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. Eliot from Chicago, Illinois

    With a good accountant, he wouldn't pay very much in taxes at all.

    October 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |

    Hey Plumberboy maybe you should get a new job....Like a crap
    salesman !!! Sounds like you have a mouth full of samples !!!

    October 16, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. Dee

    Turns out that "Joe the plumber" isn't quite what McCain is making him out to be:

    Here are the goods on Joe the Plumber and further proof McCain is a lunatic:

    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.

    You can google this with Keating 5 Wurzelbacher.

    And Joe not only doesn't even have a plumbing license, but he's had liens placed against him for non-payment of his taxes.

    I hope the media crawls all over this! Great way to bring up the Keating 5 again.

    October 16, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  4. This clears it up

    Sammy Joe the Plumber has an issue with paying taxes PERIOD. Forget about possibly higher taxes.
    I guess the fact that he'd be better off under Obama is irrelevant anyways - he doesn't want to pay for taxes period. I see where Sammy Joe is coming from: no government at all.
    Sounds like he's ready to join up with Palin's AIP.

    I LOVE IT WHEN A REPUB STUNT BACKFIRES. Once again this is a huge hit on the unintentional comedy scale.
    McCain/Phailin: SNL's best friends!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Gail

    Even the Bible tells us not to put new wine in old skins, so with this election. Our country is too raw from all of the woes right now, we don't need a washed up viet nam vet we need new ideas . I just feel sorry for John McCain, he needs to go home quietly with his wife, and reestabish a relationship there, because it is clear there is none. And as for Palin, she needs to go someplace and sit down. I expect her to say she wants"world peace" at any turn. Joe the plummer needs to register to vote, and then actually vote.

    October 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. Tim

    The reason Obama and Biden now don't like Joe the plumber, who makes well under $250,000 per year, is because he made the comment that it is not right to tax someone who makes more money a higher percentage. Why should someone work harder than others and then have to pay more taxes.

    It's a question the Democrats don't want to talk about. Biden thinks it's patriotic. So by there standards, those who carry the burden of the load as far as productivity goes, should also carry the burden of the tax load. Those who loaf, get a free loaf.

    October 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  7. ANGIE


    October 16, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Conservatives posting here are going on and on about "socialism" but in the decade of America's greatest fear of the rise of socialism here–the age of McCarthy, the 1950's, guess what the top tax rate was. It wasn't 33% or 36%, it was 90%!

    If it wasn't socialism then, it isn't socialism now.

    October 16, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. WhenPigsFly

    'joe the plumber' ..... a real gem mccain! NOT

    from the toledoblade.com

    "Joe the Plumber" isn’t a plumber — at least not a licensed one, or a registered one. A check of state and local licensing agencies in Ohio and Michigan shows no plumbing licenses under Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher’s name, or even misspellings of his name. Mr. Wurzelbacher told reporters Thursday morning that he worked for Newell Plumbing & Heating Co., a small local firm whose business addresses flow back to several residential homes, including one on Talmadge Road in Ottawa Hills.

    According to Lucas County Building Inspection records, A. W. Newell Corp. does maintain a state plumbing license, and one with the City of Toledo, but would not be allowed to work in Lucas County outside of Toledo without a county license. Mr. Wurzelbacher said he works under Al Newell’s license, but according to Ohio building regulations, he must maintain his own license to do plumbing work. He is also not registered to operate as a plumber in Ohio, which means he’s not a plumber. Mr. Wurzelbacher said he was hired by Mr. Newell six years ago and that the possibility of him eventually buying the company was discussed during his job interview. He said it’s his understanding he can work under Mr. Newell’s license as long as the licensed contractor works on the same site. Mr. Wurzelbacher said he is working on taking the Ohio plumbing contractors’ license test.

    Court records from a divorce show Mr. Wurzelbacher made $40,000 in 2006. In December, 2007, the Ohio Department of Taxation placed a lien against him because $1,183 in personal property taxes had not been paid, but there has been no action in the case since it was filed.

    October 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. voting 4 that one!


    October 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Josecanyousee

    Did I just hear that Joe the Plumber is related to Keating? Should have known there was a "stinker" in the plumbing!

    October 16, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. mitch

    hes not a plumber? hes related to charles keating? hes not even registered to vote? hes a republican plant?

    October 16, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Brian

    Looks like McCain understands the economy and taxes even less than we originally thought. How unfortunate for him.

    Obama is not going to punish small businesses. In fact, if you take into account the money he will give back to them for hiring American workers, odds are most small businesses, who don't outsource their jobs, will see either no net increase in taxes or a reduction in the amount of money they pay. They might hit a higher tax bracket if they make a lot of money, but once they deduct the money from all of their new hires, they'll end up breaking even or even making more money.

    McCain just doesn't get the economy. He doesn't get taxes. How has he survived in the Senate for so many decades?

    October 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. george jagodnik

    I saw the interview with Joe this morning, and he nullified his view by saying that he didn't believe in Social Security. My mother would not be able to survive without her small portion, and I would have to take of her which I can't afford to. Next, I have been in construction for 40 years, and he could certainly make his only company, not buy one and he will still not make $250,000 a year. I have worked very hard my entire life and built many houses. My companies best year was recent and my salary which I took from the company was only $100,000 and the company made $150,000 which better be kept in a safe place for hard times. (Which is now) Joe is of the republican base whose mind was already made up. I am an Independant who made up his mind this morning after watching Joe. I will vote for Obama.

    October 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Obama/Biden '08

    Ken and all you other Bushains who think McCain/Palin are the best thing since sliced bread need to pull your heads out of the sand. Look at where the country has been going the past 8 years and then ask yourself, "do i feel lucky"? If you want to keep heading in the wrong direction and watch the economy spiral out of control, please feel free to vote for 4 more years of the same with the mavericky maverick McCain/Palin. If you want to see the country turn itself around and get back on track with the economy, please vote for Obama/Biden. Even if you choose to vote for the maverick, it won't matter as McCain/Palin are done since everyone knows Republicans don't know how to balance the budget. How else would you explain the deficit now compared to the surplus we had when Bush took over in 2000? As for the possibility of Palin taking over as President, I think we all know what would happen then. Remember that when you go to vote in November and vote Obama/Biden instead!

    October 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Tim

    I think those who do not work hard should be taxed extra, because they are not carrying their fare share of the load. If we tax them extra, it will incent them to work harder to bring down their tax burden. And if they don't like it, maybe they will leave the country, as they promised to do if Bush got re-elected.

    October 16, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Lois in Florida

    When will the media stop worrying about Joe the so-called plumber? We have 2 wars, an economy in freefall, unemployment going up, and we are obsessed with what this one guy thinks? Big shock to come – he is a McCain supporter. Great – can we move on now?

    And why not one question re immigration last night? Or should CNN ask Joe instead? Is Joe now running? Maybe he can switch spots with Palin (really, not so far-fetched). Please, let's move on. Enough with Joe and these silly distractions.

    October 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. The Bluest Sky = Seattle

    McWar/McPutin typo I mean McPhailling will be planning a get away to that Island off Alaska to view what McPhailling sees all the time as " Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United State Of America .:"
    What does Phailling drink in Alaska?

    If thats true some Cuiseline will be selling tickets for that view.

    October 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Steve in CA

    I love it when you can read the facts and see that McCain will twist things to make his case ... often times still having to lie. Such is the case here where he claims the 50% of small business's will pay higher taxes under Obama's plan. People, get the facts straigt! Don't listen to McLame ... he lies and twists the truth. Get the FACTS and be educated!

    October 16, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. Steve Brogan

    When I first heard about this I knew it didnt sound right. Like someone else said, this guy is counting his chickens before they hatch. Someone could say I am writing a book and going to make a million and you are going to overtax me Obama. Maybe its just I know a guy who says he is a plumber and he has a big political agenda he carries around is always trying to make bogus political points on arcane subjects.

    October 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Zagazaw

    It take money to run the country, that money got to come from somewhre. Uderder the repub, America is faceing her wrost economical crisist in over 70yrs, and $53,trillion in debt.

    October 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Wow

    aby said "Our ancestors fled Britian because of government tax policy like this. "

    1. Not all of our ancestors are from Britain. This is a point that is hurting your party a lot. You need to get past your WASP-centric view. In a few decades, non-whites will outnumber whites in America. This can be a problem or an opportunity- your choice. If you keep up the culture wars, your party will go the way of the Whigs.

    2. The American Revolution was fought because Britain continued to tax the colonists without giving them representation in parliament. The whole thing could have been avoided by giving the colonists MPs who could vote against the targeted taxes being levied against the colonies. All they wanted was the representation enjoyed by those in Britain. This is what "No Taxation Without Representation" meant.

    3. 250,000 is a lot of money in Toledo. You can live pretty fat on half that there.

    October 16, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. SoCal

    According to the "Toledo Blade", this guy is not even a plumber: he doesn't have a license or plumber registration!

    So even calling him "Joe The Plumber" appears to be inappropriate.

    October 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Jeff Clackamas Oregon

    Say Joe. stuff runs down hill, pay day is on Friday and do- not bite your finger nailes. This guy is a fake just like the republicans fake white house news reporter Jeff Gannon how quick we forget.

    October 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. David, Tampa, Fl

    Isn't this the same kind of stunt that "Swift Boated" John Kerry in the 04 election. A bought and paid for liar, bought and paid for by one of McCain's former POW buddies and extreme right wing nut job, comes out of the wood work. If Joe has no plumbing licence, he aint a plumber. Plumbers dont make 250K a year but perhaps the owner of a plumbing company might. This whole thing stinks and is the kind of crap synonimous with Karl Rove. I dont particularly like either McCain or Obama and wish there were other people running in their stead but that's the folks we must choose between, not to exclude third party canidates. I think as long as we have control by two parties canstantly at war with each other the big Losers in all this is the American people.

    October 16, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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