of the outlandish, unnecessary spending that ultimately lines their own pockets.

The bottom line is our lawmakers are elected to represent us – something they have either become ignorant of (not likely) or are deliberately selling us out on in an effort to pad their own pockets (very likely).

Something has to give in order for our state to succeed, and a good first step would be enacting Shealy’s income tax relief legislation.

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Alex Thornton is a Libertarian who resides in Charleston, S.C. She’s a wife who takes pictures for a living, runs to relax and loves God, her husband and fighting to make the Palmetto State more competitive.