Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Power to Tax

The Philadephia City Paper reports on a new scam by the government of the City of Philadelphia to raise revenue.
For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.
Of course, the first mistake was reporting whatever pittance she was earnng from the blog.
She's not alone. After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year, a number — though no one knows exactly what that number is — of Philadelphia bloggers were dispatched letters informing them that they owe $300 for a privilege license, plus taxes on any profits they made.
Read the rest here.

This new interpretation of an existing law also gives the city the power to shut down blogs they deem threatening or embarassing. The Washington Examiner has this to say:
To say that these kinds of draconian measures are detrimental to the public discourse would be an understatement.
That may, in fact, be the real purpose.

H/T to David Codrea.

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