Senator John McCain’s much heralded Obama Tax-Plan Critic ‘Joe the Plumber’ Owes Back Taxes.

“Joe the plumber,” the Toledo, Ohio, man whose complaints about Barack Obama’s tax plan were highlighted by John McCain in the final presidential debate, owes the state of Ohio almost $1,200 in back income taxes.

According to records on file with the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, the state filed a tax lien against Samuel J. Wurzelbacher for $1,182.98 on Jan. 26, 2007, that is still active.

Wurzelbacher was thrust into the national spotlight this week when he told Obama he worried that the Illinois senator’s proposals to roll back Bush administration tax breaks for Americans earning more than $250,000 would prevent him from buying a plumbing business that would earn between $250,000 and $280,000 a year.

Wurzelbacher’s home telephone number is unlisted, and efforts to reach him by calling his neighbors and family were unsuccessful. Attempts to reach Wurzelbacher at the plumbing company where he works were also unsuccessful. The address on the lien and other records for him matched the address published by the Toledo Blade, which also noted the lien.

The state of Ohio places a lien on real property after several steps to try to collect a tax debt, according to John Kohlstrand, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation who said he couldn’t discuss any specific case.

It’s far more likely that the $280,000 Wurzelbacher told Obama he’d earn would be in the form of gross receipts and not taxable income, said Steven Bankler, a certified public accountant in San Antonio, who counts plumbers and other trade professionals as his clients.

According to an analysis by Dun & Bradstreet on Wurzelbacher’s employer, A. W. Newell Corp., the plumbing and heating contractor has annual sales of $510,000.

If Wurzelbacher bought the company, by the time he took proper business deductions, Bankler said, he’d be left with between $150,000 and $200,000 in taxable income and wouldn’t be affected by Obama’s proposed increase in the top rates.

Wurzelbacher doesn’t have a plumber’s license and isn’t registered as a plumber in Ohio, the Toledo Blade reported on its Web site today. His employer has a state plumbing license, the newspaper said.

Joe In The Spotlight

Joe Wurzelbacher, “Joe the Plumber” is In The Spotlight.

One week ago, Joe Wurzelbacher was just another working man living in a modest ranch house near Toledo thinking about how to expand his plumbing business. But when he stopped Senator Barack Obama during a visit to his block this weekend to ask about his taxes, he set himself on a path to being the newest media celebrity — and, like other celebrities, found himself under scrutiny.

Turns out that “Joe the Plumber,” as he became nationally known when Senator John McCain made him a theme at Wednesday night’s third and final presidential debate, may run a plumbing business but he is not a licensed plumber. His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes a bit in back taxes.

An official at Local 50 of the plumber’s union, based in Toledo, said Mr. Wurzelbacher does not hold a license. He also has never served an apprenticeship and does not belong to the union.

“I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year,” he told Mr. Obama during an exchange that was filmed and later showed up on YouTube. “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”

When Mr. McCain invoked Mr. Wurzelbacher in Wednesday’s debate — some version of “Joe the Plumber” was mentioned two dozen times during the 90 minutes — as a way to criticize Mr. Obama’s tax plan and wealth-sharing argument, Mr. Wurzelbacher suddenly found camera crews outside his home, Katie Couric on the phone, and himself in the full glare of the media spotlight.

Mr. Wurzelbacher did not respond to a message left on his home phone and there was no answer at his plumbing business.

Unlike some other states, Ohio does not have a formal statewide licensing system for plumbers. But the city of Toledo and other municipalities do, Mr. Joseph said, and Mr. Wurzelbacher has not met those requirements.

“All contractors are licensed, and he does not have a license, either as a contractor or a plumber,” the union official said, citing a search of government records. “I can’t find that he’s ever even applied for any kind of apprenticeship, and he has never belonged to local 189 in Columbus, which is what he claims on his Facebook page.”

Joe the Plumber or Joe the Deadbeat?

I have a few questions for you Joe.

  • If you are making $250,000 or more how come you cannot pay your tax bill?
  • Why is your phone unlisted?
  • Why don’t you have a plumber’s license?
  • Don’t you need a plumber’s license to go into the plumbing business on your own?
  • If you can’t pay your tax bills how are you going to buy out your employer?

Joe the Plumber, it seems to me you would be getting a tax break under Obama if you are making under $250,000. Perhaps you need some math lessons in addition to a plumber’s license if you want to go into the plumbing business on your own. One final question for you Joe, are you a shill for McCain?

Addendum:

CNN Money is doing a McCain Fact check: Plumber Joe’s taxes

McCain has entrepreneurs spooked about tax hikes, but fewer than 2% of small business owners would pay more under Obama’s plan.

The precise number is 1.4% according to the article.

For the record, I am not voting for either Obama or McCain.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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