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Thugs R Us: Philadelphia Says Bloggers Owe Money to Government

extortionI know times are tough and local governments are looking for a way to get some extra cash, but extorting demanding money from bloggers smacks of thuggery.

The Washington Post wrote:

…Philadelphia, where the city has been asking bloggers with any sign of a business model to pay for a “business privilege license.” [emphasis mine]

Of course, the definition of “any sign of a business model” is a bit broad. It apparently includes having an ad on your blog. So what about writers who have their book covers on their blog? Or maybe bloggers who don’t have ads but affiliate links to places like Amazon?

Philadelphia City Paper reports:

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.

Many of the bloggers who are being extorted — yep, I said it — don’t make anywhere near $300. A lot of them are doing it just for fun / as a hobby with an ad thrown in there.

In a way it’s sad since people can’t just decide to boycott this ridiculous fee. The government has the power to jail or fine you or whatever to get the money it wants. (Unless you run like hell to another country or something.)

My solution to the bloggers in Philadelphia — Form a union of bloggers. Then demand a bailout from the federal government on the basis of “too big to fail”.

4 comments to “Thugs R Us: Philadelphia Says Bloggers Owe Money to Government”

  1. Lynn Spencer
    · August 24th, 2010 at 11:15 pm · Link

    This just strikes me as a bad idea for so many reasons. It hurts blogging as a whole because imposing the tax would make blogging off-limits to many. In terms of revenue for Philly, I’d be interested to see if they make more than they spend on enforcement and/or challenges. I’d also be interested to see if reports of income from blogs suddenly plummet on future tax returns.

    I like your blog, btw. :-) I just found my way here via Twitter.

  2. Nadia Lee
    · August 25th, 2010 at 12:29 am · Link


    I suspect people who were honest on their tax return are regretting it. I suspect more and more people will underreport in Philadelphia as a result of this ridiculous rule.

    And thank you for your kind words. :)

  3. Renmiu
    · August 29th, 2010 at 12:20 am · Link

    What they are doing to the bloggers is so wrong. TAX TAX TAX…so bloody greedy

    • Nadia Lee
      · August 29th, 2010 at 3:55 am · Link

      I know. I think the only thing government officials see when they look at us is “source of free money!” :?

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