October 16th, 2008
12:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact check: Plumber Joe's taxes

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/16/art.joe.cnn.jpg caption="How would Obama's tax plan actually affect Joe's taxes."]McCain has entrepreneurs spooked about widespread tax hikes, but fewer than 2% of small-business owners would pay more under Obama's plan.

(CNNMoney.com) - In speech after speech, presidential candidate John McCain hammers on the claim that his rival Barack Obama will raise taxes on many small businesses.

At the debate on Wednesday night, McCain said, "The small businesses that we're talking about would receive an increase in their taxes right now."

More typically he has said: "What [Obama] hasn't told you is that he would tax half of the income of small businesses in America," a line used in La Crosse, Wisc., last week.

Should small business owners fear for their wallets if Obama is elected? Not the vast majority, business and tax experts say.

To make its claim, according to a McCain spokesman, the campaign counts as a small-business owner any taxpayer who files a Schedule C, E or F – the forms used to report gains and losses from business ventures and farms.

Using that definition and citing IRS data, the campaign notes that "56.8% of total small business income is earned by businesses in the top two rates, which Barack Obama has pledged to raise."

It's true that Obama has proposed raising taxes on the top two income rates.

But there are three main problems with McCain's charge.

Full story from CNNMoney.com

soundoff (517 Responses)
  1. Dealt, Portugal

    Apparently this Jow the plumber believes quite strongly in not redistributing some wealth. You knnow, governments don't make money... they have no business, they're not supposed to gamble wildly in the market... their revenues come from taxes. The system should be proportional, low enough not to suffocate people, distributed enough so that each pays some according to what they earn. that's how governments can spend money on roads, hospitals, schools, pay for emergency services, police, research, etc..

    Joe the Plumber probably enjoys some of those services. But then he plans to go on enjoying them and not cobntributing to them. He says "that's not the American dream". I always thought the american dream included making money, yes, but also making good. Apparently I was naive. Pity...

    October 16, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Sweetie

    2% is 2% too much!

    We do not need a Tax and Spend Administration at this time!


    October 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  3. Shari, NY

    OK, plumbers make “a mint” starting with the exorbitant amount they charge just to wink at your broken pipe. However, the “Joe the plumber” story which McCain and camp are now harping on needs to be flushed. Plumbers and professionals of similar ilk are not the only items on the agenda right now.

    October 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Kim, Charlotte, NC

    This was very helpful. McCain is such a liar.

    America, please wake up.

    October 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Toni

    Considering everything coming out about Joe, they should be fact-checking HIM.

    October 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Mark, Ohio

    Joe is so FAKE.

    He would NOT pay more taxes under Obama, because he does NOT make more than 250.000 right now !! (he just hopes that somewhen will happen)

    October 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. Abby

    McCain is confused between buying a business worth 250K and making 250k per year …totally different things and tax brackets. McCain has no grasp of simple economic concepts.

    October 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. CindyN--PA

    Hey Joe the Plumber!
    Are you even registered to vote??
    Is that why you wont tell the Press who you are voting for?

    October 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  9. Robin C.

    Okay, if I hear McCain tell us one more time that Palin has a good understanding of special needs children I think I am going to scream. She is just getting started with her special needs baby. She has no clue what it means to have a special needs child until she has to reach out to her community and educational system. Until she has to fight for her child's needs and rights first hand, she and McCain should not even put this in their political arena experience!

    October 16, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. Deb in Colo

    Bet Joe will make more that 250K now – with all this free advertising....

    October 16, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. TexicoFromMexico

    More McCain lies......and then he uses this loser as a plant. Nice.....this guy has been found out as a fraud already and does not even make over 250k....

    Veterans for Obama

    October 16, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Mark Louisiana

    another example of CNN being LIBERAL.
    and watch, I bet they won't publish this comment...business as usual for CNN and the LEFTISTS.

    October 16, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  13. Elizabeth in Texas

    This guy is a registered Republican and has a brother that lives in Wasilla, AK. GOP PLANT!

    October 16, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. ines

    Joe the Plumber is a Republican, donates Republican, a relative of Charles Keating, and McCains mamouth obscure specific-case distraction in last night's debate. A distraction so McCain could whittle down his time that he wouldn't have to talk about the economic issues that the ENTIRE country faces.

    October 16, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. Elizabeth

    McCain's mention of "Joe, the Plumber" immediately brought skepticism...If he is going to mention "Joe", be real. It's just another in the long line of statements & choices McCain makes that make truly no sense at all.

    October 16, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  16. Amber, VA

    My family owns a small business (restaurant) in Centreville, VA and we make nowhere near $250,000/year. If Joe the Plummer makes that kind of money, I'd say he is doing pretty well for himself and in my opinion he can afford to pay a little more tax so families like mine can get some more help to keep our heads above the water in these hard times. I also like the idea that Obama will give $3000 credit for every new employee that we hire- that is a big help for small business.

    October 16, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. Obama the Clown

    To have a presidential candidate say to a taxpayer in this country, 'spread the wealth' should horrify ever American. Welcome to socialist America, this is what we have to look forward to with Senator Government as president.

    October 16, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. A Woman In California For Obama:

    First of all, let me say as a TOTAL Obama supporter, I thought this was Obama's worst debate. However, he was brilliant in his response to Mr. Ayers. McCain was stopped in his tracks and could not even think of another question. Having said that-it does not mean I thought McCain did any better. He was so angry and bothered throughout the whole night. I can't understand why anyone would one him to represent us with world leaders with his bad temper and attitude. He looked like an angry bigot who was trying hard to contain himself. Did anyone else notice how Cindy finally reached out her hand to Michelle? I know it was hard. The Obama's could teach the McCain's a lot about etiquette.

    As to the present ticker: who cares about this guy? He WOULD NEVER vote for ANY man or woman of color anyway. This is such a non-issue. If he so proud of the USA-why isn't he over there dying in Iraq? Obviously, a coward who has wrapped himself up in a flag. So now we all should focus on some man from the back woods who is desperately trying to promote McCain? I didn't even watch his comments nor do I care.

    October 16, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  19. The American Dream is Alive and Well

    Once again, McCain is WRONG! Thanks for your investigating CNN 🙂

    October 16, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. U-N-I-Verse

    What's the matter CNN, don't like what I have to say about Republican tax philosophy? We'll see if you print this this time. It's certainly relevant to the topic here. Anyway, it seems like a lot of people have fallen for the great Republican lie: The claim that tax breaks for big business creates job, that if they have more wealth, it will rain down upon everyone else. Tax breaks for the wealthy DO NOT create jobs, because increased revenue does not create jobs. What's the incentive to hire someone just because you have more money in your pocket? That makes absolutely no sense. They aren't going to hire more people if there's no increase in customer's demand for their product, not matter how much of a tax break you give them. A demand for an increase in production is what creates jobs. If a company's profits increase, they don't reinvest it in more labor unless there's an increase in demand, they just keep the profits. And if there's an increase in demand, they'll hire more people either way because they have to in order to keep up with demand. That's why Republican policies lead to nothing more than increased income disparity and a rise in inflation. Demand comes mostly from the bottom up, which is why it makes more sense to give those tax breaks to consumers who then stimulate the economy by buying goods and services from those businesses.

    October 16, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. values


    October 16, 2008 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Mike the Plumber


    I am a plumber and have a little education. I have reviewed both McCain's and Obama's tax plan, and Obama's tax plan would help my business.

    A small business to me is someone making less than $300,000 a year. I have worked for 22 years and I don't make anywhere near $200,000 in a year. I have 2 guys that work for me and I pay them $70.00 a day to help me. I would be able to hire a few more people under Obama. Furthermore, McCain is a negative man. I like Obama's plan. Joe the Plumber stop all this crap. This guy is rich.

    October 16, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Operative for Johnny

    We all remember Jeff Gannon im sure.

    October 16, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. capnmike

    Here is a tid-bit of information y'all didn't know...this whole Joe the Plumber thing is a PHONY SET-UP by the Republicans!
    Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.

    October 16, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. Jeanette

    Joe the plumber has unpaid tax liens and is a registered Republican.
    The rumors that he's a McCain campaign plant must be investigated.

    October 16, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
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