Philly demands bloggers get business licenses

posted at 11:36 am on August 23, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

A few e-mailers have mentioned a connection between my earlier blogger-payola post and the new push by Philadelphia to license bloggers.  They’re not actually the same thing, though.  The danger in the payola story will be that the FEC starts regulating blogs for content, whereas Philly is simply expanding its business-license law to a new form of business:

For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she’s made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it’s a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license. …

It would be one thing if Bess’ website were, well, an actual business, or if the amount of money the city wanted didn’t outpace her earnings six-fold. Sure, the city has its rules; and yes, cash-strapped cities can’t very well ignore potential sources of income. But at the same time, there must be some room for discretion and common sense.

Should there be?  If a city requires a business to get a municipal license in order to operate, should the city exercise discretion on who has to comply?  A blogger that sells advertising and makes money on the transaction is operating a business, whether he or she calls it that or not, and regardless of how much income that business generates.

For instance, when I briefly became a notary public, the state of Minnesota required me to get a business license if I ever charged a client for cash.  In fact, the state pestered me for longer than I held the notary-public license to file quarterly reports on my earnings from the business (of which I had exactly zero, since I only got the license in order to process some paperwork for my employer).

While it’s true that  most blogs don’t make much of a profit, or even income, that’s also true of most start-up businesses that require licenses, too.  Most start-up businesses fail, and most of those eat up a lot more capital than blogs do.  Most larger cities will still require them to get business licenses, even when those businesses operate out of homes rather than storefronts.

Bloggers who want to avoid licensing requirements simply can choose not to monetize their blogging time, which makes it a hobby and not a business activity.  It seems a little churlish for Philly to demand licenses from bloggers who do sell advertising, but then again, perhaps the issue is licensing in general rather than the new focus on bloggers.  If a blogger selling a few ads requires the same kind of a license as a storefront business, then what’s the purpose of either, and what service does it do the community for a city to shake down people attempting to invest in their jurisdiction?


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Next to come – a charge every time you send or receive an e-mail?

Drained Brain on August 23, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Set up a virtual address outside the city limits.

seven on August 23, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Another reason to move away from Filthydelphia.

Asher on August 23, 2010 at 11:41 AM

I agree Ed, this isn’t the same thing as non-disclosure by bloggers…this is just more government rip-off. Damn, I’m sure as soon as DC hears about this we’ll be next…and look out New York and California….

DCJeff on August 23, 2010 at 11:43 AM

The downside of this article is that light bulbs are going on across the country. Politicians will rarely turn down a new opportunity to tax something.

slickwillie2001 on August 23, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Then they will charge you business property tax on your house.

Bishop on August 23, 2010 at 11:45 AM

This is why I live in a Philly burb and not anywhere near the city.

Good Lt on August 23, 2010 at 11:45 AM

No stone left unturned.

a capella on August 23, 2010 at 11:46 AM

As I pointed out in Ed’s previous post, where this topic came up:

I suspect that Ms. Bess could claim that the place of business is where the wordpress.com server exists which serves her website, and that she performs an online commute to that place of business every morning. I’m betting that locale is nowhere near Philadelphia. Unfortunately, such games require a lawyer, and it doesn’t sound like Ms. Bess has the money for one.

unclesmrgol on August 23, 2010 at 11:13 AM

I see a great amount of tax revenue for the first city to offer really cheap business licenses for “online businesses” operating a server in said city. Of course, the city to make the most profit will be a city which is located in a State which has no income tax. A certain city dispised by our current President comes immediately to mind.

Las Vegas, are you ready?

unclesmrgol on August 23, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Get ready to open your wallet, Ed.

They pulled something similar in California about 8 years ago. Anyone making their living by being a writer was told they had to get a business license. Not only are you stuck with a yearly fee, they can also increase your taxes in that you are now a business subject to local taxes on top of your state and federal. The WGA was fighting it for a while but like good little lefties, they rolled over.

Blake on August 23, 2010 at 11:50 AM

I agree with Ed. She made money on her blog. Maybe not big time money, but she pulled in some cash not unlike a small business run from a house might do at the very beginning and they have to comply.

Johnnyreb on August 23, 2010 at 11:51 AM

Step by step…governments realize that blogging represents a clear and present danger to their attempts to control information and knowledge.

MadisonConservative on August 23, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Definitely not the same thing as the content attack, though I suppose it could be used as another avenue to attack a blogger for their content. A city councilor could most definitely look on the tax rolls, see that a blogger attacking them didn’t pay their tax and try to shut them down by taking them to court or what have you.

The part that is most troublesome though is the idea that any government would try to interfere at such a microscopic level in the economy. This type of regulation and specific taxation/licensing/fee DOES chase people away from that economic activity, or chase them underground. The net effect of this is going to be fewer bloggers, or more bloggers evading taxes/fees.

Unlike notary (which actually is a license to act as an agent of the state in a limited way) or many other licensed activities, blogging offers little the government needs to be concerned with that other laws don’t already cover – such as fraud and libel.

So this serves two possible purposes – a) revenue b) control. OR some combination of the two. Since the actual amount of revenue likely from such a scheme is incredibly limited, one has to at least ask one’s self – how might they use this to control others?

In that sense, while it is completley different, it does, conceivably, share a common motive for it’s implementation.

WashingtonsWake on August 23, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Should there be?

Shouldn’t there always be? I’m not sure I agree that advertising automatically amounts to owning a business. If she had received $50 from donations from viewers over the years, the income wouldn’t even be taxed.

I somewhat get the point of this and don’t completely disagree, but I think most think of bloggers more like freelance writers than business owners.

Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM

And cities wonder why they go bankrupt … they chase everybody out but the dregs.

tarpon on August 23, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Oh, and technically, bloggers pay taxes on income anyway. This is an additional blogger tax, it isn’t capturing untaxed moneys it is adding tax obligation on top of current tax obligatoin. Admittedly, most bloggers won’t claim the income, and mostly htat’ sfine because the income levels are well under reporting requirements in most instances. Which makes it all the more obnoxious, troubling and onerous as it crushes a possible small-business out of existence.

WashingtonsWake on August 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Ed, do you operate a business in MPLS, or do you telecommute to Salem HQ (where the ads are sold)?

The Monster on August 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM

I think there are major first amendment implications here. I don’t recall the first amendment saying anything about having to pay a tax to exercise freedom of the press.

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Come to Delaware, home of tax free shopping and a much more business-friendly environment! We’re just a few miles south of Philly.

That’s what a lot of businesses are doing. HIgh taxes is just one of the reasons Philly is hurting (thanks, Rendell!).

UltimateBob on August 23, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Government rules are made so decisions don’t have to be made…it takes the thought process out of it.
Just look at the ridiculous “zero tolerance” laws in schools. a cub scout knife ends up as a suspension…epileptic drugs end up a a suspension…the drawing of a knife, the poem about a gun…it is a cheap way out for government not to have to think about individuals.
The bureaucrats just say “It’s the law”…and be done with it.

right2bright on August 23, 2010 at 11:58 AM

Next up, Philly attempts masturbation taxes. Revenue projections shoot through the roof, but still leave coffers unfulfilled and empty.

Wind Rider on August 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM

It would be symbolic if someone burned down Independence Hall.

Shy Guy on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

She pays the 300 bucks, shows a loss, and qualifies for a government loan…

right2bright on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

The problem for bloggers is they create far less sympathy than a cute little girl selling lemonade.

Mark1971 on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

I think there are major first amendment implications here. I don’t recall the first amendment saying anything about having to pay a tax to exercise freedom of the press.

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM

If there are any here, they wouldn’t just apply to bloggers. News organizations have been paying taxes for decades.

Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Ed, do you operate a business in MPLS, or do you telecommute to Salem HQ (where the ads are sold)?

The Monster on August 23, 2010 at 11:54 AM

I’m an employee of Salem, so I don’t operate a business at all any more. When I did, my town didn’t require me to have a business license for this kind of business.

Ed Morrissey on August 23, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Income taxes are one thing and this blogger would be responsible for them regardless of this new law. Having to pay a tax just for the privilege of exercising a first amendment right is quite another.

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 12:04 PM

This reminds me of the Simpsons episode when Hollywood came to town:

Mayor Quimby: “The, er, city has just passed another tax on puffy directing pants.”

Director: [exasperated] “But I don’t wear puffy pants!”

Mayor Quimby: “I meant a tax on not wearing puffy pants.”

Fuzzlenutter on August 23, 2010 at 12:05 PM

The internet is definitely a threat to those that have controlled the narrative in the past. It must be frustrating for them to see their power eroded…

d1carter on August 23, 2010 at 12:07 PM

The problem for bloggers is they create far less sympathy than a cute little girl selling lemonade.

Mark1971 on August 23, 2010 at 12:00 PM

And if they DARE say anything negative about the Chicago Jesus or his Democratic disciples, then they really become targets.

UltimateBob on August 23, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Well, when one chooses to live in the inner city, run by, and run for looters, what else would one expect?

MNHawk on August 23, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Income taxes are one thing and this blogger would be responsible for them regardless of this new law. Having to pay a tax just for the privilege of exercising a first amendment right is quite another.

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 12:04 PM

I’m not talking about income taxes but specifically the price of this license, unless the New York Times is exempt from paying it.

Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 12:13 PM

The taxmen want to get their grubby fingers on anything and everything they can.

WisCon on August 23, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Do I need a business license for ebay, too?

reaganaut on August 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM

unless the New York Times is exempt from paying it.
Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 12:13 PM

I’m not aware of any taxes or fees the NYT has to pay merely for the privilege of publishing a newspaper.

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 12:20 PM

So much for FREE speech, eh?

la.rt.wngr on August 23, 2010 at 12:26 PM

I’m an employee of Salem, so I don’t operate a business at all any more. When I did, my town didn’t require me to have a business license for this kind of business.

Does your town require Salem to have a license for the business you “conduct” there? If you don’t ship any tangible goods, and customers don’t come to your house, in what meaningful way would Salem be “conducting business” at your house?

And how is it any different for an indie blogger who hopes to pick up a few shekels from ads or Amazon affiliate links? In what way is a Philly-based blogger “conducting business” in the city?

The Monster on August 23, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Sweet links from a major news source, though. Man I envy that site. too bad wordpress hosts it.

lorien1973 on August 23, 2010 at 12:35 PM

reaganaut on August 23, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Technically, yes.

lorien1973 on August 23, 2010 at 12:35 PM

If you can dream it, we can tax it.
(Maryland state motto)

rightside on August 23, 2010 at 12:36 PM

perhaps the issue is licensing in general rather than the new focus on bloggers

+1

Business licenses, as far as I can tell, serve 2 purposes:

1) generate addition revenue for the city
2) allowing existing businesses to lobby government to restrict the # of competitors that can be licensed to limit the amount of competition they have

With some businesses (like contractors, electricians, etc) the city claims they are also protecting you by making sure only qualified people receive a license. However, the cities also make it clear that the license is not any endorsement of the quality of the business’ work. So, which is it? The licenses protect us from bad work or give no indication at all of good/bad work?

None of the above seem to be compelling reasons to make it harder for an entreprenuer to start a business. We have got to do more to make our cities (and our country) business friendly.

JadeNYU on August 23, 2010 at 12:41 PM

(1) How are they going to enforce that law?

and (2)

what service does it do the community for a city to shake down people attempting to invest in their jurisdiction?

No worries, the City of Philadelphia had been doing that (pushing business out) for ages. And we say Thank you, in Delaware.

Sir Napsalot on August 23, 2010 at 12:44 PM

If you can’t show net income for two out of each five years, you run the risk of having your activity declared a hobby and having your losses declared non-deductible by the IRS. And, yet, if you have a hobby of blogging and sell some ads to defray the costs, Philadelphia declares you to be a business and insists you get a business license….

cthulhu on August 23, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Another reason to move away from Filthydelphia.

Asher on August 23, 2010 at 11:41 AM

The parking regulations are enough to keep me away. It’s worse than Chicago.

Tommy_G on August 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM

But at the same time, there must be some room for discretion and common sense.

LOL, The leftists (common sense?)in charge of the great Northeastern cities like Philly?

pffffft.

Wait until they start charging us for every flush on the toilet……naaah, that would never happen (someone make sure this link below doesn’t get sent to Philly’s Water department).

http://www.perthnow.com.au/spend-a-penny-and-be-taxed/story-e6frg4nl-1111118051311

PappyD61 on August 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM

“Should there be? If a city requires a business to get a municipal license in order to operate, should the city exercise discretion on who has to comply?”

Um, lemonade stand, anyone?

Okay, snark aside,

“It seems a little churlish for Philly to demand licenses from bloggers who do sell advertising, but then again, perhaps the issue is licensing in general rather than the new focus on bloggers. If a blogger selling a few ads requires the same kind of a license as a storefront business, then what’s the purpose of either, and what service does it do the community for a city to shake down people attempting to invest in their jurisdiction?”

There are several good reasons for requiring a business license, establishing business name ownership (owner benefit) and preventing being taken by fly-by-nighters (customer benefit), to name two. You may not feel the reasons for are sufficiently important to have the government oversee businesses in this basic a manner, and I can appreciate that and I can also see it dragging over to barbershops in 2 seconds, too. I point it out to note reasons for this particular edifice.

I’d also note that as a business generating income, you have business costs. Ed suggest it’s either income or profits, but there are also losses. It’s an enterprise and the government recognizes the reality of both start-up and potential failure, not just success and the rolling in dough it brings. Philly is opening a can of worms chasing people who make $50 over a few years time because it’s a net negative for the city, state and federal government. That’s why, as cthulhu [on August 23, 2010 at 12:46 PM] notes, the Feds will declare it a hobby if losses are too frequent.

Hmmm, which brings up an interesting question: Why hasn’t General Motors not been declared a hobby?

Dusty on August 23, 2010 at 1:09 PM

If a city requires a business to get a municipal license in order to operate, should the city exercise discretion on who has to comply?

Hmmm. “Discretion” in the form of exempting people from the rules is a dangerous precedent, in that it quickly leads to favoritism and corruption.
On the other hand, isn’t the rational for business licenses the fact that businesses generate ware-and-tare of public facilities (like roads) and cost the city money in terms of making sure the business is on the up and up? If so, none of that really applies to blogging.
Do they go after people that make a living buying and selling on ebay?

Count to 10 on August 23, 2010 at 1:11 PM

MOVE! NOW!!

When one works amongst cattle, expect to get stuff on your boots….

rabidamerican on August 23, 2010 at 1:14 PM

As as freelance writer, I’ve had to get a business license from the local municipality. However, the license fee is based on income, and in fact, is free for annual income under $50,000.

What makes the Philly situation ridiculous is the flat fee which is out of proportion to small and start-up businesss= incomes, espcially in an economy where you’d think they would want to encourage as many start-ups as possible. But then, if the city’s administrators had common sense, the city wouldn’t be in such dire financial straights to begin with.

CJ on August 23, 2010 at 1:16 PM

I’m not aware of any taxes or fees the NYT has to pay merely for the privilege of publishing a newspaper.

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I’m not aware of any exemptions they have when it comes to getting a business license.

Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Would a blogger tax or email tax, or a LINK tax prevent the word like this (audio on the GZMosque Imam) from getting out?

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=38673

PappyD61 on August 23, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Absolute horse crap.

This is nothing more than an example of a liberal city that’s being run into the ground by it’s own policies, looking to not only shake down anyone that would speak out against their establishment, as well as an effort to quash free speech.

Liberal cities and states are like a contagion; once one (like California) passes some stupid legislation, then other leftist states (like NY, for example), upon seeing the success in oppressing the people for cash, rush to take up that same legislation. With a Canadian idiot like Granholm in Michigan, I’m very certain she’s looking at this un-Constitutional legislation and salivating. Not only can she bring the state a step closer to becoming more like her own nation (Canada), but she can make cash and suppress resistance, simultaneously.

Virus-X on August 23, 2010 at 1:35 PM

I think you’re a little too sanguine about this, Ed. Once the city decides bloggers must have a speech, er, business license, the next logical step is to refuse to license certain bloggers. Or withdraw their licenses for capricious reasons. Or audit them for alleged non-compliance. And you can bet that just about everyone will be non-compliant, somehow, since they’re tossing random people with Amazon affiliate accounts into the grinding maw of business tax laws.

GalosGann on August 23, 2010 at 1:37 PM

The taxman cometh!

Oldnuke on August 23, 2010 at 2:08 PM

and yes, cash-strapped cities can’t very well ignore potential sources of income.

Citizen? No, too formal and possibly anti-American.
Taxpayer? Accurate, but not demeaning enough.
Potential Sources of Income? YES! Truthful and condescending at the same time!

Don’t all of you just love being refered to as potential sources of income? Warms the heart it does. :)

Onus on August 23, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Considering the internet is international, how exactly does the city expect to control bloggers whose work appears in the city? If they are going after folk who actually operate from there, well, perhaps folk living in places that abuse them deserve what they get.

In all seriousness…the proper response to the cities extortion is to simply shred the demand.

I suspect the city simply does not have enough thugs to go after any significant number of folk blogging there.

There is also the question of taxing a 1st amendment right. Taxation is a type of control.

JIMV on August 23, 2010 at 2:14 PM

This is why I refuse to work in Philadelphia, that is, any Philadelphia zip code area. I have a large customer base in the surrounding counties in which I do my work. The principle of having to have a special business license to tune someone’s piano in Philadelphia, as well as having to pay their confiscatory wage tax, keeps me well entrenched in the suburbs. And let’s not even begin to talk about the cost of parking, the potential for vandalism, and worse. Nope. I’m staying put and passing the work onto a guy I know that actually lives in the city and actually deals with all this crap, God bless him.

Pilgrimsarbour on August 23, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Nice Yard Sale you’re running here Ma’am, did you buy your $500 small business license, or will I have to fine you $2,500 on the $150 you made today?

While it’s true that most blogs Yard Sales don’t make much of a profit, or even income, that’s also true of most start-up businesses that require licenses, too. Most start-up businesses fail, and most of those eat up a lot more capital than blogs do. Most larger cities will still require them to get business licenses, even when those businesses operate out of homes rather than storefronts.

Does this statement still work? I mean your yard/garage sale is clearly selling stuff for money; why wouldn’t you need a business license that costs more than you’re ever likely to make at said Yard Sale?

gekkobear on August 23, 2010 at 2:23 PM

I think revenge is underrated as a source of social control and as a source of personal satisfaction. The vindictive thing to do in this case would be to move out of Philadelphia and begin blogging Philadelphia’s daily loss of sales and tax revenue due to one’s departure.

Kralizec on August 23, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Should there be? If a city requires a business to get a municipal license in order to operate, should the city exercise discretion on who has to comply? A blogger that sells advertising and makes money on the transaction is operating a business, whether he or she calls it that or not, and regardless of how much income that business generates.
For instance, when I briefly became a notary public, the state of Minnesota required me to get a business license if I ever charged a client for cash. In fact, the state pestered me for longer than I held the notary-public license to file quarterly reports on my earnings from the business (of which I had exactly zero, since I only got the license in order to process some paperwork for my employer).

Focusing like a laser beam on the narrower point, Ed misses his opportunity again to point out how much of a barrier to entry and deterrent to competition occupational licenses are, through their expense, annoyance, capacity to place one on the wrong side of the law, and their revocability. Fortunately, you have me, to make the larger point for him.

Kralizec on August 23, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Solution:

Use servers out of Penn (which most are – GoDaddy, 1and1, etc) and use a proxy server for masking your IP addy.

Considering I travel to Penn for business – will they tax my “writings” on my company computer for an out of state business whilst sitting in a Philly hotel????

Dont think so.

Odie1941 on August 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM

I’m not aware of any exemptions they have when it comes to getting a business license.
Esthier on August 23, 2010 at 1:19 PM

What business license do they have to “get”? Does NYC require every income producing activity to obtain a generic “business license”?

tommyboy on August 23, 2010 at 3:12 PM

I’m pretty strongly against requiring business licenses for basic blogs…

BUT…

if you are paying such a business license fee for the purposes of operating a business whose product is producing the written word, then any claims by anyone that you are somehow distinct from “professional media” and not due the same protections are moot, no?

dougwinship on August 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Yes, this is a good time to revisit the entire concept of “business license”, as well as “occupational license”.

And there is potential for much mischief when “licensing” a “business” where the only product is speech.

I understand that a certain city in Kansas (which I shall not name) has some nasty taxes on newspapers, which the existing paper is grandfathered out of. This, of course, prevents any competition to the existing paper from coming in. It also keeps the existing paper in line, lest the city revoke the grandfather clause.

I can see a need for some regulation of business, but how much and what kind needs to be debated.

LarryD on August 23, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I apologize for this:

Hey, Philadelphia, go fxxx yourselves!

patch on August 23, 2010 at 6:20 PM

If she tried to claim the cost of the license as a business expense on her taxes, the IRS would certainly not concede that it is a business.

hicsuget on August 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

My biggest problem here is that this is one of the few areas where conservatives may actually have the advantage over the lefties. And asking, for instance, a middle-aged mom who does this in her spare time on the computer in the basement to cough up hundreds of dollars for this privilege is a sure-fire way to put the boot on the throat of conservative speech in this country.
I started blogging right around Joe the Plumber time, when it was obvious everyone was against him and virtually no media outlets had anything good to say about him. Then came Palin, who was trashed left and right, called stupid and a bimbo and by that time I was ready to blow up.
I grabbed a blog and started venting. I make little off of it, but I feel very strongly that we need a lot of outlets together shouting over the din of the mass media to make a dent. When too many people hear “Palin is stupid” and “Joe the Plumber is a tax cheat” with no alternative, ever, it crushes the spirit of the conservative cause.
We need blogs out there as an alternative voice so middle America can say, “Hmmm…. yeah, you’re right. Why isn’t anyone else saying that?”
If I’m told to pay a couple of hundred dollars, I won’t give up my blog, but I know plenty of people who would. And that has to potential to be devastating to our message.

12thMonkey on August 23, 2010 at 7:06 PM

I think my reaction to this one would be the same as when my county tried to collect a “paper clip tax.”

Some firm came in and convinced the county that partially used reams of paper, pencils, pens, scotch tape, etc. were business property and therefore taxable. Naturally, the ‘helpful’ firm selling this idea would sell their services to collect this extra tax, taking a cut for themselves.

When they contacted me to demand that we declare our pencils, pens, paper clips, etc. I told them we were declaring zero. “But you surely have something in your desk drawer!”, they protested. I told them I didn’t have time for such foolishness, but that we would welcome them to come spend their time and inventory all of that kind of stuff they could find, and we would sign off and pay the tax on the ‘extra’ inventory if we agreed with their list.

Predictably, nobody ever showed up to count our paper clips.

Within two years, the ‘paper clip tax,’ had become the butt of jokes and feature stories about businesses stripping all the decorations out of the lobby (they tried to tax pictures hanging on the wall, too). Embarassed by this kind of publicity, the county finally fired the outside firm, repealed the tax, and even added a prohibition against ever taxing any item under $1500 again.

landlines on August 23, 2010 at 7:24 PM

If she runs it as a business, she can deduct the expenses related to writing her blog (books, magazines, portion of her in Internet connection, computer costs, etc.) and would show a loss.

But someone earning $50 a year on a blog shouldn’t have to create a formal business, get a license, and jump through hoops of red tape. Just like people having a garage sale or doing some occasional babysitting or selling cookies at a school function shouldn’t have to set themselves up as a business. There should be some low level of “hobby” income allowed before the government sinks its claws into you.

Cara C on August 23, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Next up, Philly attempts masturbation taxes. Revenue projections shoot through the roof, but still leave coffers unfulfilled and empty.

Wind Rider on August 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM

They can have all the proceeds, as far as I’m concerned.

Side note, if you can shoot through the roof…well done!

James on August 24, 2010 at 3:03 AM

Why not just make sure your web host is based somewhere other than Philadelphia? And if you incorporate or set up a LLC, make sure you do so in Delaware or some other business-friendly state.

Problem solved!

The nice thing about the Internet is that you can base your business anywhere…and move it at a moments notice!

landlines on August 24, 2010 at 10:38 AM