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. yvonne**KENTUCKY

    THIS COUNTRY HAS ALWAYS RUN ON HIGHER TAXES FOR THOSE WHO HAVE HIGHER INCOMES. IT IS IDIOTIC TO THINK SOMEONE MAKING $20,000 SHOULD PAY THE SAME TAX AS SOMEONE WHO MAKES $70,000 OR MORE. ALSO CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY THE REPUBLICANS HAVE SUCH A PROBLEM WITH THE "WEALTH BEING SPREADED AROUND" AS OBAMA TOLD THAT JOE THE PLUMBER GUY.

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. canuck

    sign of things to come. anyone who questions BO will be attacked and discredited. he wants to buy the business and make $250k per year. he has dreams to be independant and employ other people by taking a risk. don't steal from him. why didn't the libs send their bush tax cuts back to the irs. walk the walk.

    the repub plant comment, hmmm. i guess all the haters in the mccain rallies are dem plants. give me a break you hacks!

    it will be a long time before I ever support a dem.

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Harry Wang

    Shawn Shaffer, aby, Anna: You need to read proposed policy and run numbers before spouting anti-Obama tax plan BS. Don't take anecdotal comments from your uncle Dan as the gospel. Do your research. Don't be a sheep.

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Every Wilson

    THE REPUBLICAN PLANT "JOE PLUMBER" DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A JOB, HE DOES NOT PAY TAXES, AND HE'S RELATED TO CHARLES KEATING! JOHN MCCAIN JUST CREATED ANOTHER SCANDAL FOR HIMSELF USING A NON-TAXPAYING CITIZEN!

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Truman

    Did anyone catch Joe's interview with Catie Couric. he said: "Obama tap danced around the question–like Sammy Davis Jr.–Hold on there Andy! John McCain knows the meaning of the last phrase.

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. White-African(born there) American Military BRAT

    IF Small Businesses are DOING SO GREAT......HOW COME THEY HAVE TO KEEP BORROWING MONEY TO PAY PAYROLLS??????

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Sarah So NJ

    SCARY Casper the Ghost

    talking about taxes

    and can't calculate taxes

    don't want HIM calling shots on

    new tax regime

    and that ditzy running mate!

    ANYbody could get buy off $$ from the oil companies

    for priviledge of getting rich off Alaska protected resources

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Bigbubba

    I watched the debate last night. I watched McCain getting angrier as Obama hit him to tell the truth. Then the moderator asked about the negative ads. And a few moments later McCain was off on a personal attack on Obama. Not stating his views or his programs, just pointing out that he thinks Obama is bad.

    I have a two year old grandson who is a little like McCain at this stage in his little life. If my grandson has a problem with anyone he points at the and yells, "Bad man. Bad Man" over and over. Unlike McCain I expect my grandson will outgrow this childish habit.

    By the way, years ago I worked as a bouncer in a Texas bar. When I would see someone making faces like McCain did last night, I would make a special effort to keep an eye on them. They were usually the unstable sorts who would start fights.

    October 16, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Tommy

    Joe The Plumber was a planted at Obama's rally by McCain!!!! $250K as a plumber...Please!!!

    October 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. vicky

    Did anyone notice McCain had red lips? This would be called stage makeup. Maybe a little tan would have helped. Just the shade Cindy uses.

    October 16, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  11. Mike Dallas

    It now appears that "Joe the Plumber" is neither a licensed plumber or registered to vote!

    October 16, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. Wow

    What is this? McCain's answer to Willy Horton?

    Look- the claims just don't hold water. You are not taxed on revenue, you are taxed on profit. If Joe was smart- the business would own his house, his cars, etc... That is what almost every small business owner I know does. They put it all in the business's name. Then, they put themselves on the payroll and take out a super small salary- just enough for spending cash- because all their big expenses are paid for by the business. They end up hardly getting taxed at all.

    Joe doesn't need a tax break- he needs an accountant to show him the ropes.

    October 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Scott Tucson

    PS to Obama and Biden and their attack dogs...Joe the plumber is not running for president. Just thought you should know. But the plumber seems to have a better understanding of what is at state with rising taxes than the dems do.

    October 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  14. White-African(born there) American Military BRAT

    And what's with the 'Obamabot' name calling?

    YOU IDIOT REPUBLICANS THAT ARE SAILING ON THE SHIP OF FOOLS.

    October 16, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  15. sandee in Portland

    All of these comments are so funny. If anyone took the time to read the link provided in the article above, they would see that this is a moot point and not all that important. My daughter and son-in-law qualify as a small business because he's a music teacher who gives lessons on the side as well as playing in local gigs around town, so he files a Schedule C which, under what McCain is saying, makes him a small business. I'm a realtor who also files a Schedule C and that makes me also a small business. Neither one of us would pay any more taxes under Obama's plan than we do now. So, again, McCain's lying to the general public. Will he ever tell us the truth? Don't think so. He couldn't get elected if he did.

    October 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. 58 white old ladies for OBAMA

    MCGREEDY HAS VOTED FOR THE LARGEST

    INCREASE IN TAX DOLLARS IN THE HISTORY OF

    THIS NATION. THEY DIDN'T INCREASE OUR

    TAXES. THEY JUST BORROWED THE MONEY

    AND WE NOT ONLY HAVE TO REPAY IT, BUT WE

    HAVE TO PAY INTEREST ON IT. MCLIER CALLS

    THE DEMOCRATS TAX & SPEND. HE & BUSH

    ARE SPENDING $10 BILLION OR MORE PER MONTH,

    ON THE IRAQ WAR ALONE. DON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN.

    October 16, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Joe The Plumbed

    To those who are saying they don't want to pay the government but want to spread the wealth themselves: Who will build the roads and bridges we all are using? Who will run the public transportation system for us? Who will run the schools for our kids? Who will protect our lives and families and defend us from aggression? And HOW?

    October 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. SoCal

    I think Jimi Hendrix wrote a song about Joe the Plumber many years ago... huh?

    Hey Joe,
    where are you going with that... PIPE in your hand?

    October 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Jimmy

    Its amazing that everybody is talking about taxes..

    Yes I love to get a tax cut... but what did we loose in return

    1) The current GOP increased national debt by 5 Trillion ...
    2) Health Care costs more than doubled in last 8 years
    3) We are waging 2 unending and costly wars
    4) from budget surplus to defecit
    5) American schools trailing back
    6) Soaring trade deficits
    7) Medical and scientific research move to Europe and Asia ( stem cells etc)
    8) Job losses
    9) biggest financial meltdown in our lifetimes( I lost atleast 10 times more in stocks than the tax cuts I got)
    10) America is no longer viewed as a leader in the world
    11) bunch of Liars are ruling the country now( Dick Chaney, Rumsfeld, Tom delay, Scooter Libby, Mark Foley ....)
    12) 88 cents = 1 euro when McBush took power... not its 1:35 cents...
    13) the list goes on and on and on

    Bottom line.... I dont believe that there will be significant tax increases... but even those small increases will eventually pay due to wage increases and better society and less national debt

    October 16, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Amy

    Here is something y'all didn't know:
    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.

    This whole Joe the Plumber thing was a PHONY SET-UP!

    October 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Vonnie

    It's about time Obama starts telling out of his own mouth just exactly what is plans and purposals really mean to us if he is elected. Too much of his generic ideas have deep hidden meaning. When he told joe the plumber that he would spread the wealth to a small businessman who may make $250,000, that tells all Americans you can have a dream of your own business but when that business starts making the magic number of $250,000, With Obama as president, he would tax it–how else does he mean he would spread it around?? What happened to the idea as Americans we can dream and everyone has the same opportunites for those dreams to come true? Where in that dream did it ever say, there would or should be restrctions how big you can dream? Many peoples dream is to become very rich-richer than making $250-000-If Obama's lame economic ideas about spreading the wealth go into effect all small businesses that would make $250,000 would never grow beyond this point. Infact, they may fold if the owners have to lay off or let go employees to avoid huge taxes which are really penalties for gowing too big in Obama' warped viewpoint....and by the way, Obama admits that he makes over $250.00..I haven't heard him voluteering he would give up andy of his money and give it to the poor like he loves to preach in his rallies. Most of his ideas other than tax and spend are designed around growing government. They are definitely socialist ideas. Remember the whole "big brother is watching us?? Well, if Obama is elected, he's back.

    October 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Joe The Plumbed

    CONFUSED, I believe it is the "taxable income", which is net.

    October 16, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Jay, Dallas

    Joe, how much "gas tax" are you paying under Republicans?

    October 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. McWho??

    nobody likes to pay taxes but it's a necessary evil to perform a necessary good. It is imperative that the burden be exerted as evenly as possible. When Bush implemented the tax cuts for the wealthy it was supposed to stimulate employment and growth it didn't have that effect. McCain is wrong on every issue and he attempts to blindside Americans who aren't really paying attention.

    October 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. Greg M.

    President Obama and V.P. Biden the Baton Rouge,La. supporters and supporters around the world for Obama are eagerly awaiting the victory of positive change. We (my family and I) along with the supporters from around the world can't wait for Nov.4.2008 to get here. The Baton Rouge supporters for Obama/Biden would like to invite / welcome you and your family to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Please don't worry about the lies, your supporters in Baton Rouge and around the world have your back.

    Obama / Biden 08'............................................

    October 16, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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