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Philly Levies a 'Blog Tax'

August 23, 2010

The Internet was supposed to provide everybody with their own platform for free speech, and that’s fine with the city of Philadelphia, as long as local bloggers are willing to pay $300 for a “business privilege license” in case they hope to earn any money.

The fee, dubbed the “blog tax” by some irate bloggers, is also charged to free-lance writers and practically any small business by the City of Brotherly Love. But the fee is especially rankling to local bloggers, few of whom manage to make much money, according to the Philadelphia City Paper.

On top of the $300 license fee, they are also expected to pay wage taxes, business privilege taxes, and net profits taxes. The business privilege license fee also applies to businesses that are located outside the Philadelphia city limits but do some or all of their business activities in the city.

The city, facing a considerable budget deficit like most cities across the country, insists that it’s entitled to the $300, even if a blog earns less than the amount of the license fee. Bloggers who report any income related to their blogging have been receiving letters from the city demanding that they pay for the licenses, even if they’ve only made about $11 in over two years.

However, according to the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, any blogger who opts to earn money from ads on their site, as many blogs do by default on many blog-hosting services, needs to pay the tax. When one blogger complained to the department about the charge, she was told to hire an accountant.

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