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. johnk


    The taxable income is gross income, not net income. And if Joe the Plumber's prospective business makes $250K a year, how much do you think Joe the Plumber will actually bring home? I agree that taxing companies that make a huge amount of money at a higher rate is fair game, but a business making $250K is not that big of a sum.

    Planted or not, the concept that McCain was raising is true.

    October 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. karen from Jax

    I find it interesting that so much dirt can be dug up on one individual just because he asked a question of Senator Obama. I am married to a small business owner that does earn over $250,000 a year. Together we make over $350,000 a year. You know why...because we have spent the last 30 years of our lives building careers (no college) and have been true to ourselves, paying our taxes on donating well over 10% to charity. No one gave it to us, no money was left by deceased family members, we worked, we saved and we earned. Maybe if the American people would get back to the principles we were raised on, everyone would be working hard and saving rather than living way beyond their means. How many of those "less fortunate" still have cell phones, smoke, drink and the best case we can be presented is to take our hard earned money and "spread the wealth." I don;t know whether or not Joe is a plant and I relaly don;t care, what I do agree with is that I want to decide who I give my money to and not the government. And just in case your wondering...I have been a Democrat for 35 years and have always voted!

    October 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Jill

    Ken you don't understand the point. Plumbers do not make $250, 000.00/year unless they are frauds. If yours does get a new one and vote for Obama.

    October 16, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. McCain = Party First

    Read the Article on cnn Money. It is well written, and it goes to show how the McCain campaign continues to LIE LIE LIE! LESS THAN 2% OF SMALL BUSINESS WOULD SEE THEIR TAXES INCREASE UNDER OBAMA'S PLAN, NOT 50% AS MCCAIN CLAIMS! Share the article with all of your friends. Let the truth be told!

    October 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Francheska

    If "Joe DA Plumber" makes over $250,000, then I have spent three years pursuing a degree in Computer Science for nothing. I just could have become a plumber!! Yeah right!! 😉

    October 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Felicia

    To think that a small business can not make 250,000.00 is outrageous.
    My uncle has a small business and made his first million 3 years ago. He is in construction. Lives in a small town. How insulting to those business owner's that they are not capable. You get out of your business what you put in. These men and woman that work hard to build a business and put others to work should not be taxed.

    Calling a hard working man a loser.. wow

    I can not believe some of you people out there.....

    October 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. milo

    McCain made a HUGE mistake trying to use this guy as an example.

    He makes WAY under 250k, as he's admitted, meaning he's an example of one of the 95% of small business owners who will do better and pay less taxes under OBAMA's plan.

    October 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  8. Proud American

    McCains followers are like lemmings going over the precipice. They'd rather cut off their noses to spite their faces. We cant afford to continue what obvoiusly is Not and will NOT work for America.
    Obama/ Biden '08

    October 16, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  9. cheney=palin

    -–my brother is plumber and he doesn't make that much...
    the plumber make less than 46k a year

    October 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. Vincent, Great Lakes, Illinois

    Last night McCain talked about the woman that was at his rally who called Obama an "Arab."

    I look back and see a plant, as he stated that he has rebutted everyone who has said negative things about Obama at his rally's and used her as his case in point. There were only two times that McCain didn't laugh and go along with the crowd and it was this week.

    What kind of idiot would let themselves be used for someone else's political gain?

    October 16, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. gerri

    Wonder if hes related to Jeff "the plant"Gannon?He looks a bit like him?

    October 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. jeanette Issano

    This guy is a fake. He was set up by the Mccain campaign to ask the silly question to Obama. he does not have the money to by any business.

    October 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Sindu

    I own a business that generate $10m in revenue and employ 60 workers and management staff. My business loss $1m a year... I would love to trade the Joe the plumber position of making a net profit of $250K and might get tax break from Obama tax plan because I create job and provide health care for my employee...

    October 16, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  14. Selena Georgia

    "Read My Lips, No New Taxes". Remember what happened to that campaign promise?

    Same thing with McCain. Neither candidate KNOWS what they will have to do once they enter office, because they have NO IDEA how bad things really are until they actually look at the books. McCain is going to have to rise taxes as well. If anything, he will be raising taxes by taxing healthcare benefits as income.

    October 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |

    Is the tax plan for 250,000 net pay or gross pay???????????????????/
    anyone know

    October 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Jade, NY

    Whether or not Joe the Plumber was a plant, I guess McCain's tactic was to scare small businessmen. I sure hope this tactic doesn't work. If this is an issue for business people, they should seek more details from each candidate. Also keep in mind that those of us who are not rich will have more money in our pockets to spend on small businesses if Obama's tax plans are implemented.

    October 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. JS

    Obama makes me nervous, until McCain starts talking.

    October 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  18. PA for Obama

    CNN, get with it already. There is no plumber by the name of Joe Wurzelbacher licensed in the state of Ohio. There is no Joe Wurzelbacher registered to vote in the state of Ohio. There is, however, a Richard Wurzelbacher who is a major contributor to the GOP in Ohio. Once again, you've all been duped. When will the press learn NOT to take everything a Republican tells you at face value? Investigate BEFORE you report.

    October 16, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  19. Jeanette Issano

    Joe the Plumber is a fake. he was set up the McCain campaign to pull a fast one.

    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  20. Fabio in Chicago

    Joe the Plumber? what about Fred the baker?

    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. White-African(born there) American Military BRAT

    This. so called 'Joe the Plumber', DOES NOT REPRESENT US.

    We DON'T have enough money to BUY A BUSINESS.

    My husband, an Auto Body Man, barely makes enough to pay the bills, let alone, buy a business.

    So, GO AHEAD JOE......BUY THAT BUSINESS......As the Republican You ARE, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, ISN'[T IT??????

    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. MikeH

    Joe the Plumber is turning out to be Joe the Fat Cat stool.

    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Michelle

    Just to throw this out there, my father makes over $250k a year, and he's not a lying, cheating or stealing member of the community. He makes his money because he worked very hard and he climbed the corporate ladder. So yeah, he can afford a few more dollars in the taxes he has NEVER dodged, but having that extra money doesn't make him a bad guy.

    I'm voting for Obama and so is he, but stop making my dad sound like he stole his way to success.

    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. 58 white old ladies for OBAMA



    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  25. Fabio in Chicago

    Joe the Plumber? what about Fred the baker? TIme to make the donuts

    October 16, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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