City to charge for blogging?

I know I have been outspoken on the City of Ottawa before, but even they wouldn’t do something this stupid.  

Philadelphia is thinking about charging bloggers $300 a year.

 

Okay, they might once they hear about it, but for now, I would have to give Philadelphia the honour of the world’s stupidest motion in a bad effort to make money.  

As Broad Street Hockey talks about, the City of Philadelphia wants to charge all bloggers $300 a year to have a blog. No matter if you blog about the Flyers, politics, reviews of CSI or knitting. And no matter if you make money or not.  

(Editor’s note: As Todd pointed out in the comments, it’s “a business license that costs $50 a year or $300 for a lifetime.” Still too much money, in my opinion, but I wanted to put in that correction). 

Basically, the city sees this as a way to make a little bit of extra dough.   

Look, every city is pretty much cash-strapped. Some of that has to do with inflation, some of it due to pay hikes in employees’ salaries, and a lot of it due to city politicians making bad choices. Whether it be $5 million on a pet project that doesn’t need to be done, or money spent on studies that aren’t really needed, politicians can always find things to spend money on to make it seem like they keep busy.  

But then they have trouble paying for these projects, and they need to find new ways to raise money. So they come up with ideas like this.  

And there are some problems with the whole idea. I have no idea how they’re going to enforce it. How can they tell if you live in Philadelphia if you use a platform like WordPress? I know some of them submit their earnings when they fill out their taxes. And if people are reporting numbers like “I made $11 over two years” on their tax forms, wouldn’t they just stop reporting those numbers?  

And would the city hire new employees, whose jobs it is to scour the Internet daily, looking for any blog posts that may mention Philadelphia?  

And do people who are big business and like to blog on their work web site and already pay business taxes have to pay even more taxes?  

Does the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, pay $600? After all, he has two different blogs (one on Myspace, and one on his official site).  

If the motion goes through, all that it is going to accomplish will be to convince some bloggers to not blog anymore. They may decide it’s not worth it, and just stop altogether. And that is a shame, because there are a lot of talented writers out there.  

The idea of charging people a fee to blog is a ludicrous idea, and it needs to be defeated.

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113 Comments

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113 responses to “City to charge for blogging?

  1. WTF?! Who thought of this? Whoever it was should be flicked in the ear repeatedly. (Said the sassy blog chick.)

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  2. Nonsense. That’s like charging for free speech…or like the government unilaterally deciding to charge for the local free newspapers to skim profits while the free newspapers make? Nothing. Further, blogging is the only reason some people write. The idea of getting your word out there to be read by the conceivable billions is a freedom known in no other time in history. Keep it free Philadelphia! ~Heather

  3. Is anyone really surprised?

    What better way to curb speech than to fine people for doing it?

  4. PEOPLE, WAKE UP!! This is not only a sceme to make money, IT IS CENSORSHIP!! If you can’t pay, you are SILENCED! If you pay, I would imagine that they will check out your blog, and if they don’t like it,report it to Homeland Security or something like that. “The ability to tax, is the ability to destroy.” Author Unknown

  5. Wow!

    I live in Philadelphia and this is unacceptable. lol, but it is very funny. Of all this ideas Philly could come up with, this is the one they pick? What about college students who are out of state but school in Philly, do they have to pay also? there is no way this should make it through.

    Where is the brotherly love Philly?

    -Social Assault-

  6. Nutter is a Nut, that’s just dumb and has no idea what he’s doing. I can’t wait until his term is over.

  7. I heard this yesterday on a talk radio station. It’s just par for the course these days. The government will find anyway possible to nickel and dime us.

    I mean why not? Seems perfect sense to charge bloggers (who don’t make money off of what amounts to a hobby). While we’re at it, why don’t we go ahead and charge scrapbookers and knitters too?

  8. It’s not just for making money. Cities can make money otherwise… This is a weird statement though, to come out of the blue and suggest such a nonsense. But that’s just right out a way to try to shut people up. Which is impossible.

  9. Pingback: Wow. That’s Pretty Much All I Have to Say About This… - Jason Aaron Kiesel

  10. I think we can breathe a sign of relief. The Philadelphia Inquirer says it’s not true.

    Philly has a business license that costs $50 a year or $300 for a lifetime. Bloggers who reported income to the IRS were flagged by the city; if a blog generates revenue, it’s a business, according to the city.

    So, it’s not a tax on blogs. It’s a tax on businesses, even, apparently, very small ones.

    Here’s the link to the story: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/20100824_Is_Philly_taxing_bloggers_.html

    • Thanks for the link Todd. I think the debate is probably more on what constitutes a business, and what doesn’t. I am glad it’s not $300 a year, but still, $300 for a lifetime membership to the city just to blog?

      • What’s interesting is that the story says the city is taxing blogs if the blogs make money, “no matter how little.” I don’t live in Philly, but I wonder if anyone’s heard whether they’re targeting folks who sell their baseball cards on eBay or old clothes at yard sales. That would make as much sense as the city taxing someone who makes a few bucks by letting readers click to buy books on Amazon, you know?

      • That’s another good point Todd. Someone in a comment on another site mentioned kids’ lemonade stands. At some point, they must decide what is actually a legit business and what isn’t. Why couldn’t they do the same for blogs?

  11. I don’t see how they could do this. It’s basically a form of a business license. A blogger is essentially a writer; are they requiring authors to get a business license? Published, self-published or striving? Jeez…

  12. As someone who is a public policy professional, I can’t imagine how this fiscal idea ever found the light of day.

    WOW.

    D.

  13. Andrew

    This seems to be a pretty ridiculous scheme to get money from a previously untapped source. I can understand – just – if there are some of the larger blogs that are dependent upon ad revenue and there was a gap in collecting or something, but seeing this extend to people who aren’t generating money seems somewhat ridiculous, not to mention unenforcible. The original article, however, seems to point to people with ad traffic on them, which makes me think that there are some facts getting switched around a little. Still, not a good thing to see in any instance.

  14. This is the most idiotic idea I’ve ever heard of. If this ever came to be, people would completely revolt.

  15. Wow, so many questions. Is this for anyone with a blog or just those who makes money off of it? How do they plan on monitoring this?
    It’s just crazy.

  16. wow. we have hit rock bottom in our cities. This is so stupid. How could they even implement this. There would be no more blogs… that can’t happen.

  17. I hope this is nonsense, if not this world HAS gone crazy! That is like censorship!! Not in AMERICA, please?!

    evelyngarone.com

  18. Cheryl

    One word: ridiculous.

  19. This is just ridiculous, as someone said, if they charge bloggers for making a little money they should charge people who sells stuff on eBay too. Again: it’s ridiculous…

  20. sayitinasong

    That idea sounds like desperatly grasping at straws time… and completely bonkers. To being with, how would you even keep taps on all the blogs etc. Full of loopholes and I suppose desperate times and desperate measures- but that is one of the worst ideas I have heard in a long while…

  21. This is ridiculous!! Thanks for posting an informative blog…Now that’ll be 50 dollars please :)

  22. Pingback: City to charge for blogging? (via The Ryan Coke Experience) « Space Bound

  23. It sounds like a pipe dream, and keeping up with it would be waaaay to complex an operation for a city. They are not known for their competence.

  24. Not a very smart way to make money. Perhaps the city officials might consider reducing spending such as with exorbant payroll and pensions that they all get! Anyways, great post! LB

  25. Eff that! They’re gonna charge me to write about bestiality and underage girls? I’ll take it to the street, zine style. A blog is only a business if you are one of the big boys. The rest of us nerds ain’t makin’ jack shit for money.

  26. This is without doubt the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a long time. Enforcement would be impossible as you mention. But what else would fall under the scope of this plan? Twitter? Facebook? Both can be used to write posts.

  27. It’ll never pass. I think it would be damn near impossible to enforce such a law (mandate?) Like you said, what about those of us on WordPress?

    I suppose if you were using the city’s bandwidth and servers, charging you to use it would be good business … but who’s doing that?

  28. Thanks for pointing this out. Cities try as hard as they can to drive creative people away. This is another example.

  29. jessicainthenow

    I read that you would only be charged if you made money off your blog.

    1. how do they tell if you make money
    2. if you make $5, do they really charge you $300?

    I live in silly silly Philly, and the city has done a lot of dumb things, but I don’t think think one will work.

  30. PMW

    Whichever idiot thought of this idea probably didn’t really know what a blog is (as usual). Something great, the internet, is created. An open collaboration for people to freely do whatever they like. The governments don’t like this, like the mafia disliking a bakery not giving them ‘protection’ money, and they want a slice of ‘the action’. This is a perfect example again of ‘important’ people trying to control something and make money out of it.

  31. meandswoo

    As a Brit I am so pleased to find this is probably not true otherwise someone in government on this side of the water would only go an copy it as we are all broke too.

  32. I’m pretty sure if this idea works out, everyone would leave Philly and he’d have nobody to tax. And would charities also have to pay $300 because even though they are making money, the money isn’t entirely for them — it’s for the benefit of others. The whole idea of this license is just plain insane.

  33. Nothing comes as a surprise with the fools we let govern our lives. This story may not be true, but I bet it’s given some fools a good idea about how they can squeeze a few more pounds/bucks/yen, etc. out of us.

  34. herby

    Hear hear mate! I wouldn’t blog if I didn’t have to pay for it and, while I’m not a great writer, I would hate to lose my right to self-expression.

    Mind you – the way around it would be for everyone to start a blog because they couldn’t find a whole city ;)

  35. Pingback: City to charge for blogging? (via The Ryan Coke Experience) « A Nerd's Life

  36. I guess I need to take out of my profile where I am located just in case CA gets wind of this. Thanks for posting this info.

  37. this is the dumbest thing i have ever heard.
    i cant believe how lame this is.

  38. Pingback: City to charge for blogging? (via The Ryan Coke Experience) « Shards of Infinity

  39. Wow this is about one of the oddest things I have read in awhile. How would they know – is it based upon where you live, your IP, etc. I mean I could right about this city from my home in Michigan. Just because I blog doesn’t mean it have a business. Wow this is the most ill-conceived “tax” I have seen in a long long time.

  40. Pingback: Another Nutter Idea…Think Dumber Than Soda Tax « Roy's Rants Blog

  41. As a Philly blogger, I have to say the news has a lot of people pissed off!

    Philadelphia: Anything for a buck…

    http://allthevoices.wordpress.com/

  42. If this hits nationwide, I’m moving to Canada. Hell, Canada already has the lowest taxes and the best insurance. I’d rather serve a country that supports its military than a country that charges for blogging.

  43. wow….that, really suxx, i hope it doesnt pass ;*/

  44. Well-said, Tom–and you’re not even from here (Philly, of course). This is one of the most ridiculous actions our city has ever taken. I’m glad I don’t live in the city. It’ll be interesting to see if the fee stays–people here are incensed! On the bright side, glad to see we could help you like Ottawa more. :-)

    –Coreen

  45. hsianloon

    That is an insane idea, and if it is able to surface, I’m not surprised they’ll soon be charging people for writing in their own diaries..SWAT teams breaking doors down in the middle of the night looking for diaries?

  46. It’s a good thing that I’m not making money off my blog. Wait, or is that a bad thing? LOL Thanks for the heads up! :)

  47. Couldn’t agree with you more, both re: politicians look for more ways to get money instead of reducing their current costs, AND it being a bad idea to charge bloggers. LAME! Yet another reason I’m turning Libertarian!

  48. avkstar

    God Bless the City of Philadelphia

    As a native and current resident, I can practically guarantee that this won’t happen. For all of the reasons listed above, as well as the biggest reason of them all: the city has bigger fish to fry.
    Lately, the city has come up with the grand scheme of doing away with city employees’ retirement plan, called the DROP program. Almost a month ago they announced plans to do away with it, and there it still stands. I wouldn’t be surprised if the program stuck around another year given the red tape the city has to put itself through.

    Not only will that piece of legistaltion take up enough time, it’s slated to give the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who needs $300 per blog when they’ve got that kind of dough only a year away? And a retirement package is much easier to get rid of over free speech.

    avkramer.wordpress.com

  49. liac333

    Holy cheese!!! It’s stupid to make us pay to have our voices heard (it’s practically censorship). I blog so I can get my work out there without worrying about finance and memberships, and now????!!!!
    Some people don’t even write blogs for the general public. Some people write blogs that are strictly personal. It’s like what hsianloon said; charging people for writing in their diaries.

  50. teganor

    What about bloggers under the age of 18? Will their parents have to be responsible for the fee? I

    If a blog like one on myspace or any platform for that matter is to be used for government profit, would the companies who host the site get anything?

    Wouldn’t it then be false advertisement to Philadelphians for a site like wordpress.com to show “get a free blog here” on the website?
    Money really complicates things.

  51. Ha ha ha! I can only laugh. This people is supposed to be smart and make logical and meaning full decisions, not absurd ones.

  52. Pingback: Taxing blogs in Philadelphia? Um, not exactly. « Culture Monkey

  53. buytupperwarebangalore

    Your article whetted my curisoity quite a bit for I run 8 blogs and I thought to myself…are they kidding.

    And it was so much fun reading the comments that I forgot to worry about it by the end of it all.

  54. LD

    Okay, look … That’ll be $5 per year to wear sandals down town, $10 per yer for loafers, and $15 per year to party Friday nights. What, you got a problem with that? That’s gonna cost you a $30 complaint fee! You got a wife? $50 per year to sleep with her of we are gonna foreclose on your property.

  55. Oh my… :( It’s almost like charging people for having freedom of speech/press

    Cheers, Niconica
    http://niconica.wordpress.com

  56. makerealmoneyonline

    Tell me this is a Joke! A city actually thought about charging for a blog come on now that’s about the dumbest ideal I ever hear of. This is America right? What next charge to upload pictures and videos.

  57. That’s as ridiculous as Wichita’s new city ordinance. (Wichita, KS, is set to pass a “graffiti” law that basically outlaws basic art supplies). Enforcing it will be a political nightmare all by itself.

  58. ‘Is this real life?’ – David after the dentist… No this must be inception!

  59. How desperate can you get? This has got to be one of the unreasonable and unjustifiable proposition to make. As if the blog industry is making a lot of money nowadays. People usually refer to blogs as a daily diary or journal of things you want to share and be reminded of.

  60. Pingback: City to charge for blogging? (via The Ryan Coke Experience) | Your Basic Geek

  61. OHG!!! How absolutely ridiculous. Seems like your politicians are just as ludicrous as ours (UK). They go mad spending money as you say and then try out these stupid ideas to recoup. I bet he has also sneakily inserted a request for a pay rise!! Be damned I say to these money-grabbing nutters, they should all be rounded up and sent into outer space, never to be seen again. You know really…..$300! The man is mad. I have 6 blogs….I would be bankrupt within a day! :) I hope you manage to jolt them into some sort of sensibility. In my considered opinion…all politicians should be banned, they are bad for the country.

  62. Rhiella

    Really is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard- fingers crossed it never comes to fruition. I have a feeling there would be enough people standing against it for the government to realise what a mistake it would be!

  63. I wouldn’t blog if I had to pay for it..just ridiculous!

  64. So true. Blogging should always be free and not be charged. Personally, I don’t think I can make do with a paid blogging program, as the idea alone seems a bit ludicrous to me.

    There are different types of bloggers out there; with lots of different interests and creative passion, so to put a $ on it for them to express their creative form sound so wrong. Above all, this is my personal thought on this, blogging should always be free, for the most part at least. Great post.

  65. I can NOT imagine being charged for a basic right… freedom of speech. having to pay is like punishment for wanting to speak your word. :( not cool.

  66. That 70s Show dvd

    politicians look for more ways to get money instead of reducing their current costs.

  67. if they start charging for blogging it is going to cost me an absolute fortune…; ) Check out the world’s longest blog, I’m going to have the world’s longest bill…; )

    Nice blog, interesting angle…; )

    Cheers
    Joe

  68. I agree, this is absolutely Ridiculous!

  69. lewigi2012

    Great post. And, you’re right, a lot of talent would be lost due to people refusing to blog if charges were brought in.

  70. Hilarious. Let’s then change the name from blogging to otc (online talk cock).

  71. It’s called The Constitution… It’s called The Bill of Rights…

    Use it or lose it.

    Defend it, or be silenced.

    Philly bloggers better start boning up on their rights, and start shopping for decent lawyers. People who even think they can do that should be taken to court (even if the courts are corrupt).

  72. Jayant Raj

    Does these stupid money-making tricks are used in US[Philadelphia]???

    It must be stopped.Revolt against it…..This is an stupid idea.. :P

  73. Stupid idea number two … one of the candidates for Minnesota governor wants to tax every email sent.

    Land of the “free” …? Not any more it seems. It is more like the Land of the “pay the government for everything including breathing”.

    What happened to the free-enterprise system? The reason the internet has grown and improved so quickly over the years is because it is a relatively free medium of expression, invention, innovation and business … we can’t allow the government start charging us …

    • Stupid idea number two … one of the candidates for Minnesota governor wants to tax every email sent.

      Land of the “free” …? Not any more it seems. It is more like the Land of the “pay the government for everything including breathing”.

  74. giovana

    Great article, Tom. It is wrong and inconceivable.

    Unfortunately, Philly needs to be used as an example, action needs to come loudly & swiftly, that the good people of Pennsylvania and the rest of America ‘will not stand’ for stupidity like this.

    We also need some people in Philly to blog about the wasteful projects the politicians are wasting the city funds on so the rest of us know about it and complain about it.

    We need to use this here internet in positive ways. Gain information across the board, change our voting styles and start to ‘take back’ our government with knowledge, education and effective voting practices.

    We, the people, could utilize this internet to level the playing field and bring accountability to our local & state governments, but we are not.

    We are too set in our ways, too apathetic. We just don’t get fired up and take action like we used to. We’ll fire off a comment or two on someone’s blogpost, but not take any decisive action that might bring change.

    On the one hand it’s totally wrong what Philly is doing, on the other hand, why not. In Philly & every other city across the US.

    People will whine & complain for a while, but then they’ll just accept it like everything else…

  75. An interesting aspect of this is that it is near impossible to draw a strict line between what is a blog and what a website, with the potential of similar issues when comparing blogs and online diaries and various other accounts.

    In the end, there is a considerable risk that a plan like this (if implemented) would lead to a far greater area than blogging being taxed.

  76. This is absurd! Bloggers all over should unite against this injustice!

  77. Wow, that’s plainly just stupid. I wonder how much they’d react if I wanted to pay a lisence for ‘blogging about collecting toys and for showing off my art work’

  78. I can’t say that I’m shocked, but disgusted yes. That is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard all year.

  79. Just what every small business and entrepreneur needs – more regulation.

    http://www.HerbalIncense420.com

  80. Holy cow. I’m dumbfounded. Speechless. Why and how would/could this even work? The extent of people’s stupidity often amazes me, but this is extreme!

  81. nov0

    you guys are pathetic in dire needs of money. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Lord Almighty and can not be curtailed by a a stupid idea of his creations

  82. Pingback: City to charge for blogging? (via The Ryan Coke Experience) « nFocus w/ Aaron Craig

  83. Ryan,

    Thought you might like this Philly update. Yesterday they seized the truck of the Cupcake Lady. You really can’t make this stuff up.

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_top_left_story/20100825_A_cupcake_controversy_in_Philly.html

  84. While a bit crazy sounding, I think if you are working from home and earning a living then you need to have a business license. I think if you earn income you should pay taxes, just like everyone else. In my town a work at home one person business license cost $100. Big deal. But it keeps me on the up and up and I like living life from that place.

    • Val,

      I don’t have an issue with the city charging people who make a living through blogging. If someone sell things on their blog and make $30,000 a year, I wouldn’t argue against them needing a business licence. But then, you could argue it’s not really a blog, and more of a selling website.

      But if someone has a job, blogs for fun, and makes $5 a year because of that Google ad thing, then that isn’t a business, and they shouldn’t have to pay a whack load of money.

  85. Are you f* kidding me? Is this for real or some hype? If it is for reals than is there an opposition set up already? Protests, petitions and other stuff?
    This is crazy guys! I’m China now but I can at least sign a petition or something.

    Such a thing must never pass and it must be shown really strongly and clearly that free citizens will never allow it and provide no space at all for other politicians to even think about of another limiting of the freedom of speech.

    oh my god.

  86. Blogging is just one of the platforms to express oneself.Even if they start charging for it,we have many other ways and social media platforms open to say what we want to.
    So I dont see this as a problem.

  87. J

    If wordpress is lettign me blog for free why should I pay you??? Yeah ok!
    http://www.nomam.wordpress.com

  88. Pingback: Link Happy « A Photogenic Life

  89. Wow, I totally agree with you–that idea is ridiculous. And it’s true–government officials do keep inventing new ways to spend money, then run out and, rather than abandoning the ill-conceived projects and redirecting the funds to other, pre-existing projects/departments, they dream up things like this to generate the capital they need to make up the difference that wouldn’t have existed if they hadn’t started the process in the first place. Ugh politicians.

  90. smftw07

    I have never in my life heard something as ridiculous as this! Charging people to blog? I would be pissed that I not only have to pay a monthly bill for Internet, but also to blog online, which should be free in the first place.

    What’s next America?

  91. That is the craziest damn thing that I have heard in a long time. I think you head it right on the head with the poiticians trying to pay for some of their crap! Good post…enjoyed it!

  92. What will they think of next? Nothing like more government regulation to kill e-commerce.

  93. Pingback: Get unstuck: non-crap tips for finding freelance inspiration « Write you are…

  94. Wow this is nuts! Hope it doesn’t catch and comes across the pond ;o(

  95. Erm…there is no blog tax proposed in Philly! Read this ……..
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/aug/26/philly-blog-tax

    • I read the article before. I don’t agree with it though.

      The author says ” Philadelphia levies a licence fee on small businesses.” Of which they consider blogging to be. That’s the issue.

      The best example I was able to come up has to do with collecting sports cards. If you buy a pack of baseball cards, pull out a card worth some money, and then sell it and make $50, is that now a business? Or is it a hobby?

      The same thing with blogging. If you’re just having fun, and make $10 a year (when you’re actually paying out more than that in domain name rights, plus server space and what not). Is that a business, or still a hobby?

      I think both fall under hobbies. And therefore, neither should be charged.

      Plus, in the article, the author quotes someone from the city (she never says who) as saying: “A blog or website that doesn’t generate revenue would not be considered a business.” That’s the same as saying that one that does generate revenue does constitute a business, and thereby, needs to get a licence. Even if the money made is less than money paid out by the blogger, even if it’s just for a hobby for some folks, and even if they blogger makes less money than someone pulling a good card out of a pack of baseball cards.

  96. That’s not a problem at all, here in Poland we had another issue about 2 years ago. As it turned out, according to Polish law, every single blog is a “newspaperp” (I mean, in the eyes of the law), so every blogger need to register it, become publisher and pay taxes because of this.

    Good things was, they realized how screw that law was and they changed it in time.

  97. Okay i stand corrected & stick by what I said the first time round—> It’s nuts!

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