Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Philadelphia Sees Profit Potential in Bloggers

To all of my fellow bloggers out there -- before you type your next post, make sure that you are ready to pay for the right to express your opinion or share your hobby on the internet. If you live in a city like Philadelphia, you may find yourself the recipient of a letter asking for a substantial fee to remain in good standing with the purchase of a business license.

For those who have not read the news that has writers and First Amendment scholars everywhere debating its implications, cash-strapped Philadelphia now plans to go after the bloggers who live within its city limits and demand payment of $300 for a home business license. This fee will apply to any blog that posts ads alongside its content or has some other potential for profit on the site.

Apparently, Philadelphia's Department of Revenue came up with the money-making idea after several bloggers in the city did follow the letter of the law and report their websites to the IRS. These records raised a flag of interest to those in power, and soon letters went out in search of those who did not voluntarily record their blog earnings, however meager, with the taxman.

In my third novel, Tuey's Course, the title character becomes frustrated with a local government that seems to enjoy creating ordinances that will irritate and hurt the "little people" of their town. And, this blog previously has reported on several other real-life instances of government officials taking their power too far.

What do you think about the license that is now being required for bloggers in Philadelphia? Is this a violation of free speech? Or, is the city just applying its laws equally to all citizens and businesses?


Anonymous said...

Staggering! Thx for sharing this story.

Lynn Hallbrooks said...

Let me preface this by saying, I'm not a political person...that's my co-author. I think that the advertisement next to the blog should be taxed by the company providing that service. I don't have advertising on our blog so maybe I'm mistaken of the way things work. That's my penny's worth.

Patricia said...

Am not clear about one point. Does Philadelphia also intend to raise money from bloggers who do not make a cent from their blog? Or only for those running a blog about, say, their school sports team gossips that is intended only for their schoolmates...