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.
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!