If bloggers want to be taken seriously then pay the piper!

Photo: Renjith Krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All sorts of things whiz by as I scan news from across the globe every morning. It’s a habit I find hard to break after more than two decades in a newsroom.  What jumped off the screen this AM was an article about the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, charging bloggers for a business license.  I laughed out loud and envisioned the “citizen journalists” banding together to stage yet another one of their cyber protests…..about something that is so unfair to them because they’re bloggers.

First, I must ask, is your blog merely an online diary you use as couch therapy or a manner of telling your friends about your day all at once?  If so, then Philly doesn’t want you.  However, if you are posting ads, even just those unsuccessful affiliate banner links which may generate a token $5.00 a year, you are a business.  You can’t have it both ways.

Here, as Lady Litigator, I don’t pretend to write for anything more than my amusement and perhaps that of others.  Occasionally, there may be bursts of shared enlightenment but I am not looking to generate income with this site.  You do not see one ad on this site.  On the other hand, visit Wanderlust Women Travel, Amalfi Blu…………even Wanderlust Weddings and you will observe the commercial nature of those sites.  I just want to make it clear.  There is no grey area here, although bloggers would like to set themselves apart from the rest of the writing community.

Bloggers have no qualms about soliciting “donations” for their sites via PayPal.  I laughed out loud the first time I saw that.  Really?  Donations?  Are they registered non-profit organizations?  Let’s not even go down that road because the IRS would like to have a discussion with you, I am sure.

Photo: Francesco Marino/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In Philly, city officials got wind of these “bloggers for income” because some of them actually reported the income on their tax returns.  It turns out government agencies talk with each other………duh!  Philly came a knockin’ and wanted their share via a business license.  The bloggers are all cryin’ because they don’t think it’s fair that they should pay $50 a year for the license if their blog only generates $5.00 a year.  Well, suck it up folks – life ain’t fair.  Can you imagine a large corporation telling the state tax department or IRS that they don’t want to pay the corporation franchise fee because they’re having a bad year and are in the red?  The license fee is a business expense and would likely be tax deductible…..but always check with your tax advisor for your own situation.

I find this is the whole problem with bloggers.  They think they are professional writers, citizen journalists who should be taken seriously as experts on whatever it is they’re blabbing about; yet, when it comes to behaving as professionals they run and hide or throw tantrums like children.  Freelance writers, professional freelance writers, struggle everyday to make a living and pay taxes and be considered seriously by editors and publishers.  Why should bloggers be treated any differently?  Oh, oh, oh, I know.  They’re the cyber version of a lemonade stand!


5 thoughts on “If bloggers want to be taken seriously then pay the piper!

  1. I’ll freely admit that I just write for the joy of writing. The fact that it seems to entertain other people is just icing on the cake.

    That said, I don’t really know where I stand on this issue. I completely see where the people who advocate a blog membership are coming from, but I don’t know if people who write just for fun should have to pay to do it.

    To be honest, though, it wouldn’t be that hard to convince me one way or the other.

    • Hi Peter and thanks for stopping by. Those who write for fun and the occasional snippet of insight, like you and I, would not be affected. Those who try to generate revenue would have to pay. I think that’s only fair……..otherwise, should they not then be considered blogger prostitutes? Looking to get paid through a back door, so to speak, without having to operate like a “business?” Generating revenue takes it out of the realm of being a hobby!

      • Very true. I definitely don’t approve of getting paid through the back door unless by “through” you mean “because of acts involving.”

  2. I absolutely think there should be a minimum profit for a blog (and perhaps other small businesses as well) before a business license would be required — and then it could even be retroactive to the previous year. Requiring so many fees upfront just isn’t small business friendly, and we all know that small businesses play a huge part in any economic recovery. If anything, we should be encouraging entrepreneurship now, not attempting to stifle it.

    As for blog “donations,” there’s nothing about the word “donations” that integrally links it with a “charity” as defined by the U.S. Tax Code. To donate is to give as a gift/contribution — and yes, those are taxable income, but you don’t have to be a charity to accept them.

    • Michelle, the practicality of imposing minimum revenue thresholds for business license fees is beyond manageable for municipalities which are generally understaffed. If someone is going to operate like a business then it should involve all that implies. $50 a year is not onerous for any “start-up.” Also, while not dissecting the IRS code, which is impossible for even the IRS, the connotation of the word “donate” implies some sort of charity to your average “Joe” or “Jane.” You will not find any new bricks and mortar “start-up” asking for donations in their storefront.

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