Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Blog Business and Licenses

Yikes, Philly is starting to pressure bloggers with ads to get a license for their “business.”

NEW YORK ( — Philadelphia bloggers were abuzz this week about a citywide move to crack down on citizens running a business without a license — which includes any local bloggers running ads on their sites.

The weekly Philadelphia City Paper kicked off the kerfuffle with an article spotlighting several small-scale bloggers who were startled to receive letters from the city demanding that they shell out up to $300 for a license allowing them to operate a local business. One of the recipients had raked in a whopping profit of $11 over two years from his blog.


Here come the pundits:

NBC’s Philadelphia website accused the city of “taking a step closer to an eerie Orwellian state where creativity is crushed in the name of ‘the greater good.'” Right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin blasted the city for “requiring a license for Internet activists and hobbyists to exercise their free speech.”


On the other hand, the Washington Post pointed out the city was merely following the letter of the law and treating businesses equally: “Bloggers running ads next to their copy shouldn’t be exempt if the requirement also applies to people selling old junk on eBay.”

Comments read comments(12)
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Carl Holmes

posted August 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I agree, in principle anyway. I blog to share my thoughts and ideas. The free speech is intact. I do not blog to make money. I do not post money making ads.
$11 dollars means it is just no profitable, so stop. But, if you make money get a license and claim the income responsibly like the rest of us.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Carl, I haven’t had ads from which I make money — well, a couple years back we made about 25 dollars from Google Ads — but by all means folks are to report their income.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Carl, I tried to edit and add another comment to clarify and BNet was down for a moment….
Why is a license required in order to get people to pay taxes?

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Adam Shields

posted August 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Does not the IRS have a category of “hobby income”. Why wouldn’t a local city have a similar category. 99% of bloggers would be in the hobby income category. I have made about $130 this year from my blog which doesn’t come close to paying for the expenses.

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Adam Shields

posted August 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I also wonder if Philadelphia is planning on suing Ebay Records to find out who has sold stuff on ebay and charge them for a license as well?
The problem here is that it seems from the Washington Post article that Philadelphia got the list of bloggers from the IRS. The few that actually listed their income to the IRS are the ones that are getting charged for a business license. So there is another incentive to just not report things on your taxes.

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Ken Schenck

posted August 25, 2010 at 3:34 pm

What this says to me–don’t move to Philadelphia.

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Allan R. Bevere

posted August 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I’m with Ken #6.

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posted August 25, 2010 at 4:36 pm

My wife and I moved for graduate school and weren’t able to sell our house, so we rent it out. The rent covers the mortgage, but not all the things we have to fix. We have never turned a profit on it in any year, and we haven’t sold it because we can’t afford to let it go unrented while it was on the market.
Despite annual losses, and the fact that it is our former residence, we still have to get a business license annually and pay the annual minimum tax (for corporations that don’t make money).
If I have to file as a business, I don’t feel so bad for bloggers. I just can’t wait until I have to get a license for my kids lemonade stand.

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Scot McKnight

posted August 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm

What would Ben Franklin say to all this?

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posted August 25, 2010 at 6:26 pm

robin@8–about the lemonade stand–don’t move to Portland Ore–this was an issue earlier this summer

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posted August 25, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Unless one has an established site there is no money-Wow!

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posted August 25, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Bloggers are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people running internet businesses out of their homes. The old industrial-age models are out of date.

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