Even though small-time bloggers aren’t exactly raking in the dough, the city requires privilege licenses for any business engaged in any “activity for profit,” says tax attorney Michael Mandale of Center City law firm Mandale Kaufmann. This applies “whether or not they earned a profit during the preceding year,” he adds.
So even if your blog collects a handful of hits a day, as long as there’s the potential for it to be lucrative — and, as Mandale points out, most hosting sites set aside space for bloggers to sell advertising — the city thinks you should cut it a check. 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. The same rules apply to freelance writers. As former City Paper news editor Doron Taussig once lamented [Slant, “Taxed Out,” April 28, 2005], the city considers freelancers — which both Bess and Barry are, in addition to their blog work — “businesses,” and requires them to pay for a license and pay taxes on their profits, on top of their state and federal taxes.
I’m sure that the local Democratic party leaders will be happy enough to explain why it’s vitally necessary to hit up individual folks for licenses to (among other things) blog – and why it’s vitally important to concentrate on the ‘law’ part of ‘boneheaded law,’ and ignore ‘boneheaded’ completely – but out here in Real-Person Land the phrase “absurd nonsense” comes to mind.
Via Mark Hemingway, who points out,
To say that these kinds of draconian measures are detrimental to the public discourse would be an understatement.
Particularly when you consider that most bloggers don’t even make $300 in a year.
Investor’s Business Daily has an editorial on it Abridging Too Far