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Philadelphia to Bloggers: Pay Us!

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Philadelphia—the beleaguered City of Brotherly Love—is no stranger to austerity measures. Last month, Mayor Michael Nutter announced $27 million in budget cuts. That was on top of $20 million agreed to in May.

Hit hardest by the cuts were all the usual suspects—police, firefighters, and librarians. But add to that list another class of workers whose contributions to urban life are second to none.


The city has started to demand that bloggers who have made money—any amount—from their blog purchase a $300 business privilege license.

From Philly’s City Paper:

“After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year…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 [blogger] Sean Barry, that profit is $11 over two years.”

Naturally, most blogs make virtually nothing on advertising. But, as City Paper points out, “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.”

Okay, two ways to look this. Let’s start with the glass half empty.

First off, for the millions upon millions of bloggers out there, having to purchase a business license and pay taxes on virtually non-existent income might dissuade them from ever writing as a hobby ever again. Secondly, is Philly so screwed that this actually seems like an effective revenue generating avenue?

Alas! If we see the glass as half-full, there is indeed a silver lining.

Everyone knows that small businesses are the driving force of the US economy. And the current state of small business growth ain’t exactly rosy. But if we start to classify every blog—and there about 133 million of them out there-- as a small business, we can kiss this recession goodbye for good.

Thanks, Philadelphia! Always thinkin’….
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.