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Philly Requiring Bloggers To Pay $300

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the blood-from-blogger dept.

Government 456

Kurofuneparry writes "Pennsylvania generally and Philadelphia specifically have had a number of budget issues and some bloggers are seeing the results. From the article: '... 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.'"

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Not all bloggers, just those that make money (5, Insightful)

odies (1869886) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340196)

So she says he runs a blog with ads and profits from, but is surprised that she actually needs to pay taxes and the other usual legistation while running a business? Yes, just like the Google, IGN or other huge sites on the internet that make money by advertising, he is also running a business.

It also looks like she only made like $50 between several years. That comes down to like $1-2 a month. Why not just drop the ads and continue blogging? If you really need a few dollars, just find a few bottles from the street and return them to stores.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340226)

The problem is that on her taxes, she was asked to list all sources of income. She was honest and listed the blog. Now, she's basically being punished for being honest.

This is like the kid's lemonade stand that got shut down by the health department in Washington or Oregon earlier this month.

There needs to be a little common-sense applied to the operation of governments.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

aliddell (1716018) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340278)

It was California [fresnobeehive.com] .

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340360)

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340592)

Keep your public outrage. It's not like we're talking about a small front-lawn lemonade stand. The kid made almost 2000$. At 50c each, that amounts to 4000+ sold drinks. Plus the stand was on a public fair (regularly if I understand it correctly). At that volume it is reasonable to start to apply professional rules.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (4, Insightful)

stdarg (456557) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340790)

Sounds more like the kid needs to be congratulated and helped. Rather than shut the girl's "business" down, why didn't the government do something like help her come up to code? It would have been a much better public relations maneuver.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33341008)

Until, people start winding up at the hospital with food poisoning. The rules surrounding food distribution exist for a very good reason. If you've ever suffered the effects of food poisoning you'd understand why it's so serious.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (4, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340990)

The kid made the money *after* they tried to shut her down, and the local businesses stepped in and gave her tons and tons of free publicity. Until her lemonade stand hit the papers, she was just another kid making a few $ a day.

RTFM - Les Schwab and a TV station stepped in and promoted her.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340284)

She's not being punished for being honest, she's being expected to follow the same rules as everyone else. If you want to run a business, you need to have a license and pay taxes on your income. If your business doesn't make enough money to cover the license and taxes, don't run the business. If I were to open a store, and it was massively unsuccessful and only brought in a few dollars, would I suddenly be exempt from needing a license and paying taxes?

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340354)

So all she has to do is say that her server, where the "business" is actually located, is hosted outside the US and GTFO!

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Informative)

Kalidor (94097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340624)

Sadly, this won't work if she's a citizen and not a greencard holder. The US is one of the countries that taxes income based on both citizenship AND residency.

Doesn't matter if you are outside of the US, the IRS will ask for it's cut unless you are in a country that has a tax treaty with the US (and you fall within the terms of said treaty). Even then, most of the treaties require proof of payment with respect to the taxes due in the other country or the IRS still takes a cut.

If you are in a country without a tax treaty, then you are out of luck as most countries tax based on residency, therefor you are double taxed by the country where the work is done, and the US.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Insightful)

KindMind (897865) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340806)

Taxes are one thing - I agree with you there. But the business license is based on where the business is. If the hosted content is outside the Philadelphia area, I don't see how they could enforce a business license. Like if I live in Philadelphia, but I own an auto parts business in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia can't charge me for a business license. I don't see how this is any different. On a side note, how does Philadelphia even know what she paid in taxes? That should be confidential information between her and the state and the IRS.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340888)

On a side note, how does Philadelphia even know what she paid in taxes? That should be confidential information between her and the state and the IRS.

It's not. States and the Federal Government report details from your income tax return to local authorities all the time. How else do you suppose they know when to hold the tax returns of deadbeat Dads or those that owe property taxes?

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340992)

But as the parent poster pointed out, Philly can't tax assets that aren't located in it's jurisdiction. This isn't an "income" tax, it's a business license - and the "business" is hosted outside Philly's physical boundaries - all the transactions take place elsewhere. It's like you own a store in Alamo, Texas, and Philly wants to charge you a business license. There's no legal basis.

Also, there's a First Amendment issue. This will definitely have a chilling effect on free speech.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Insightful)

stephathome (1862868) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340952)

She's doing business in Philadelphia by doing the work of blogging there. No matter where she's hosted, her physical presence while working on her blog counts for something.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340698)

She'll probably also have to prove she does the majority of her blogging elsewhere as well. On the plus side, she should see about claiming her computer and office space as a business expense.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340424)

running ads on a website does not make one a business.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340550)

Why not? Because you say so? You're offering a service in exchange for money, sounds a lot like a business to me.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (5, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340602)

Have you ever sold a book on Amazon? Or a knick-knack on eBay? Or run a website with ads? Or held a garage sale? Or sold a couch on Craigslist?

Those are all sources of income and you are required, by law, to report them. And if you did so in Philly, you would be required to buy a $300 business license.

But most of us don't bother to report such small transactions, so yes, she is being punished for her honesty.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (5, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340328)

Some governments have common sense -- I'm about to shut down my NJ photography "business" because I make less annually than the minimum amount where a business ID is required. Below that, it's legally a "hobby that makes money." You still owe income tax on the profits, but don't need to handle any extra paperwork. Blogging really should be the same...

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340482)

There needs to be a little common-sense applied to the operation of governments.

No, there need to be fewer and better thought out laws. A blanket $300 tax on any blog that makes money, for example, is not well thought out -- a better strategy would be a tax on blogs that turn more than, say, $1000/yr. in revenue, or perhaps a tax that cannot exceed the amount of money a blog made. Or perhaps not taxing blogs, and looking at other ways to reduce the budget gap (perhaps spending less on drug enforcement and other nonviolent crimes).

Of course, there may be other things at work here. Like, lawmakers assuming that people fit into neat categories, and then passing laws that essentially enforce those categories.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340708)

Now, she's basically being punished for being honest.

Indeed. Here in the UK her local tax office would probably tell her not to bother with a tax return* whilst technically she could be counted as self employed so would probably need to file one, it would end up costing more to collect the tax than they recovered.

*Most people here don't need to [hmrc.gov.uk] fill in a tax return as tax is collected through PAYE [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340286)

No, this is ridiculous. I hope she fights this in court and doesn't capitulate.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340290)

but is surprised that she actually needs to pay taxes and the other usual legistation while running a business?

Taxes are assessed as a percentage of your income in most cases. In this instance the city wants to compel her to obtain a "business license" and pay $300 for the privilege, regardless of the fact that the "business" in question didn't even gross that much income. It seems absurd that one should have to get permission from the city before one can write a blog on their home computer.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1, Insightful)

odies (1869886) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340368)

It seems absurd that one should have to get permission from the city before one can write a blog on their home computer.

No one is saying you can't run a blog, or that you would need to get a permission. You just need to get a business license if you're making money with it, just like any other business. Just don't put ads on it and no one is asking you that $300.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (-1, Redundant)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340442)

That's a bunch of crap.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340970)

That's a bunch of crap.

What insight you have. Love the deep analysis. I can't wait to see you modded +5.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340518)

You just need to get a business license if you're making money with it

That's absurd. Business licenses should only exist to generate the revenue required to regulate businesses that can harm the public. As an example, restaurants require safety inspections to ensure that they are preparing their food in a safe manner. Those inspections cost money. Requiring them to obtain a license to offset the cost of these inspections makes sense.

In this instance it's just silly. A blog can harm no one. It can't cause your street traffic to increase or your property values to go down as a brick and mortar business can. Government regulation is neither needed nor permissible in this case.

She can pay income taxes on her blog ads without needing a business license. I'm sorry, but I just don't see a way you can defend the requirement that someone obtain an expensive license from the city before they can publish their thoughts on the world wide web.....

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340710)

or that you would need to get a permission

What do you think the word license [wikipedia.org] means?

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Interesting)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340886)

You should only need a business license if you are a business. It is perfectly legal to declare this small amount of income as personal income and pay normal taxes on it. In fact, the IRS would prefer it that way and may not even allow you to declare this as a business if you tried. The cities employees causing this problem are clearly ignorant of the applicable laws.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (5, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340438)

It's not absurd, it's restraint on speech. To say that you need a business license to use your free speech rights if that earns you a dollar is just absurd. There is likely an income threshold where a business license isn't needed if you don't make enough money.

She needs a lawyer. If the state laws in PA really are that fucked up and she needs a business license, she could take it to court and it will likely be found unconstitutional.

If she does get the business license though, she can now write off all business expenses including the time she used to write in the blog. That includes a percentage of her home bills that are a needed as a part of the business.

Her federal taxable income will go way down and she will be eligible for small business tax deductions and credits.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340620)

It's not absurd, it's restraint on speech. To say that you need a business license to use your free speech rights if that earns you a dollar is just absurd.

It would be absurd - If this were actually a restraint on speech. If she dropped the ads (and thus the profits), she wouldn't have to get a business license, and would still have a blog with full free speech rights.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340652)

If she dropped the ads (and thus the revenue that doesn't even fully offset the cost of hosting)

FTFY

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Interesting)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340836)

Net Income != Profits. She probably didn't make enough to pay for her hosting. Perhaps we need to go back to the model where people get free hosting in exchange for a 3rd party putting ads on the site. Then Bloggers can blog without having to report the "income" of trying to cover some of their expenses.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (4, Informative)

sglewis100 (916818) | more than 4 years ago | (#33341020)

Net Income != Profits.

True, but not relevant. When I formed an LLC for my consulting side practice, nobody asked me if I had clients. Presumably, they could care less. Either way, I had to pay the cost of filing.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Interesting)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340492)

I seems absurd that one can operate a webpage that serves advertisements that don't generate enough review to afford basic cost-of-business fees.

If I sold cupcakes from my kitchen, but only earned $50/year... I may not stop making cupcakes but I'd throw in the towel pretending that I'm operating a business.

To bloggers who make a pittance serving ads on their blogs... TAKE THOSE ADS DOWN!

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340808)

Google ads: Ads are non-intrusive & easily blocked by ad blockers. Cost to me to put them up: $0.00. Hey, $50 is $50!

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340928)

This is offtopic, but you really don't want to start selling cupcakes from your kitchen (at least if you are in the USA). The rules and regulations are fairly rigorous because the potential for harm is so high. There are lots of great home based businesses to start - cooking or dealing with food in any form is not one of them.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340304)

Uh, I think you're missing the part where she has to pay $300 for a business privilege license, despite only having made $50 from something that's hardly a business. That's like me selling something on eBay and having to pay $300 to sell a shrubbery for $50. Should she pay income tax? Sure. Business tax? Of course not.

what if the ad's pay for the website costs and $1- (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340434)

what if the ad's pay for the website costs and $1-$2 is left over each month?

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340460)

If I make $50 from a garage sale, should I have to get a business licence?

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340788)

In my county, you need a license to hold a garage sale(it's $10). And if you hold more than 1/quarter, then you need to collect sales tax.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (3, Insightful)

rednip (186217) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340660)

It also looks like she only made like $50 between several years

Yea, once she's done writing off all of her 'business expenses', website expenses, home office, computer equipment, (maybe even) a second car, travel & entertainment, etc. Just because you don't make any money, it doesn't mean that you aren't running a business.

Of course $300 sounds like a rather high price for a business license, particularly for an enterprise which might not take in more than $20,000/ year. Seems to me that Philly would be well advised to graduate it based on revenue and/or claimed expenses.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (2, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340700)

Why not simply have a certain limit under which you pay no tax?

First 1000 euro/dollar: tax free
Next 1000 euro/dollar: get licence of 300,--
Above 2000 per year: start paying tax as well...

That is just an example. I just mean to say that you'd need a progressive business tax that doesn't kill small initiatives before they make any real money.

Governments should encourage little businesses and initiatives - they make the money go round... and are often maintained by people outside office hours, therefore increasing the average productivity of a country.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (4, Informative)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340754)

In the article, it explicitly states that she does not run a business, which would make blogging a hobby at which she makes a small amount of income. As long as she declares this as part of her personal income, then this is perfectly legal. The business privelige license is for businesses (according to the cities' own website), so it makes no sense that she would need to purchase this license, or pay taxes as if she were running a business.

To make matters more difficult, if she were to attempt to declare this as a business, the IRS would expect her to demonstrate that she intends to turn this into a profitable endeavor, because running a home based business offers tremendous tax benefits and they try to crack down on the number of people who attempt to declare their hobby as a business.

In summation, It looks like the some of the City of Philadelphia employees do not understand their own laws, or tax law, on a most basic and simplistic level.

Re:Not all bloggers, just those that make money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340810)

So the little 6 year old girl who operates a lemonade stand out of a cardboard box on some hot summer day also needs to pay for a business license, taxes, et cetera? What kind of fucked-up country do we live in, anyway? How about the government follow its own advice to the citizenry, and LIVE WITHIN ITS MEANS instead of spending money it doesn't have?

So if you post on any forum you need to pay $300? (-1, Flamebait)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340232)

So if you post on any forum you need to pay $300?
If that is so is comcast behind any of this? as there are a lot forum and blog posts about CSN phlly needing to be dish and directv and this seems like a good way to make that go way and it's easy when you have philadelphia government in your pocket.

If not then who has say in what is a money makeing post?http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/08/23/1259223#

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340300)

She can be taxed pro rata based on the money she made, but that's it. Anything else would likely be considered in a court of law as prior restraint on speech [wisegeek.com] .

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (3, Funny)

ironjaw33 (1645357) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340312)

TFA is a bit confusing on this point -- it mentions something about income on a tax return, but that's about it. I'm deducing that if you bring in any ad revenue from a blog and you report it in your tax return, you're obligated to purchase the $300 business licence. Since US income taxes are limited to state and federal, I'm not sure how a municipality would enforce this. Also, I keep an informal blog that isn't ad supported -- it costs me money to run. If I were a Philly resident, would I be expected to get a business licence for that?

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340544)

Since US income taxes are limited to state and federal, I'm not sure how a municipality would enforce this.

Some larger cities also have an income tax. In the case of Philadelphia, they have something called a "wage tax", which they say is not an "income tax" - not sure exactly what the difference is.

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340720)

US income taxes are limited to state and federal

A state can delegate taxation to municipalities.

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#33341002)

and furthermore...... wouldn't an income of $50 and expenses of $300 + Servercosts result in a net loss that leads to a tax reduction?

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (0)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340352)

So if you post on any forum you need to pay $300?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Noooooooooooooooo.

Even longer answer: If you make mony with a website or a blog, you'll have to pay taxes (surprise, surprise). If you don't make money, you don't have to pay. Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (2, Informative)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340478)

Paying taxes isn't at issue. It's whether or not she needs to have a business license for her blog which generated gross profits of $50 over TWO YEARS.

Re:So if you post on any forum you need to pay $30 (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340394)

So if you post on any forum you need to pay $300?

No, that is not anywhere near what the story was about. You obviously did not read the....

Yes. Yes, it is true. Please send your $300 to me at once:

paiute
33 Whatajolly Street
Bang'er, ME 8679305

or we will have to turn your account over to a collection agency.

Sounds like philly needs to read the 1st amendment (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340256)

Sounds like philly needs to read the 1st amendment and maybe even the 14th Amendment.

Re:Sounds like philly needs to read the 1st amendm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340422)

Sounds like you need to read the RTFAmendment

Re:Sounds like philly needs to read the 1st amendm (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340496)

Sounds like you aren't thinking in terms of State and Local law vs Federal law. State law requires a business license (or 'tax') to conduct business, if you are making money doing something as a 'business' and are not employed by someone who already has a business tax paid, you are running a business and have to pay this tax. Its annoying but its the standard across the country.

1st amendment (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340608)

ironically written in Philadelphia...

Room for discretion and common sense? (1, Funny)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340280)

That room doesn't exist in any government building.

Re:Room for discretion and common sense? (2, Funny)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340466)

That room doesn't exist in any government building.

Sure it does. It's the door with the "Beware of Leopard" sign on it.

Bad Summary in OP (5, Informative)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340310)

If you RTFA, the $300 is the Philadelphia business privelege tax, so she's not being forced to pay for blogging, she's being forced to pay for blogging for money. Which is perhaps ridiculous, but no less ridiculous than it is for any other person in the city who has to pay it.

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340494)

She isn't blogging for money. The ad revenue is tertiary to the blogging. After two years it hasn't even paid for the hosting account if she's using a web host like Blue Host [bluehost.com] .

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340500)

do the local papers also have to pay this tax? serious question...

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340654)

Yes. Every income-generating business does.

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340724)

Yes, it is required of every business. This is true in just about every town or city - to get a license to operate you must pay for a license. Often, there is a floor, below which you may not be required to get one, and a ceiling above which you pay a percentage of your gross receipts (or income). It means businesses pay a portion of the funds it requires to run the city (police, fire, cleanup, trash, etc.)

This is a "privilege tax," which is simply a way to extract a minimum fixed fee for the opportunity to conduct business in a city. You can think of it as an extortion or protection money, but it's more appropriately likened to a cover charge. this is most common for service/professional fields. Tennessee, for example, has a professional privilege tax ($400/yr) for anyone with an active professional license (engineers, architects, accountants, doctors, lawyers; there may be others). It's why I keep my license inactive in that state, and will only activate it if I have a job large enough to cover the cost (and the client will be indirectly billed for it in my fee).

     

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340502)

It IS ridiculous to say that someone needs to pay a business tax to engage in any activity that nets money. Blogging isn't special because it's on the internet. It is speech, even if she did get paid a paltry sum for it.

Re:Bad Summary in OP (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340738)

Anything that doesn't aim to recoup it's own costs, let alone make a profit isn't a business. This intent is fully visible, that operating several years with loss, that she goes on funding her hobby without making changes.

But two wrongs don't make a right. Philadelphia has been losing population since the 1950s, partly with shit like this. In fact, all of PA has budget troubles, but not because the government doesn't rake enough cash in, but in both cases because of having too many union workers, ridiculous pensions, and spending too much. In fact, they are raising the school taxes here because of the losses in the 2008-9 stock market decline and apparently the teachers can gamble in the market and never lose. I believe Philly too was looking how to recover cityworker pensions though increased taxes? But who will bail out the taxpayers?

And whoever wrote the line in the summary "yes, cash-strapped cities can't very well ignore potential sources of income." Fuck you. The taxpayers are not some piggybank to be siphoned off at will. There are very few places I see that really cut spending even though the private sector does. The governments' job used to be to carry out it's limited enumerated duties and impose a tax needed to cover it, not maximize it's own revenue.

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340850)

If you RTFA, the $300 is the Philadelphia business privelege tax, so she's not being forced to pay for blogging, she's being forced to pay for blogging for money. Which is perhaps ridiculous, but no less ridiculous than it is for any other person in the city who has to pay it.

I did read it, It sounds like the money is probably coming from Google ads - she's hardly running a business, and even if she was, she made $50 "over the last few years" - it'll probably cost them more to collect the tax than she will actually pay back ($300 included) when you consider the cost of all the government employees involved in tracking her down, sending, signing and delivering the letter asking for the money, actually collecting and counting the money etc. etc. - the whole thing is dumb.

Re:Bad Summary in OP (1)

tburkhol (121842) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340904)

Exactly. This is like requiring a business license for a lemonade stand. Your kid's lemonade stand probably doesn't need a license, but Daddy's Lemonade [daddyslemonade.com] does. If this blogger made enough money from her blog to interest the IRS, then a business license may be appropriate.

Re:Bad Summary in OP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340956)

I get the feeling summaries are only that bad so people have to RTFA.

Lesson learned? (4, Insightful)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340326)

It seems that the state only knows about these bloggers because they reported income made from blogs on their taxes. Seems like the lesson here is to not report small gains on your taxes else your state will fleece you.

This is sad because these people did pay taxes on this tiny amount of income already on their income tax. By trying to be good citizens and play by the rules they are rewarded with a fee that would either put them out of business or make them less honest about their income in the future.

Re:Lesson learned? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340510)

Technically the IRS doesn't require you to report income under $20k IIRC

Re:Lesson learned? (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340586)

$600, not $20,000......

Re:Lesson learned? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340972)

+1 informative.

There are many myths about taxes that are used by people to justify not paying them. You can bet all those walmart employees are paying taxes, so $20,000 fails the sniff test.

Re:Lesson learned? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33341030)

Are you sure? Last time I filled out my 1040ez the form said I didn't need to report any income under $20K (though that might have been in regard to gifts now that I think of it).

Re:Lesson learned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33340852)

Honesty is not a vurtue when dealing with thieves.

do ALL 'journalists' have to pay the same? (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340342)

If so, does that count for out of state 'journalists'?

This is a sad thing. If she was an award winning fulltime
journalist, then I might be able to see this as a business license
type of thing. If it is basically a hobby, then each of
the elected officials should pay a tax on their hobby, like golf
or tennis, or fishing , etc. The minimum tax should be , say,
$300.00 per year.

I would prefer they pay double their income to the State as a
privilege tax on being politicians.

File Taxes (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340356)

The Lesson: Don't file income on small stuff like the $5 you earned blogging because the state does have common sense. If you go ahead and file this income then neither do you.

Not completely outragious... (4, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340376)

I'm sure I will get flamed for this..

While I personnaly do not consider people blogging, to be business entities, I do not make up the rules. Whether or not the rule is flawed here is not the point, until said rule is changed people will have to abide by it. I consider a blog by a corporate entity an extension of the business they are running or services they are providing.

That being said, there should be some common sense involved when enforcing it based on the amount of income a blog generates. In the case of those referenced in to article, making them pay seems a little ridiculous.

Re:Not completely outragious... (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340522)

The blogger referenced in the submission is running a personal blog.

Re:Not completely outragious... (4, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340530)

Unless she is incorporated, it should be considered a personally owned business. Do 17 year olds who mow their neighbors' lawns have to pay this fee? Paying tax on the income ($50) makes sense, but paying $300 for being a business doesn't.

Re:Not completely outragious... (0, Offtopic)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340866)

Whether or not the rule is flawed here is not the point, until said rule is changed people will have to abide by it.

Like with not hiding away Jews during the holocaust? I feel real disgust for the people that kept Anne Frank hidden away...

Re:Not completely outragious... (1)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 4 years ago | (#33341036)

Cracking down is completely unnecessary. The fact is, a home based business serves as an excellent tax shelter, and the IRS does not want people declaring hobbies like this as a business because they will lose out on tax revenue. If I could start a personal blog and be allowed to declare it as a business on my taxes, then I would start one tomorrow.

So it's not always sunny in Philadelphia? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340408)

Oh wait, I just thought of the name for my new blog.

so much for "free" speech (0, Flamebait)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340414)

Since when has PT, $1/month blogging become a business!? While this is insanely stupid, I'm wondering what the impact will be on free speech (now i have to PAY to have the privilege to express my opinions!? Since when has this become a privilege, and not a right anymore?). The ironic part, if you think about it, is that the government is trying to raise revenues to "help the poor" (their usual excuse), yet it's the lower income bloggers (who can't afford the $300 fee) who will have to shut up in favour of those with money who can afford the fees.

Re:so much for "free" speech (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340734)

Since when has PT, $1/month blogging become a business!?

When money is exchanged for goods/services on a regular basis, a business is being run.

Blogging is a cottage industry. It makes no difference whether the blogger is successful or not, they're running a business if they make agreements to accept money for advertisements to appear on their sites.

She has a very good case (4, Interesting)

mmontalvo (831939) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340600)

The IRS would consider this to be nothing more than a hobby. They define a business as an entity that is expected to make a profit. This clearly would not be expected to make a profit.

Re:She has a very good case (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340914)

They define a business as an entity that is expected to make a profit.

Well, that gets Detroit's auto industry and Wall Street off the IRS hook, then.

One Question! (1)

smith6174 (986645) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340612)

How much are they paying to keep track of this? I'm sure at least one person out there is in charge of this. THAT sounds like a good place to save some money!

Inevitable taxing of the free money (4, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340640)

All those ads, Examiner.com payments, "send paypal donation" buttons, etc. have been untaxed income for a long time. All that's happening now is that states are awakening and correcting the balance.

Asking for a business license so that you can publish content and be paid for it is not an unfair thing. In fact, it's fair to those who want to sell hot dogs instead, and also have to get licensed as a result.

Re:Inevitable taxing of the free money (3, Insightful)

Bruha (412869) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340692)

I'm willing to bet the hot dog man makes more than 50 dollars a year off hot dogs.

Re:Inevitable taxing of the free money (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340718)

The people who are selling hot dogs can poison people if they don't fellow safe food handling procedures. The State has a legitimate interest in regulating them to ensure that this doesn't happen.

Please explain to me how a blog can harm the community and why the state should be allowed to regulate them.

Re:Inevitable taxing of the free money (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340960)

I thought donations counted as gifts and so weren't taxed? Naive me, I guess.

In any case, yes, this is perfectly normal: governments throwing up bizarre barriers hobbies and businesses that have no grounding in concern for the public. The only question is whether you count this "normality" as an argument for or against this kind of thing. Are you only upset at Philly because it hits too close to home, or because you oppose things like this generally?

Aye, there's the rub.

Re:Inevitable taxing of the free money (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340988)

"Asking for a business license so that you can publish content and be paid for it is not an unfair thing. In fact, it's fair to those who want to sell hot dogs instead, and also have to get licensed as a result."

I would argue against this line of thought. Selling hot dogs requires a business license, a health
permit, requirements to maintain a clean place of business, manage inventory, insurance, the list
goes on and on. Blogging, on the other hand requires none of these.

You are confusing a 'brick and mortar' type of business with a cyberspace existence. Unless the blogger is making money hand over fist(as the saying goes), they are basically just doing vanity
publishing.

Slippery slope (3, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340780)

This kind of result is to be expected once you concede the point that a person requires permission from the government (a license) in order to engage in commerce.

Once you have agreed to be a serf it's hardly surprising when you get treated like one.

Freedom has been sold to the greedy policy police. (1)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340796)

Business and government have been making policy and using that word as an excuse not to make exceptions for decades and this is the result .. government agencies that are like retarded automatons, no thinking, no sense common or otherwise, no accountability, just the big machine rolling over people without any regard for justice or right or wrong.

Maybe she grossed much more than $50? (1)

billrp (1530055) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340940)

The article says she made $50. But many small business owners will deduct as business expenses almost everything, including computer costs, internet access costs, home office costs, mileage going to/from the local computer store to buy a cable, monthly phone and cell phone costs, books, pizza delivered while blogging, hotel room while "interviewing" someone for the blog - almost anything can be considered a business expense. So maybe she grossed $20,000 last year, and had $19,950 in expenses.

Only a matter of time (1)

Nick (109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33340964)

Before King Daley brings this to Chicago. Maybe the bloggers can unionize and get sweetheart contracts with the city on the taxpayers dime instead.

They can't /make/ you get a business license (2, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 4 years ago | (#33341038)

The choice to incorporate is not one that the state can require you to do. It is a matter of liability. Anyone who has studied the history corporations know they are 100% about liability. If she wants to blog and generate income, then she does it with her personal liability on the line (for slander, etc)

However, it is generally a good thing to incorporate. She will be able to deduct from her taxes in full or part, the cost of her internet connection, time blogging, etc as un-reimbursed business expenses. So she'll actually make out better because the corporation pays bills first, then pays taxes. Humans pay taxes first, then pay bills. Meaning that her company money will go farther than her personal money in paying for things. About every rich person I know has at least one fiction (a company) in their name. This means, the state will actually lose money. There is a small discrepancy when the cost of the business ($300) exceeds profits, but she can use the corporation for something else as well. She certainly doesn't live on $11/mo

Standard caveats apply, IANAL, IANAA (accountant) , YMMV, etc. I do however have a corp.

The ancient principle of the Anglo-Saxon common law, and Biblical law, is that everyone has a right to make a living at occupations of common right. So then, what is an occupation of common right? It is the right of all men in common to do any work that men might engage one another to do, and that does not exist as a result of some government act or establishment. Occupations of common right were some of those “inalienable rights” the writers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind. At least, that was the US supreme court’s opinion in Butchers Union v. Crescent City Co., 111 US 746:

“The right to follow any of the common occupations of life is an inalienable right. It was formulated as such under the phrase “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence which commenced with the fundamental proposition that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”This right is a large ingredient in the civil liberty of the citizen.”

 

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