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. Republican for OBAMA

    I make more than 250,000 per year and I don't have a problem with paying more in taxes.

    If some of us, including companies don't pay more, how do you think we will EVER get out of the GAZILLION dollars of debt we have today???

    To hear John McCain talk, you'd think that Barack Obama was going to personally come to your house, take your money and hand it out on the street corner...

    And to all of you spewing about "redistribution of wealth" please shut up unless you ACTUALLY make enough to pay extra taxes.

    Even my 95 year old white mother from Mississippi is voting for Obama because McCain's tax credit plan offers NOTHING for seniors and Obama's plan does NOT tax seniors making 50,000 or less per year.

    October 16, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Melissa

    Oh, and by the way, those voters that haven't made up your mind yet keep in mind McCain wants to tax your healthcare benefits. A first time ever that any President has ever wanted to do this.
    Since all the focus has been on "Plumber Joe" then keep in mind McCain is also a war monger. War! War! War! Drill! Drill! Drill!!
    We need to end this war! Iraq has a $78 billion surplus and the US gov't is still giving them money!!!!! as we speak and our 401K money is going down the drain. Who needs this kind of thinking?
    Start thinking about what the candidate wants to do and stop thinking about what party you are for!
    For God's sake people have been dropped from their insurance because they are high risk and sick and out of money! Wake up
    you uncaring people!!
    Keep in mind McCain cohorted with Phil Graham who called America "a nation of whiners." McCain has admitted he knows nothing about economy and he has admitted he is a deregulator. He is in large part why we are where we are today.
    Do what is right!

    Go Obama

    October 16, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. Angela

    Joe the plumber is a fraud. Planted by McCain. He was too poised and shrewd. And he apprearently is connected to McCains pal Keating.

    And here is some unfuzzy math for all Joe the Plumbers. Obama's tax increase is only applying to the NET taxable income ( after all expenses have been subtracted from the gross sales) that exceeds 250,000. So for Joe the plumber to be significantly affected by Obama's tax plan, he would have to be looking to buy a business that grosses quite a bit more than 250,000, more like about 300,000 and up. If the plumbing industry is that lucrative in that part of Ohio, then Im pulling my son out of college and slapping a wrench in his hand.

    October 16, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. confused miami

    Let's get something straight here: 1. he has no plummer licence 2. he whants to own the company he works for

    don't you have to be licenced to be work as a plummer?

    where is he getting the money from buying the comany?
    Is McCain buying it for him?

    How did McCain know that much about this joe?
    Tell me I am not the only one that sees something not right here?
    What is it with McCain and Palin about this " Joe's"?
    joe six pack now joe the plummer

    October 16, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. Brittany

    Reading the comments on this page, I think something needs to be clarified. We are talking about taking a nominal amount of money from joe. Joe already gives up a 3rd (that's 85K) of his income to the government, we are asking to raise that to almost half!

    October 16, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  6. sandy

    This guy is nothing more that another Republican gimmick! I don't believe one word they say or do. I hope Americans can see through this stuff because to me it's all clear as a bell.


    October 16, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. JK in Seattle

    I am a business owner with 20 employees and my business makes more than 250k a year. So if I am profiting well after all my employees' pays are paid out (including mine). I do not think that it is going to hurt so much after all. I pay a bit higher taxes, fine.... but think about this... this money goes to the public who are making less... but they in turn would increase their spending and that will increase my business... I think it will work... infact that will be like a lilttle rebate for more business. The economy will flourish. I dont mind doing that. I think I will vote for Obama after I thought about it a lot. I surely think this would be good.

    Think about it.

    October 16, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. peggy

    Someone wrote ,if McMcains running mate was a light bulb ,they would vote light bulb!Good grief! Two things I can not tolerate is laziness and stupidity. There is no excuse for either.Please you dont have to be stupid,for goodness sake,get your head on staight and get informed!

    October 16, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Blaire-OH

    American economy and the American dream has always been based on capitalism... so for all of you Obama supporters, please explain to me how "speading the wealth" or as Michelle Obama said in April "give up a piece of your pie so that someone else can have more" is supporting capitalism and not socialism?? Wake up people!

    October 16, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. Johnathan


    October 16, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Leo4Obama

    I hear McCain supporters say, "No tax and spend" Sounds nice, but the problem is that the money is already spent (borrowed)!!! 10 Billion each month for Iraq and let's pile everything else on top.

    The "well-to-do" have enjoyed an extraordinary tax-cut and countless loopholes to stash their money away.

    Sorry folks, but the waiter has come with the bill. Conservatives love to say "Freedom isn't free", well "my friends", it's time to pay up!!

    October 16, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Baze

    The problem with McCain's charges is that he's full of it.

    October 16, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. Karen- Bring on the Elections - WE ARE ONE

    Joe the Plumber does not relate to my life at all. I'm the average person making 50 – 60K a year. Warren Buffet said, why should someone who makes 50K a year be taxed the same as me who is worth 56 Billion dollars. Warren Buffet was right and so is Obama. If Joe the plumber is making 250K and doesn't want to share the wealth with his employees who making less than him, then he is a selfish person. Joe should want everybody to experience joy the same as him. Anyhow, I just heard Joe the plumber say, he was called by the Republican party to be at the rally in Ohio, so I'm not surprise to hear he was planted the McCain party.

    Obama/Biden '08.

    October 16, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. KJ

    Sooo, Joe The "alleged" Plumber plant is a jerk. Lies and deceit is all you get with McCain/Palin.

    OBAMA/BIDEN, 2008!

    October 16, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Brittany

    I also think right now people are stating to feel the "recession", which is anyone was paying attention is greatly attributed to companies that are struggling. So how is bankrupting businesses further going to help individuals who don't own businesses when it has been demonstrated over the last year one affects the other! Maybe if you don't believe in personal achievement you should move to Russia

    October 16, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  16. teri

    Check out NY Times article about Joe the plummer.

    October 16, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Baze

    I would like someone to explain to me how Joe the Plumber is going to make 250K when currently our country is in a position where nobody is spending? The only "small business" that stands to make that kind of money these days is some sort of security firm (security meaning protection of others' welfare), or your local street pharmacy.


    October 16, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Brittany

    Confused-the plan is for 250K BEFORE taxes.

    October 16, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  19. Drew

    Excellent review of the small business tax implications of Obama's plan. Methinks McCain doth protest too much!

    October 16, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. ken

    i truely belive that this joe the plumer was a republican setup to try and catch obama maybe saying something to joe plumer that could hurt him, this guy makes no senceon what he said , in my opinion the guy was a plant , and if he is checked out , he will most likly be a plant , he might be a plumber but i do not belive he makes any where the $ 250,000.00 he is talking about and should be in vestagted as much as mc cain is with the poeple that obama had met. you will find joe the plumer was a plant ,and the republican party should be held to explain themselfs ken

    October 16, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  21. Lotus

    Joe the Plumber = Keating's grandson
    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 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  22. Don in Florida

    Obama Supporters....let's not celebrate too early, we still have a lot of work ahead of us over the next 20 days. Once your state starts early voting, volunteer to help get people to the polls. we need most of us to vote early so that there won't be any 'funny business' at the polls on Nov 4. Trust me I know, I live in Florida. Make sure your College kids have Absentee ballots available to them if they haven’t registered at college. If for some reason you can't vote, help out by providing transportation to the polls to at least 10 Obama voters. This is still not over yet. We have to be prepared for an October surprise. Some international event that could help McCain. Don't forget Bush is still in office and there are a lot of things he could do to try to help McCain, so we have to work very hard these last 20 days. And finally, let's be respectful of McCain and his supporters. We don't want to look or act like some of those people at the Republican rallies. We're better than that. We will usher in a whole new Democratic Revolution that will change this world for the better for generations to come.

    That One & Biden 08 & 12

    October 16, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  23. Michael

    I am going to pull my Kids out of College and put them in a Plumber Apprentice program. Wow! $$$250,000 a year Plumbers woo hoo. If my kids can make that much money as plumbers. Heck I will be happy to pay their tiny tax increase under Obama. Face it Kids. Joe the Plumbers real name is not Joe. He is not licensed as a Plumber and there are plans for him to be put on show at the McBush Rallies.
    Joe the Plumber was a plant. Just like the Black guy at the McBush speech that was yelling about Rev. Wright. He was a local Republican Radio Program Host. Obama has plans for our economic recovery. McBush has gimmicks.

    October 16, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  24. Jed Clampett

    Attention: A Woman In California For Obama:

    Congrats on insulting us backwoods people from Ohio. I especially enjoyed how you turned the issue from politics and taxes to questioning Joe's patriotism and calling him a coward. As for why should we all not focus on this guy, apparently you haven't been watching your news out there in California. Ohio is a SWING STATE!

    October 16, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. Brittany

    I think people need to stand for something and uphold those principles even when it is sometimes more temping not to. This country stands being self achievement, and the "American Dream". We can not only stand by that principle when the streets are paved with gold , but all the time. If you don't feel that way, then it is not the right country for you- you have you forgotten about why and how we broke from England?? Three words-Boston Tea Party.

    October 16, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
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