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Joe the Plumber Wants YOU to Vote the IRS Out* (*Fee Applies)

2 min readBy: Josh Barro

Joe Wurzelbacher, anti-taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. icon and sometime plumber, has been busy this year. Pajamas Media sent him as a correspondent to report on the Gaza war, where he announced his belief that “media should be abolished from, you know, reporting.” On Capitol Hill, conservative staffers gathered to hear Joe’s advice on the economic stimulus package. Joe has spent a fair bit of time in Washington and has, for reasons beyond my comprehension, been received as a person worth taking seriously by various parts of the conservative apparatus.

Now, Joe has a new job. He’s a pitchman for, where you can join Joe to “vote the IRS out”—by calling a 900 number at $0.99 per call. The ad must be seen to be believed:

The ad promotes the FairTax, a proposal for a 30% national retail sales taxA sales tax is levied on retail sales of goods and services and, ideally, should apply to all final consumption with few exemptions. Many governments exempt goods like groceries; base broadening, such as including groceries, could keep rates lower. A sales tax should exempt business-to-business transactions which, when taxed, cause tax pyramiding. to replace most existing federal taxes. FairTax proponents have made ridiculous claims in the past—for example, that the federal government can raise net revenue by taxing its own purchases (see The FairTax Book, page 148). However, the claim that you can “vote the IRS out” by calling a 900 number has to take the cake.

The website is pretty amusing. Check out this page, where you can read various fact-free “facts” about the Internal Revenue Service, such as that “the average family pays over 38% of their [sic] total income to the IRS.” (Note: not true.) They also explain, apologetically, why you must pay 99 cents each time you “vote the IRS out”:

Due to the nature of our campaign we need to make sure every vote counts and do everything possible to make sure that the votes cannot be refuted in any way. Unfortunately, if a vote is made and payment is not collected it becomes difficult to authenticate the vote.

A plea to my fellow advocates of simpler taxation and limited government: can we please, please, please agree to stop taking this cut-rate Billy Mays seriously?

The Tax Foundation has produced an actually factual list of fun tax facts. More on sales taxes here. More on (sigh) Joe the Plumber here.