Philly requiring bloggers to pay $300 for a business license

It looks like cash hungry local governments are getting awfully rapacious these days:

Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she’s made about $50. To [Marilyn] 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.”

She’s not alone. After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year, a number — though no one knows exactly what that number is — of Philadelphia bloggers were dispatched letters informing them that they owe $300 for a privilege license, plus taxes on any profits they made.

Even if, as with Sean Barry, that profit is $11 over two years.

To say that these kinds of draconian measures are detrimental to the public discourse would be an understatement.

Follow the Washington Examiner on Facebook

Beltway Confidentialfree speechtaxesUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

DA drops charges against man seen in video of officer using knee restraint

Footage leads to calls for SF police to explicity ban move used in death of George Floyd

SF mayor to end curfew after Wednesday night

Breed: ‘We know that the overwhelming majority of people out protesting are doing so peacefully’

New charges announced against former police officers over George Floyd death

By Molly O’Toole, Elliot Wailoo and Erin B. Logan Los Angeles Times… Continue reading

Bayview charter school sues SFUSD for more classroom space

Nonprofit calls proposed Treasure Island move a ‘bad faith offer’

Supes move to reject Breed’s picks for police oversight body, call for strong reformers

Ronen, Mar cite qualification concerns in voting against Police Commission nominees

Most Read