Suppose you are a blogger that accepts advertising, and you reside in Philadelphia. You make $10 a year from the small blog advertisements you accept. It’s not much, but it’s something…until you get the bill from the City of Philadelphia for $300.
Philadelphia has a Business Privilege Tax that requires a license. A lifetime license costs $300; you can also buy a license for $50 a year. You will then also have to file the BPT returns each year and pay any tax owed. For the small-time blogger, it probably makes sense to avoid selling advertising as your $10 of profit just became at minimum a $40 loss.
Is Philadelphia within its rights to require a blogger who sells advertising to obtain a business license? Certainly. Overall, does it make sense? Well, that should be obvious.
Of course, Philadelphia is taking this one step further. The City of Brotherly Love requires a BPT license for, “any business…engaged in a for-profit activity in the City of Philadelphia.” So if you are a blogger in Philadelphia and set aside space for advertising on your blog but don’t sell ads, in the view of Philadelphia you need a BPT license. It’s not clear if Philadelphia is enforcing that part of their BPT yet, but they could.
There’s a solution, of course: move. If the City of Philadelphia has a bad tax structure, consider a nearby suburb. Unlike W.C. Fields, you may be far better off not being in Philadelphia.