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. sara J

    JOE THE PLUMBER...YOU ARE SELFISH AND U CLEARLY DON'T UNDERSNTAND THE CURRENT TAX SYSTEM. incase you didn't know currently we are on a graded system too. rich people pay more. Under Obama they will pay 3% more. IT'S FUNNY HOW U DON'T TALK ABOUT THE TAX CUT U WILL GET UNDER OBAMA NOW BUT INSTEAD U CHOSE TO TALK ABOUT THE POSSIBLE INCREASE IN UR PAY AND THE POSSIBLE TAX HIKE...hmm i wonder why u so badly don't want that cut right now instead of the possible hike in the future..

    October 16, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. Cathy

    I believe this Joe the Plumber guy was sent by McNasty to ask Obama that question. This guy does not even have a plumber's license, so I do not think that he will be buying the business anytime soon.

    McNasty and Ms. Clueless will go to any length to try to win this election. Let's show them that we will not be fooled.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 16, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Mechanic

    I am a diesel mechanic...........I cant imagine any plumber making a quarter million a year......I don;t know many "small business owners who earn that much.........this was a complete out of the blue set-up.....He (joe) is LYING.

    October 16, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Greg in Mpls

    People aren't getting this are they? It's a stunt! McCain found someone to push the attention of the media onto so they wouldn't be talking about how Obama did.

    Same thing with Palin! "Hey look over here! Nothing to see in the Obama camp! Looky looky looky!"

    And everyone is falling for it hook, line and sinker.

    Stop watching the stunts and pay attention to the issues people!!!

    October 16, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Q

    Why do we have a section for Joe the plumber,.....really WHY!!!!!!!!!?????!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. andrea

    I guess Felicia's uncle can't defend Himself ! shes feels the need to do it for him! or maybe he doesn't feel that way and shes lieing . be nice to hear from him! since its his buisnes..

    October 16, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Subtleone

    JS October 16th, 2008 1:30 pm ET

    Obama makes me nervous, until McCain starts talking.
    Maybe that's because you have no clue what he's talking about.

    McCain pretty much screwed Joe the plumber by bringing his name up because he says he wants to buy a plumbing company, but Obama's plan scares him off. Well, maybe if Joe were smarter, he would not have announced that he has no license, and doesn't have to have one because he works for the business he's trying to buy.

    Not only does he have to have proper licensing for his business, but he's notsupposed to be plumbing anything unless he has taken an exam , and or has his plumber's license. Joe, Obama didn't call this oversight out for you, you and MCCain did.

    October 16, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. hannah

    CNN needs to check out the relationship between Joe the Plumber who is friends of a family in New York who has connections with Charles Keating, a Keating family member. Does KEATING ring a bell?? Certainly!! That's one of John McCain's BIGGEST NIGHTMARES!!

    October 16, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. Kim

    People have you lost your minds. This man stated and opinion and challenged Obama on his plan, he is an American citizen with the freedom of speech and now the Obama Thugs with the help of the media is delving into his background and digging up dirt on him because he simply stated his opinion. Is this what you want for the next 4-8 years an administration that belittles and bullies the citizens of this country an Administration that tries to destroy you if you do not agree with them, an administration that calls your racist if you do not agree with their policies? are we in CUBA or Russia or is this the United States of America, do you people have no sense? this is what you are willing to do to our country? Unbelievable!!

    October 16, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. RA

    McCain or Obama as president will have to raise taxes to bridge the federal budgetary gap, no matter what they are saying now. The only difference is Obama is being honest and realistic about it. McCain a self professed novice to economic and public policy is in denial and just waffling around with some catchy idea that is not working. I am a businessman and things are bad and don't look good in the near future. WE NEED A STRONG AND INTELLIGENT LEADER THAT WILL BRING IN TECHNOCRATS TO RUN THIS COUNTRY. THE CHOICE IS OBVIOUS. OBAMA.

    October 16, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. Nik


    October 16, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  12. wendydk

    I wonder how Republicans think we can get this huge deficit under control without additional tax revenues? As a small business owner, I can tell you that you can cut until you're blue in the face and not make up that kind of money, especially with the war costing additional billions each month.

    Remember people....Freedom is not Free. You're willing to offer up the lives of your sons and daughters but not willing to accept a 3% tax increase if you make over $250K per year?

    How about Republicans can pay for the Iraq debacle and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations (since I don't believe in them), and Dems will pay for programs that better our society (as Republicans don't want to), and we will see who pays more, and who does the most good for our country and society, for children and education.

    October 16, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Joshua College Station Texas

    Wow the CNNMoney.com article is very informative. It turns out the truth is that 98.6% of "small" business owners won't get taxed, and those who do only get a tax increase will see it only for the portion of their income that falls into the higher bracket. Once again, it shows that McCain is using false claims to incite fear. To paraphrase Hillary, 'Shame on you John McCain, shame on you!'

    October 16, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. Nick

    Ken, Obama is going to pay for the promises he's made by not giving tax credits ( Mc Cains is looking to give) to corporations that make billions already. Mc Cain is going end up cutting all good programms for the sake of even more tax benefits to wealthy

    October 16, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Uncle Sam

    A recent Gallup Poll has Obama's lead down to two percentage points. Perhaps the reports of McCain's demise have been premature.

    You know how the old man has a way of coming back from the dead.


    October 16, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Bobby

    Thanks to joe the plumber the polls are getting tighter this morning!

    October 16, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. Gregg

    Joe the Plumber is full of it! Very Very few plumbers make 250 grand a year. Anyway he should take some of that 250 and get him some rogain for that cone head......................of course he could be making that money if he was working for kbr (tricky dick cheney's former company) overseas in Iraq. Another interesting point is to be concerned about Black Water who has lots to lose if Obama is elected. The religious right military group who has a private military who could cause many problems for this country. Think about it...........

    October 16, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  18. Garnet, Corning

    We are just two retirees who can now sit here and warch all of this on TV. And you know what we said LAST NIGHT? He (Joe) sounds as if he were a republican plant. Well guess what? Is he?

    October 16, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. therealist

    Don't worry Joe.., at this rate, you'll soon be sending all your earning to Obama, that way Obama can send back only what he thinks you need.

    October 16, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. Tony



    October 16, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Paul

    Mr McCain wants to expand the same failed Bush policies

    He certainly served our nation with honor during war, but nowadays, when it comes to do the right things for our people, he is simply wrong.

    Now, it is our time to make a difference, it is our chance to improve our lives

    Let us vote for

    Obama-Biden 08
    Yes they will!!!

    October 16, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  22. SocialistSally

    No one in America should make more than $250,000..., except for celebrities and politicians of course.

    October 16, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. teri

    I guess Joe the plummer wasn't vetted very good by the McCain campaign. According to Politico this man doesn't come close to making 250,000 therefore he would get a tax break under Obamas plan. he also owes local taxes and does not have a plummers license. In fact he will probably get in trouble now because he hasn't even started any apprenticeship program to be a plummer, but yet he has been working as one.

    October 16, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  24. Joseph, Los Angeles

    This guy in my opinion was a republican plant from the get-go. No credibility to this guy at all. The media should let this go; McCain has nabed you guys again with a non-issue.

    October 16, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Musicpromo Ca

    It's strange that McCain know what this guy is saying but does not hear the Kill him and other hateful words at his and Palins rallys? But let's look at this Joe for a minute.

    Because this guy Wurzelbacher acknowledged today that he'd still like to eventually buy the plumbing company he works for but that he wouldn't yet be hit by higher taxes.

    Saying "I want to set the record straight: Currently I would not fall into Barack Obama's $250,000-plus," he said. "But if I'm lucky in business and taxes don't go up then maybe I can grow the business and be in that tax bracket – well, let me rephrase it. Hopefully, that tax won't be there." Yea me too but what's the country going to look like after four more years McCain running the place just like bush? No thanks!

    Anyway few owners are that lucky in business. In a member survey conducted late last year, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) found that only 14% of respondents said they had $200,000 or more in annual income.

    "Most owners of small businesses have small incomes."

    Let's not get fooled!

    October 16, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
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