Do you earn an annual income of $14,400 or more?

If you do, like most of us who work here, you pay the state of South Carolina seven percent on every dollar over that amount.

Let me repeat that. For every dollar more than $14,400 you earn, seven cents of that amount goes to Columbia in the government's general fund. We get taxed on what we earn more than places like Ohio, Maryland and even Massachusetts!

While there has been good job growth, thanks to the leadership of Gov. Nikki Haley, we could be doing even better. The primary culprit is the state income tax. That's why Gov. Haley and other forward-thinking leaders want to eliminate it - they know South Carolinians can have a better life if we tax them less.

We currently own the dubious distinction of having the highest top marginal tax rate in the entire Southeastern United States. Florida doesn't even have an income tax, Georgia taxes less and North Carolina recently passed major tax reform that lowered their rate.

Job creators looking to start a new business, or relocate an already successful one, will eventually avoid South Carolina.

Every day we compete against other states for job creation, especially those in our region. Our income tax will scare away entrepreneurs, and the jobs they create, if we don't pass common-sense reform soon.

A recent study by the nonpartisan American Legislative Exchange Council found that states with no personal income tax created jobs at a level 16 times greater than states with higher income tax rates.

Because of accelerated economic growth, the same study also found that states with no income tax actually generate more revenue than higher taxed states.

The state income tax hurts working families and penalizes you for working hard. Not only are we home to the highest tax rate in the Southeast, according to a study by the nonpartisan Civitas Institute, we also have one of the lowest amounts of take-home pay in the region.

The average worker in Tennessee, a Southern state without a personal income tax, gets to keep $5.40 more for every $100 he earns compared to his counterpart in the Palmetto State. For someone earning $30,000 in South Carolina, they would be making $31,620 in Tennessee.

Imagine the freedom you would have with that extra earning power.

Maybe it means you can put away more money for a child's college education. Maybe you can pay off that last student loan bill or car payment in full. Or maybe it's new clothes and technology for the kids as they prepare for the upcoming school year. The possibilities are endless.

Without the state income tax you get to keep more of your hard-earned money and make life better for you and your family.

This issue is not Republican versus Democrat, poor versus rich, or even left versus right. This issue is about the happiness and well-being of you and your family.

Finally, I pose this question:

Who knows how to spend your money best, you or the government?

I believe you do, and by eliminating this penalizing tax our state will be a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Dave Schwartz, a resident of Mount Pleasant, is the South Carolina state director of Americans for Prosperity. He can be reached at www.AFPSouthCarolina.com.