You Need a $300 License to Blog!?!?

Written by Zac Johnson
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Yes, it’s true my friend. The cash strapped country is now taking to the blogging community for their next source of funds to blow. The first city on the list is Philadelphia, which has already sent out an undisclosed amount of documents to bloggers of all sizes to fork over $300 for a lifetime blogging license. To make things worse, a great majority of these bloggers aren’t even making over $300 with their blogging efforts. Many only making a few dollars a year, but are still required to fork over $300 for their blogger license.

In an article released by CityPaper, Bess is interviewed about her minimal blogging with eHow.com and her own personal, and the $300 blogger license letter she received from the state. Bess says:

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,“.

Don’t think your blog is making enough money to be considered a business? An interesting statement from the article states:

“According to Andrea Mannino of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in fact, simply choosing the option to make money from ads — regardless of how much or little money is actually generated — qualifies a blog as a business. The same rules apply to freelance writers.”

While a $300 blogger license may not seem like a lot to full time established bloggers, how about the millions of bloggers hosted on free services like Blogspot and WordPress? Both of these services use ad serving on their sites, so all of these bloggers are potential targets. There is a wide range of speculation and questions to be answered here.

I’m sure this is only the beginning. Once the other states and law makers get wind of Philadelphia cashing in on bloggers, it will spread across the country like wildfire.

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39 Replies to “You Need a $300 License to Blog!?!?”

  1. Here's something that I know doesn't sound right…

    "The first state on the list is Philadelphia"

    Somebody please tell me that Philly isn't a state of its own now… right?

  2. That's crazy to make a blogger pay a business license for blogging. Next they will try and go after people who have facebook, myspace and twitter accounts because of people who micro blog. Zac you also stated Philidelphia as a state is a City. The first state on the list is Philadelphia

  3. Do people even read the article? It is not a $300 license to blog, its a $300 license to make money off of a blog.

    While it is dumb that a license fee is the same cost if you have profits of $1 or $10,000, that doesn't make this in any way a free speech issue.

  4. <a class="replyTo" href="#comment-119689" rel="nofollow">@Frank:

    This will still apply to the majority of blogs out there. Whether it's adsense, affiliate or ads for hosting, almost all blogs have an ad somewhere.

  5. Well if they were honest enough to report the income they also probably deducted all the losses. I hate to say it but paying the $300 is probably worth the ability to deduct your internet, home office, computer, etc. You can deduct losses for 5 years so it shouldn't be too much trouble to off set a lot more than $300 in fees.

  6. @Zak

    Ok this is bullshit! A blogging license? Now I do have a question, how the heck could they enforce this? Just be anonymous! Heck I could probably double my income if this was actually enforced in any big city. (evil chuckle), Hint: Heck if the whole US did something like this I would just "move somewhere else" – not actually though

  7. Technically any money coming in from a hobby or side business makes you a sole proprietor unless you created a different tax structure for your business. It doesn't matter how little profit you make (making $50 / year is much better than losing thousands,) you still need to declare that income and go through the proper business legal hoops.

    As mentioned in another comment, you only need to pay taxes on profits and certain expenses can be written off for a home business. Unfortunately, you would also likely need an accountant to sort all this out. Most bloggers are likely making so little money from ads that writing all this stuff off still wouldn't cover the expenses and the headaches.

  8. $300 would prevent many people from starting a blog. But really it is less than a dollar a day per year.

  9. What a brutal move. Unfortunately other cash strapped cities are bound to follow suit. I'm just curious whether they are only targeting bloggers. What about people who run other types of websites or other related internet businesses? Are they also going to demand business licenses from the neighborhood kid's lemonade stand?

  10. Last time I check tax code (of which I know Nothing) you have to have income to offset those deductions. You ASSUME everyone is making $$$$. If you are only making a few dollars here and there, pocket money the deductions are not going to work… This is another feeble try to milk the internet as if the tax dollars are not enough to squander.

  11. Well, what'll they think of next to continue sucking the country dry. I just started blogging recently due to a couple of heart attacks, and couldn't return to my regular job (lifting restrictions) for a year. In this wonderful economy the company has since gone out of business. When the Dr. cleared me to return to work I was all for it.

    Big mistake! I could no longer collect my disability, rightfully so. I also didn't qualify for unemployment because I hadn't worked for 14 months!

    Can I offset $300 in fee's? Probably so, but it's already enough of a struggle obviously.

    Ever since the internet took hold as a commerce route, every govt. sleazebag and their political leaders have been trying to figure out a way to tax it. Tax, Tax, Tax.

    Sad part is, it won't end here.

  12. @Don: Furthermore it is not about honesty because if you are not a crook entering into politics it is just a matter of time before the association rule catches up to you! The minds of Wannabe "successful" businessmen like you are the breeding ground for corruption. "You don't have to believe me because I say it Believe me because you checked it out for yourself."

  13. <a class="replyTo" href="#comment-119695" rel="nofollow">@Aarron:

    As for enforcement.. it brings up an interesting topic, such as subpoenaing wordpress/blogspot related sites to get the owner information? I'm not sure how they collected the ownership information. I'm sure more will come out soon on it.

  14. How exactly are they going to prove that a blogger is from Philadelphia?It sounds like a very costly policy to pursue if they are indeed serious.

  15. This is a joke … the internet should be FREE and only cost you to setup. This will stop a lot of other blogs starting…. at least im not in the US

  16. So ridiculous… So if you have ads on a site but you don't have a business title, business account or business name they want you to pay up..

    Whatever happen to land of the free.

  17. Rhode Island has already been hit with an affiliate tax. This is just sick. Now more people are going to know what it's like for someone on welfare trying to get off of it while being called a lazy bum! lmao… everytime u take two steps to improve your situation, you are knocked back , while the govt pick up the pieces that are left of your ass!

  18. Is the City of Philadelphia Government a developer of any of the blog platforms software out there?

    If they are not…how come their residents have to pay for a blog license to the city?

    Their business is to collect taxes from the resident who owns the business regardless of what software he or she uses to build the website.

    The “developers” of… WordPress's, Blogspot and the other blog’s software platforms out there…should “SUE” the City of Philadelphia Government for this…because the $300.00 license fee should go to their pockets. Where are their lawyers????

    And… the City of Philadelphia also should know that the blog platforms come from very responsible developers – they put lots of effort in the software innovation – with no charge to us – they are generous!

    This is what I think!

  19. Actually, they're already are some other cities charging fees for things like this, though much lower fees, one of those cities being Washington DC. I think it's a stupid law, but then again I live in New York where they now charge tax on you a few by a bagel and cut it open in an establishment. I hope this is one tax that no city in this state tries to pass, but since I already have a New York state business license I expect that I'm already covered. At least I hope so.

  20. It does seem a bit silly at face value – but by paying the $300 you are declaring it as a "business" so the deductions would usually far outweigh the $300. Therefore Philadelphia are really getting the $300 from the tax man.

    Wonder how long before it catches on here in Australia.

    Allan and Dawn

  21. This is extremely NOT COOL! But just like everything else in the so-called free world, they always seem to find a way to charge us. We ca either pay it, rebel, or stop blogging.

    The old schoolers where I am from have a term for this and it is called

    <q cite="">a racket!</cite>

    In trying to find a positive spin on this I can only say that at least it will be considered a business expense or will it?

  22. @Allan and Dawn:

    Depends on who gets Govt….if it is Tony Abbots mob, he will have to cover that $4Billion dollar black hole somehow 🙂

    Seriously though, this just goes to show the desperation that our 'city / country' Fathers have gone to in order to raise funds for their superannuation or redundancy pay-offs. Ooops..sorry, payouts.

    Also, it also shows how closely the internet is being monitored. For a place of 'free speech' to me it is shrieking 'be careful' in what you say and do, they are watching and listening.

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