Joe the Plumber's tax troubles
Helio Castroneves in tax trouble

One more go at Joe the Plumber

As the day has gone on, more attention has been paid to Joe the Plumber and his potential federal taxes and overdue state taxes.

I'm sure he's feeling a bit akin to the lead character in Kevin Costner's latest (and little-seen) election-themed movie, Swing Vote.

Not to belabor the issue, but here are a few more Joe the Plumber post-debate reactions.

Citizens for Tax Justice asks Does Joe the Plumber need a Tax Cut? The nonprofit public interest research and advocacy organization says:

We estimate that only 2.3 percent of taxpayers will be above the $250,000/$200,000 AGI threshold this year, meaning Obama would extend the Bush income tax cuts, and enact several new tax cuts, for all but the richest 2.3 percent. We are not convinced that new tax cuts for over 97 percent of taxpayers would help working America as much as other policy options, but at least Senator Obama makes a logical argument as to why any new tax cuts should be targeted to those who are not among the very rich.

In any event, even if Mr. Wurzelbacher earns $280,000, as he says he hopes to do, he'll still get a substantial income tax cut under Obama's tax program. That's because Obama proposes to extend the Bush reductions in the bottom four tax brackets, which are the rates that apply to almost all of Mr. Wurzelbacher's taxable income. To be sure, McCain wants to give Mr. Wurzelbacher an even bigger tax cut, but that would save him at most only $900 a year.

CTJ also says it saw in last night's debate a tilting of McCain away from our progressive tax system:

During the presidential debate, McCain pounced on Obama's words "spread the wealth" to imply that Obama is proposing socialist policies. Obama was clearly arguing for having low- and middle-income people keep a larger share of their income than the wealthy -- which is the sole purpose of a progressive income tax with graduated rates.

If McCain has recently decided that he opposes a progressive income tax and supports a flat income tax or a national sales tax instead, that's probably something that the campaign should make clear to the public in the three weeks left before the election.

The conservative side of the political spectrum has a different take on the Obama tax plan and how it would affect the country's plumbers and other small businesses.

Americans for Tax Reform issued a release entitled Five Things You Might Not Know About Obama's Small Business Tax Hikes.

ATR contends that the Obama plan could produce a 54.9 percent tax rate for small businesses as "the individual top rate will climb from 35 percent to 39.6 percent and the Social Security/Medicare tax rate could climb from 2.9 percent to 15.3 percent.  Put those together, and you get 54.9 percent."

Finally, TaxProf has some additional video clips and links to other articles on Joe Wurzelbacher.

And with that, I'm turning off the clock on Joe's 15 minutes. I suspect after today's follow-ups, he's ready for it to end, too.


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