All the bloggers holed up in basements in the City of Brotherly Love and trying to survive off of Google AdSense revenue may be out of luck. The Philadelphia City Paper printed an article last week that revealed the sob stories of part-time freelance writers and bloggers who, despite making minuscule amounts per year through advertising, are still being forced to pay an annual $50 "privilege license" in accordance with the Business Privilege Tax. The city treats self-employed writers as "businesses" as long as their blog has the potential to make a profit. So, when those in charge of under-the-radar sites received a letter from the city last May asking them to pay either a onetime $300 fee or $50 per year, many were less than pleased.
Barry's music-oriented blog, Circle of Fits, is hosted on Blogspot; as of this writing, its home page has two ads on it, but because he gets only a fraction of the already low ad revenue — the rest goes to Blogspot — it's far from lucrative.
"Personally, I don't think Circle of Fits is a business," says Barry. "It might be someday if I start selling coffee mugs, key chains or locks of my hair to my fans. I don't think blogs should be taxed unless they are making an immense profit."
Bloggers are also required to pay the appropriate taxes on their income, regardless of how little money they made. Barry, for instance, made only $11 over the course of two years.
The most painless solution may be for bloggers to resign themselves to fate and abandon Google AdSense or other ad services. Yes, the minimal profits that once came rolling in will dry up, but the self-satisfaction of refusing to give the city that hard-earned blog revenue will be preserved.
Pay Up [Philadelphia City Paper]