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. aby

    According to Obama, the American Dream ends at 250,000 per year. You're free to be successful up to that point... but as soon as you make anything over that amount, you're a target. The governmnet will take your hard earned profits and dole them out as they deem necessary. Exactly OPPOSITE of what the American Dream is supposed to be. Our ancestors fled Britian because of government tax policy like this. But then, Dems choose not to acknowledge history that doesn't support their socialist agenda.

    October 16, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. Shawn Shaffer

    "Joe the Plumber" might not make $250,000 now but he has that dream and to know he's going to get penalized because of a number kind of puts a damper on that dream and that is un-American.

    The extra taxes might be the difference in whether he hires a full-time employee or not. Wouldn't it be better for Joe to hire an employee who would also pay taxes and help the economy?

    October 16, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Il_voter

    Wow. May be I should consider changing profession. Me and my wife both with masters degree combined dont make more then $250K.

    October 16, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. voter

    First, I have never met a plumber in my neighborhood or state for that matter that makes over $250,000. Second, if joe the plumber wants a business and has over $250,000, they why does he not have a business.

    October 16, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Republicans don't have to pay taxes

    So much for my idea of having my plumber do my taxes next year!

    October 16, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. gimmeabreak

    I have owned and know owners of small businesses. Incomes rarely reach $250K for the individual owners. Joe is an exceptional plummer, but probably not the norm.

    October 16, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. salem

    There seems to be some internet info that this Joe Wurzelbacher already owns three businesses and might be related to Robert Wurzelbacher --of Keating Five fame.....

    hope CNN is looking at this to see if true.....?

    October 16, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Schneider (I) - CA

    What about the report just now coming to light that points out Wurzelbacher is Joe's last name...AND it's the same as the last name of Charles Keating's son-in-law!

    Keating's son-in-law, Robert Wurzelbacher, served a 40-month prison sentence in 1993 in connection with Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan collapse. Since then, who knows what he's been up to, but there is a Robert Wurzelbacher who lives just outside of Cincinnati, owns a wood company, and donates to Republicans.

    Meanwhile there is a Joseph Wurzelbacher who owns a painting company in Cincinnati! Along with a septic tank repair company!

    More GOP lies.

    October 16, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Ray Fisher

    America simply needs to reorganize our government and adopt a fair tax system without loopholes and escapes for certain groups. Joe The Plumber is a "Not in my backyard" type of guy supporting whomever maintains his easy existence while ignoring the needs of our nation while he is comfortable. Just let his business tank and he'll vote Democrat in a heartbeat!!!

    October 16, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. R Stewart

    Why isn't the media checking out "joe the plumber"? In about 15 minutes online, I was able to find out he has a tax lien against him for a little over $1000. (kind of weird for someone who makes $250k), lived in Arizona last year according to divorce filings, no record of being registered to vote in OH or of a plumbing license.
    Sounds like a HOAX to me.

    October 16, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. the gift that keeps on giving

    it seems that Joe has a lien from the state of Ohio for unpaid taxes . . . and he's not an "undecided" but a registered Republican who voted for McCain in the primary . . . . and he may in fact have a close relative who has given lots of money to the Republican party. I love bad campaign ploys that go awry. I think Steve Schmitt and Mark Penn need to go bowling (and stay out of politics).

    October 16, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  12. Fred

    Joe the plumber is right to worry about rich people.

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. SONGBIRD MCCAIN

    Wurzelbacher is his last name: it's the same as the last name of Charles Keating's son-in-law!

    Keating's son-in-law, Robert Wurzelbacher, served a 40-month prison sentence in 1993 in connection with Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan collapse. Since then, who knows what he's been up to, but there is a Robert Wurzelbacher who lives just outside of Cincinnati, owns a wood company, and donates to Republicans.

    Meanwhile there is a Joseph Wurzelbacher who owns a painting company in Cincinnati! Along with a septic tank repair company!

    Moreover...this con artist isn't even registered to vote!!

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  14. johnrj08

    This election is over. Everybody vote and let's move forward... together.

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  15. Bulldog

    So McCain and his campaign are once again distorting the truth.

    for the last 8 years the rich gave gotten richer and the low and middle income have gotten poorer overall. That's a fact. McCain's plan will just continue that trend while Obama's plan will make it more even.

    The rich benefit under McCain, the average middle and low income benefit under Obama. Plain and simple

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. wishing

    Joe the Plumber just does not want to vote for Sen Obama, regardless of the fact that he would actually be financially better off under Obama's tax plan. Either he is a dyed in the wool, already had that koolaid Republican, or there are other reasons besides taxes why he cannot support Obama.

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  17. Nathan,

    McCain is a liar and a fraud. All he has are scare tactics because he has no vision, no policies and no running mate. If we elect him we might as well change the constitution and allow Bush a 3rd term.

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. HC

    Nice try John.

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Latinos Para McCain

    "You see my house. I don't have a lot of bells and whistles in here, really. My truck's a couple of years old and I'm going to have it for the next 10 years, probably. So I don't see him (Obama) helping me out."

    Joe The Plumber is an honorable man and represents the views of hard working Americans. Obama does not beleive in the American dream if he wants to raise taxes on households that make over $250k.

    Obama will turn this country from a Democracy to a Socialist nation. Redistribute the wealth to people who do not want to work..

    Im a Joe Plumber American for McCain......

    October 16, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Joe Sixpack

    American Dream; This is for you... You're right the American Dream is alive and well and so is the future of America unless, that is, we put America back into the hands of the democrats. If you will, read the statement Jon McCain said last night regarding "Joe the Plumber." He didn't say Joe made $250k. He said small businesses making 250k like the one joe works for and is trying to buy. Get your screwing facts straight!

    October 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. Kathy S. Cloughn

    I worked for 36 years for the state of Minnesota and had a very high level position commensurate with my education (MS degree) and I earned $65,000 when I retired in 2001. I pay 25% tax on my Social Security benefits.

    I find it hard to feel sorry for Joe the Plumber who probably had 2 years of education beyond HS and an apprenticeship. He also can take some pretty good deductions if he is an employer.

    I heard that he has been a member of some off the wall party. McCain is desperate and is bringing the crazies out of the woodwork.

    October 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. KJL

    McCain likes to scare people. He considers himself to be some kind of warrior, and scaring ordinary people in order to get their vote is right up his alley. Voters should check the facts, not listen to a desperate, blustering man.

    October 16, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Tony

    It's funny how liberals are so scared that Joe the Plumber and Obama's blatant endorsement of wealth redistribution are going to affect independents that they're willing to tell Joe how he'd REALLY be affect even though nobody's knows what his income is of his financial situation. This is typical Obama, though.

    The great thing is that this hit Socialist Obama right at the core of his beliefs. Obama wants to cap excellence and thinks that it's people's duty to give their hard earned money to the government so Obama can establish a welfare state. Independents are NOT going to support that, so I expect Obama to lie about all this in the very near future once his poll numbers get hit.

    October 16, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  24. Marie

    It just figures that the McCain campaign would be wrong about this to. They have been wrong or tried to change everything else that Senator Obama has said. Senator Obama needs to get the message out that he is the right choice for small businesses.

    October 16, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. bridgette

    McCain does not realize yet and it could be an age thing. And I don't say that to discriminate against someone's age, but, I don't think McCain realizes that we are in an information age and everything can be fact checked and pulled up in an instant. So during the debate there were people checking everything he and his opponents have said. What I would like to know is how is it a woman can be running for VP because accused of breaking an ethics violation and is still being investigated. She and her spouse by the way and not a word on the news. That is what's amazing to me. Oh and by the way give a speech at a convention to people who want to take Alaska back from America. That is something I don't understand. Yet a man who committed an act when the candidate was a little boy can be on the news every nite.

    October 16, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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