Debating Philadelphia's $300 'Blog Tax'

City requiring any blogger who sells ads to pay for a license

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The city of Philadelphia is now requiring bloggers who sell ad space to register for a $300 "business privilege license" to continue working in the city. The move to bolster the city's finances--first reported by the Philadelphia City Paper--was greeted with deep skepticism. Here's a sampling of responses:

  • $300 Far Too High  The city's rationale for demanding the tax is understandable, writes Technorati's Alex Priest. "The city's budget is screwed, everyone is in the red, tax revenue is down, yada, yada, yada." It's the amount of the tax he thinks is wrongheaded. Priest writes that a $300 licensing fee is"outrageous and inexplicable in almost any context," especially when applied to bloggers who "99.9% of the time, aren't making any money anyway."
  • Not as Unreasonable as it Looks  The fact the city requires freelance writers to pay the same fee shows that bloggers aren't being singled out, contends FireDogLake. "Bloggers aren't being unfairly targeted," they write. Rather, "anyone conducting any form if financial transaction is being targeted."
  • How Angry Bloggers Should Respond  New York Magazine's Nate Freeman suggests outraged Philly bloggers eschew ad services like Google AdSense as a way of protesting the fee. Sure, "the minimal profits that once came rolling in will dry up," a fact Freeman believes is outweighed by the "self-satisfaction of refusing to give the city that hard-earned blog revenue." 
  • Will Affect Very Few Bloggers  Mashable's Christina Warren puts the fee in context. "It isn’t like they are doing full-scale audits for every person in Philly who runs a blog with ads," Warren notes. The only people the crackdown will have a "real-world impact on" are amateur bloggers who "report their blogging income on their individual income tax return." So, in other words, very few people.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.