This morning I read that Philadelphia is charging bloggers a business privelege fee just like anyone else doing business in the city - which is $300 + taxes on the income. My first thought was along the lines of, "Where will the taxation STOP?"
After a bit, I started wondering if we bloggers have enjoyed a business privelege without paying the price that other businesses pay as a normal course of responsibility. Many people get a decent amount of income from their blogs - affiliate marketing can produce a good income stream for some, others like myself generate income indirectly as a result of the traffic generated by their blogs (about 70% of my clients find my real estate practice via my blog).
Should I be any different from the restaurants, architects, attorneys & auto repair shops in my community? Probably not. I don't want to pay more fees and taxes, but as a business owner and good citizen, I should not be treated any differently than other businesses. It isn't fair.
Several questions come to mind concerning the business license aspect of it though:
- Will a business with an existing license have to pay another fee for their blog? (Double taxation?)
- How will local governments enforce such a measure? (Most of the time my blog is written & published in the county, not the city)
- Will multiple, interrelated social media platforms be taxed? (Facebook, Twitter, etc)
- What about the legal aspects of a blog that is hosted in another state? Will that dictate the actual residence of the blog itself? (visualizing all sorts of hosting operations popping up in low-tax states)
- Do cash-strapped governments actually have the staffing or technical experts to truly exercise measures like this?
All in all, it comes down to this: The Philadelphia Experiment is an indicator of the future. Blogging for fun & profit will soon face more governmental fees. We all know that the marketplace has changed to cyberspace...and we're going to have to pay for it as cities & other governmental structures catch up.
It has been a nice ride, for free, for a while. Gotta pay the piper someday.