Apparently, the city of Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was written and where America was born, wants to slap a $300 “business privilege license” for bloggers, whether they make money on their blogs or not.
Philadelphia also wants a tax for any money made on a blog, say for advertising, no matter how small.
Philadelphia City Paper recounts the experience of Marilyn Bess, a small-time blogger who is being dunned for big-time money.
“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.
“‘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,’ Bess says.
“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.
“When Bess pressed her case to officials with the city’s now-closed tax amnesty program, she says, ‘I was told to hire an accountant.”
Words almost fail one about how monstrous the highwayman attitude that the city of Philadelphia is taking. In effect, Philadelphia is demanding people pay more in taxes than they actually earn. That is not a sensible tax policy. That is something that would affront the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Over in Independence Hall, the ghost of John Adam is rapping his cane on the floor and muttering, “Incredible!” One wonders if a case could be made for the city of Philadelphia trying to inhibit free speech by taxing it out of existence.
Philadelphia is hardly the only offender going after small fries for extra cash. There was the case in Portland, Oregon, where a little girl had her lemonade stand shut down for lack of a “temporary restaurant license.”
Here is a helpful suggestion for governments, whether they are local, state, or federal. How about cutting some spending before, in effect, grabbing people like Marilyn Bess, turning her upside down, and shaking her for spare change? How about encouraging small business, even if it is hobby and not really a business? It would seem to be common sense, something lacking in government these days.
Pay Up: Got a blog that makes no money? The city wants $300, thank you very much, Valerie Rubinsky, Philadelphia City Paper, August 18th, 2010
Portland Authorities Shut Down Julie Murphy’s (Age 7) Lemonade Stand, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, August 6th, 2010