The Blogger Tax Question

by Chip Griffin on August 27, 2010

So there’s been quite a buzz recently about Philadelphia’s pursuit of bloggers in an effort to collect a “$300 tax.” Like most controversies surrounding social media, there’s some truth but plenty of hyperbole.

From the headlines, one might get the impression that the city has imposed a new tax on bloggers. Not true. One might then assume that the city is pursuing just bloggers for this tax. Not true.

Now, this doesn’t make the tax any better. Or the facts any less silly. But we need to — once again — knock the chip off the shoulder of the blogosphere.

Let me be clear: this is a stupid tax. At its root, there’s a semi-legitimate basis. It has to do with registering companies by requiring them to obtain a license to do business and then taxing the profits of those endeavors. Virtually every state, city, and county accounts for this sort of activity in some fashion.

Here are the issues that I have with the situation:

  • There are simply too many taxes and regulations, making it particularly difficult for small businesses and freelancers (including bloggers) to be in compliance even if they want to.
  • There ought to be minimum thresholds for requiring compliance. A blogger with $30 in annual ad revenue shouldn’t have to file. What’s next? Going after kids’ lemonade stands?
  • Bloggers need to accept that if they’re putting up advertisements and collecting checks — no matter how small — they are still a business. And until the laws change, they are required to comply — and they should do so. If you don’t like it, take the ads off your site.

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