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Philadelphia’s Government Imposes Restrictions and Fees on Blogs

Like many cities across the nation, Philadelphia faces a budget crisis due to massive overspending by lawmakers on wasteful projects. In order to make up for their $179 million shortfall, Philadelphia’s government has proposed everything from steep soda taxes to property tax increases. Unfortunately, the city has taken it even one step further by requiring that Philadelphia’s bloggers obtain a $300 business license and pay a “business privileged tax.”

In Philadelphia, most people maintain blogs as a hobby to express their opinions on various issues from politics to local restaurants. With very few exceptions, the required “business privileged tax” exceeds bloggers’ incomes. Marilyn Bess, a local Philadelphian blogger, has made about $50 over the past three years on her green living blog. According to the MS Philly Organic blog owner,

The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous.

A number of people who own small, low-traffic blogs that make no money are receiving letters from the city treasurer claiming that they owe $300 to the government. Any blogger who fails to comply with this imposed hefty tax may face harsh legal consequences.

Since Philadelphia’s government has become no stranger to corruption and waste, blogs have given ordinary citizens the opportunity to speak out against their elected officials. Forcing blog owners to pay more in taxes than they earn would likely shut down grassroots blogs that help hold politicians accountable to citizens. All Philadelphia residents have the right to post their thoughts on the Internet without obtaining a costly government license to do so. Please see Philadelphia's city council website to contact district council members regarding these unprecedented new taxes. Unless we take action to fight these outrageous restrictions on Philadelphia’s blogs, a new bloggers tax may be imposed on a city near you!