Philadelphia Charging Bloggers $300 for Business License

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Philadelphia Charging Bloggers $300 for Business License

image

Bloggers in the city of Philadelphia could find themselves on the hook for a $300 "business privilege license" if they have revenue-generating ads on their sites, even if they only bring in a few dollars a year.

Most blogs are labors of love. They're an outlet for frustration and creativity, an opportunity for people to babble about their favorite topic or vent about whatever's on their nerves and, for the vast majority of those who keep them, an absolutely terrible way to make money. The City of Brotherly Love has found a way to make some bucks from them, however. It's begun charging bloggers $300 for a "business privilege license" if they have ads on their sites, no matter how paltry the amount they bring in.

Marilyn Bess, who keeps the MS Philly Organic blog on Wordpress and "infrequently" contributes to ehow.com, received a letter from the city in May demanding $300 for a license. She estimates she's brought in about $50 over the past few years. "The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," she said.

When she appealed the matter to the city, she added, "I was told to hire an accountant."

Sean Barry, the man behind Circle of Fits on Blogspot, found himself in a similar situation. His blog carries two ads and has brought in about $11 in two years, but the city is nonetheless insisting that he pay for a license. "Personally, I don't think Circle of Fits is a business," he said. "It might be someday if I start selling coffee mugs, key chains or locks of my hair to my fans. I don't think blogs should be taxed unless they are making an immense profit."

But in the eyes of the city, if money is being made then the piper must be paid. Andrea Mannino of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue said that the mere presence of ads qualifies a blog a business, regardless of how much it makes. Furthermore, the city considers bloggers to be the same as freelance writers and requires them not only to pay for a license, but also to pay tax on their profits, on top of their regular state and federal taxes.

A proposed update to the law would eliminate the tax on the first $100,000 of profit but would still require bloggers to purchase a license. City Councilor Bill Green, one of the council members who put forth the proposal, suggested that bloggers who didn't want to cough up $300 for a lifetime business privilege license could instead opt for a $50 yearly plan.

Source: Philadelphia City Paper, via Hard|OCP

Permalink

As a blogger myself, I think this is a terrible idea. Everyone knows that ads very rarely pay out, and even then it's not enough to actually buy anything (except maybe some food).

What an idiot.

Edit: Since most free blog services put ads on the page, wouldn't you then have to pay for a license (even if it is the host's ads and not yours)? The city would be silencing your right to free speech. Or does it not work that way? Either way, this law will probably not last very long.

Edit 2: You can't have your own ads on your Wordpress.com blogs, unless you get 25k+ page views/month or whatever (as a part of Ad Control). As both linked blogs are on free hosts, this means if you don't get a lot of page views to be in the Ad Control program (or pay for VIP, which I'm sure the lady with the wordpress.com blog doesn't have) then the city has stepped waaaaaaaaaay too far over the line and is violating the first amendment (I'm not a lawyer or providing legal advice, just assessing the situation).

Someone is in quite a bit of trouble.

This is absurd. Don't they know that the money the ads bring in probably just barely pay to keep the domain? Didn't realize simple hobbies were so damned expensive.

Oh that's just pathetic. As far as I know, most bloggers use whatever small revenue generated from the ads to pay to keep their website up, not to turn a profit. And then having to pay income tax as well is just silly.

It's like shutting down a kid's lemonade stand in the summer because they don't have a license, then taxing them.

...I did not realize that the economy is still this bad. When a city starts trying to wring out $300.02 from bloggers, of all people, then it's probably time for a city to fire their current accountant and get a new one.

Really, this is just insane. The City of Brotherly Love just got a little less brotherly--or more, depending on personal brotherly relationships.

CoverYourHead:

It's like shutting down a kid's lemonade stand in the summer because they don't have a license, then taxing them.

This happens more than you'd think. I'll refrain from an anti-bureaucratic rant.

CoverYourHead:
Oh that's just pathetic. As far as I know, most bloggers use whatever small revenue generated from the ads to pay to keep their website up, not to turn a profit. And then having to pay income tax as well is just silly.

It's like shutting down a kid's lemonade stand in the summer because they don't have a license, then taxing them.

Reminds me of that Boondocks episode...

Anyway, this is just stupid. As others have said, the ads are there just to keep the site running. They're not there to turn a profit. Asking them to pay so much for something so small is just stupid.

wow this is beyond moronic, seems like a good way around it is to just pull the ads tho and tell them to fuck off

CoverYourHead:
Oh that's just pathetic. As far as I know, most bloggers use whatever small revenue generated from the ads to pay to keep their website up, not to turn a profit. And then having to pay income tax as well is just silly.

It's like shutting down a kid's lemonade stand in the summer because they don't have a license, then taxing them.

that's actually exactly how it sounds =S

i don't really think philadelphia is going to get a lot of money out of this licensing thingy. i think bloggers in philadelphia will just go screw it, and stop blogging.

how do they check this anyways? do they have like, some employee that surfs the web all day looking for blogs from philadelphia? Oo

Serris:

CoverYourHead:
Oh that's just pathetic. As far as I know, most bloggers use whatever small revenue generated from the ads to pay to keep their website up, not to turn a profit. And then having to pay income tax as well is just silly.

It's like shutting down a kid's lemonade stand in the summer because they don't have a license, then taxing them.

that's actually exactly how it sounds =S

i don't really think philadelphia is going to get a lot of money out of this licensing thingy. i think bloggers in philadelphia will just go screw it, and stop blogging.

how do they check this anyways? do they have like, some employee that surfs the web all day looking for blogs from philadelphia? Oo

Tax filings. While the escapist doesn't say this, you can read more of the story here.

Law is always lagging behind technology.

This flat-rate fee was clearly written into law with the idea that the only businesses that could possibly exist would have revenue and spending easily in thousands of dollars, and failed to consider how new technology would allow "businesses" that barely generate $100 and hardly cost anything to actually run.

Woah wait a hot second.

We have to get a permit to actually blog who Ads only pay 11-15 dollars.

Anyone, be thankful that you don't live here.

CoverYourHead:

It's like shutting down a kid's lemonade stand in the summer because they don't have a license, then taxing them.

That actually happen here.

Politicians are obviously unfamiliar with the term: business. As it stands, that amount of money is I think barely enough to keep their blog running. 99% of the time, the bloggers would have to pony up money themselves to keep the blog running. So how are they going to afford 300 bucks if they pump the gained money back in to their blog?

They tried to do something similar in North Carolina. They tried to tax affiliate marketing. Every company with an affiliate marketing program simply dropped everyone in North Carolina and everyone who made a living off affiliate marketing moved to another state.

Can't tax the internet, bro.

Heh, okay, so everyone moves out of Philadelphia, or hosts the server on an external server outside of Philly, problem solved. Way to go, idiots.

Silly lawmakers, intelligence is not for you!

I hope someone challenges this, although it may be all legal beagle as far as the written law goes. Also, I wonder what qualifies for a "blog"... do they mean any website that runs ads? A webcomic?

This is a terrible idea and a great example of how overblown has the government become... and not only the U.S.

Not enough money, oh government? Lose some fat.

Poll taxes were made illegal because they restricted voters rights.

This is no different. It can be seen as a way to restrict freedom of speech. So it will be over-turned.

A blog is not a specific business, and even if it was it is located on the Internet, not Philidelphia. It will never hold up.

Or you could just not pay and stop blogging?

I'm pretty sure this is extortion anyway.

Technically it is completely illegal because since its a personal blog it can't count as a business. You arn't charging people to view it niether are you making an official wage from ad revenues, they are closer to donations rathr than payouts.

PLUS:

I doubt the blog servers are hosted in philidelphia so technically they can't demand you cough up because you arn't actually publishing anything in philidelphia...

This is just one example of the complete disconnect between government and reality...and logic. Seriously, how in the hell can they call a blog a personal business? How? This reminds me of this little situation in Los Angeles where small business owners have to purchase a permit costing a few hundred dollars in order to have signs on their storefront windows.

Ouch... This must be a nasty surprise to the bloggers...

...Okay, my hometown has now gone completely insane.

But hey, we still have the cheesesteaks.

Or, y'know, you could not rob people blind for exercising their right to free speech.

Way to staunch developing technology, Philly!

RogueDarkJedi:
As a blogger myself, I think this is a terrible idea. Everyone knows that ads very rarely pay out, and even then it's not enough to actually buy anything (except maybe some food).

What an idiot.

Edit: Since most free blog services put ads on the page, wouldn't you then have to pay for a license (even if it is the host's ads and not yours)? The city would be silencing your right to free speech. Or does it not work that way? Either way, this law will probably not last very long.

Yeah, it doesn't really work that way. You have the right to not be censored, not the right to put it on the internet. Same with the guy who was talking about poll taxes, those are illegal because one has a right to vote, and if they can't afford to vote because of taxes then the state is basically stripping peoples' rights. It's different because access to the internet - let alone having a presence on the internet - is certainly not a fundamental right.

While not illegal, what this legislation will do is staunch technology. People in Philadelphia will stop blogging or move out of the city rather than buy an overpriced license. Philadelphia blogging will go down, and Pennsylvania revenues will not see any significant increase. In fact, it's possible that the city won't see a single cent from this initiative since all bloggers have to do is move to a nearby suburb to escape taxation - and if this happens enough, the city may even see a decrease in revenue since they're no longer taxing those people for housing.

It just doesn't make sense. I have no idea how this could possibly benefit the city.

Yeah, this is what I would do. I won't pay and I'd take it to court. Yes that 300 turns into 3000 or more but it will stop this mess in its tracks I'd be willing to take the hit so that countless others don't get forced into throwing 300 bucks away for a licence they don't need. Another thing they need to do is get a large group of bloggers together and head to the court house and start duking it out and get this stupid law removed.

damnit....our state used to be so good at keeping things on the downlow.....now where hiching our skirts up and screaming for attention.....if you will excuse me saying so.

Luckily I live in Jersey. South Jersey, the real New Jersey. I thought Philadelphia was trying to become the epicenter of tech on the east coast, you're not helping with this stupid scheme. Hmmm, tomorrows papers should be interesting.

Anyway, GO PHILLIES!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, Philadelphia has spent decades running itself into the ground with crooked politicians, scandals, corruption and nepotism. (I should know; I grew up in New Jersey, where state government tries very very hard to be even worse.) It wouldn't surprise me if this was a desperate money grab to help prop up the city coffers. Drowning man, floating stick, et cetera. I mean, apparently for next year's budget, the mayor is proposing a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on "sugary drinks" and a $300 yearly trash fee.

The Rogue Wolf:
Unfortunately, Philadelphia has spent decades running itself into the ground with crooked politicians, scandals, corruption and nepotism. (I should know; I grew up in New Jersey, where state government tries very very hard to be even worse.) It wouldn't surprise me if this was a desperate money grab to help prop up the city coffers. Drowning man, floating stick, et cetera. I mean, apparently for next year's budget, the mayor is proposing a 2-cent-per-ounce tax on "sugary drinks" and a $300 yearly trash fee.

What are you talking about, taking over Atlantic City was a great idea.

In wise words of Heavy:
Stupid, stupid, stupid!

They are screwing over the middleman but let all these bankers get away with their bullshit non-justified wages.

Sure. Sure.

wow. The internet is going to be fast running out of facepalm pictures if this kind of thing keeps happening.

Am I the only one seeing the Irony in that an outrageous tax like this is being posted in Philidephia, the same city where this kind of thing was protested 200 years ago?

I just hope my relatives aren't affected. I have family in the City of Brotherly Bureaucracy, but I don't know if they blog.

Either way, I smell a class-action suit.

This is ridiculous.

Wow... what cunts. Whats next? Gonna try to charge kids mowing lawns for pocket money?

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here