Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber’s $275,000 – Is This Gross or Net?

Josh Marshall suggests that Joe the Plumber (real name – Joe Wurzelbacher) may be a rightwing Republican and not the average Joe some want us to believe. When I saw his question directed at Barack Obama, I had the same feeling. Joe told Obama that he was about to purchase a business that brings in $275,000. John McCain must have thought this was Joe’s net as in profit but what if Joe was referring to his gross income or revenue? But let’s suppose Joe has to hire five plumber friends at $42,000 per year to run his business. His net would be only $65,000 per year. While a 50 percent improvement over what his friends would be making, Joe would get a tax cut not a tax increase under Obama’s proposal. Steve Benen makes this same point:

Based on the reports this morning, the profits of Wurzelbacher's small business are well under $250,000, so Obama's proposal wouldn't adversely affect him at all. He's apparently concerned that he may someday have those kinds of profits, though, which is obviously his prerogative. In the meantime, depending on some of the details, Wurzelbacher would probably get a tax break under Obama's plan, and if he's like most of the middle class, his break would be bigger under Obama than under McCain.

For McCain to suggest otherwise is either dishonesty or sheer confusion. Now I would hope our next President understands the difference between revenue and profit. You may have also heard McCain’s claim that Joe’s business would pay a fine under the Obama health care plan. Watch and enjoy both Obama’s rebuttal and McCain’s confused stare when McCain was caught on one of his many false claims.


Anonymous said...

I am currently in the market to purchase an existing business. In reviewing many small business' financial statements, I have found that, invariably, the owners of these businesses use a phalanx of accounting tricks to minimize their reported income and avoid paying their fair share of taxes (pay wife/kids a salary for minimal work, liberal business expense write-offs, etc...). I find it amusing/enlightening that they are very quick to explain this in order to pump-up the perceived value of their company to a potential buyer, even though they claim otherwise to the IRS. If I were the government, I would be sending tax agents out as "business buyers" to get a true picture of business tax liabilities.

Jack said...

It is also the experience of almost every automobile sales agent that small business owners have one key question in regards to making payment, "How much cash can I give you before it has to be reported?"
It is amazing how many people want to put $9,900 towards their purchases. Pity the small business owner the burden of taxation, that we all face.

Anonymous said...

It is weird how it seems there is so much discussions of money, as there is plenty of money on wall street, but there is all kinds of problems there.

It was impossible for President Bush to have caused that mess with the lending institutions, and it will be impossible for McCain or Obama to straighten it out.

Henry said...

There is little doubt that the GOP used this issue to confuse people. During the debate, on the Twitter coverage, I did the best I could to let folks know that Joe would be one damn rich Plumber if he could afford to buy an existing company that is making $250-280k in net profits, and was pretty petty to let his decision, his lifelong dream, rest on the potential of having to pay an additional $900 in taxes.

Alas, it turns out Joe's lifelong dream (he's only 34!) was based on a conversation in his job interview 6 years ago, when he was told someday he might be able to buy the business. And the $250,000 figure? That's the COST OF PURCHASING THE COMPANY! Joe's sadly confused. McCain is sadly, no CRUELLY, deceptive. said...

Of course we now know that a) Joe id not a plumber, or at least a legal one, and b) he owes a bunch of back taxes. Also, although he claims to be an undecided while his rhetoric parallels that of McCain, he is reported to have been a member of the Natural Law Party, which would put him somewhere to the right of most conservative Republicans. So, Joe is a joke, all the way around.