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.

“The real kick in the pants is that I don’t even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous,” Bess says.

Apparently even a cat blog would be subject to a fee. Do these politicians even know what a blog is?

Found by Eddie DaRoza.




  1. bobbyg says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all-Pennsylvania is full of warped people, especially politicians. And no-I don’t think they have a clue what a blog is-for the most part they’re all clueless.

  2. nobody says:

    She was selling stuff… that’s all they see, and to operate a ‘business’ you need a license in their little ‘town’.

    It’s that simple.

    I’m glad I never sold tshirts or some other nonsense.

    Remember big brother is watching….

  3. Steve S says:

    Look, money for these “valuable government services that we all want” has to come from somewhere. We must all pay our “fair share”. This portion belongs to the city. It is”their money”.
    A public service announcement brought to you by your friendly city tax board.

  4. Scott M. says:

    Accumulate enough information and you can go mining for revenues. I wonder how many hours and dollars were expended in the effort to track down all these little fish.

  5. MikeN says:

    Wait a minute, this blog can be seen in Philadelphia, right? Do you have a license?

  6. Still Right says:

    Resist. Simple as that.
    Here in San Francisco, a simple expired meter parking ticket is $55.00.
    That’s a hell of a lot of money for somebody on a fixed income, struggling to make ends meet.
    I had a chance to challenge the head of the metropolitan transportation district on tickets when the board was talking of raising them again. Instead of admitting that the city uses them for a revenue stream, and needs people to constantly get tickets, and, in fact, the parking regulations, (8 minutes for 25 cents), is designed to produce tickets, he claimed they are solely meant to make people “turn over” parking places so merchants can do business. I asked him, then, why they kept getting raised year after year.
    “Isn’t $30 enough incentive? Don’t you think $55 is excessive and greedy?”
    He smiled and turned away. Asshole bureaucrat.

  7. bill says:

    Want to make some real money?
    TAX E-MAIL! FOOD/WATER? WEB SERVERS?

  8. Greg Allen says:

    Some blogs are clearly a business… most are not.

    It’s a blurry area but I understand where the city of Philadelphia is coming from.

    Of course conservatives think that businesses should have no regulations whatsoever – laws are only for the little people. I strongly disagree.

    One compromise is that one-person, income-generating blogs should come under freelancing regulations — like any freelance writers.

    But if a blogger hires staff, then it’s a business.

    Of course, ad-free blogs should just be un-regulated free speech.

  9. GetSmart says:

    Proxy server. Screw ’em.

  10. Guyver says:

    More fodder for political blogs who are not friendly towards the current administration and congress.

  11. Sparky_One says:

    I thought that you only had to license bloggers if you walked them in public.

  12. Rich says:

    Anyone here warming up to the Tea Party folks yet? What will it take?

  13. Alfred Persson says:

    Progressives run Philly…nuff said.

  14. RSweeney says:

    If it moves, tax it.
    If it stops moving, subsidize it.

    And people wonder why liberal policy doesn’t work.

  15. Cursor_ says:

    Don’t ask me what I want it for…
    Taxman!
    I’ll yank your server pull a 404.
    Taxman!

    Cos’ I’m the taxman, yea I’m the taxman.

    Cursor_

  16. birddog says:

    So does this mean that bloggers will be afforded the same protections as the mainstream media.

  17. #11 – Sparky_One,

    Good one!! Probably need to get ’em rabies shots as well.

  18. Alfred Persson says:

    I am quite sure the law is unconstitutional…freedom of the press is unqualified…no license or permits required.

  19. Narr0wM1nd says:

    This is simple, pay the $300. Then write off your ISP bills, computer, all expenses with regards to ‘research’ of posts. Oh and pay yourself from the company. You can do that for years and bring your income tax down to next to nothing. If they want the nuclear strike let them receive the fallout.

  20. Alfred Persson says:

    #19 In California there is a $500 minimum tax you pay even if losing money.

    Who knows what other can of worms that opens up.

    I’d post a few opinion pieces, perhaps join the jornolisters and get White House Talking points and call it news…

    Then President Hoover Obama will bail you out.

  21. clancys_daddy says:

    “That’s a hell of a lot of money for somebody on a fixed income, struggling to make ends meet.” I can’t tell you how much I hate the term fixed income, I don’t know anyone isn’t on a fixed income. I make the same amount every week if I work 40 hours. It doesn’t change from one week to the next or month to month. You fought a 55 dollar ticket, well whoop de fing doo. Next time put a flipping quarter in the meter. As for the charge for blog, its total BS and if fought would be overturned.

  22. jay says:

    I don’t see this as a problem. Pay the 300 dollars and right it off on your tax. while your at it, right-off your eclectically bill while blogging right-off the website hosting right-off the internet bill … do you see where i’m going. If Philly is calling blogger a business why making small amounts of cash. Bill the city back for your losses

  23. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    Pay the $300, then turn around and get a small business loan. Put in your application that it is for a “green” business. If they question if it is a hobby, show your new business license. They ask for $300, you ask for $3000. It’s the Philly way!

  24. MikeN says:

    Didn’t this city implement free internet?

  25. deowll says:

    Now, now, don’t get upset. As Dallas would say the rich people need to pony up to take care of the less fortunate. These mongols have money to burn after all and the government is just trying to take care of us by redistributing the wealth through the government to their worthy clients.

    No wonder these communities are going into the dumpster. Cut corruption and spending across the board!

  26. admfubar says:

    well she just needs to threaten the city with the line I’ll take my “jobs'” elsewere unless she gets a big ol’ fat tax cut from the city! just like every other business does! aint it great that america’s governments are run on a discount tax base? goverment infrastructure ins just wasting away..

  27. The Ox says:

    Misleading headline. Philly isn’t requiring a license to blog, they’re requiring a BPL to run a business.

    Blog for love of it, don’t sell ads or stuff and no BPL is required. Sell ads and stuff and you’re now running a biz and as such should be treated no differently than any other biz. I have no issue with it.

  28. The ox is a government --- says:

    Hey Ox

    [Deleted for violation of blog guidelines — ed.]

    what a l0zer

  29. License to Bribe says:

    We all remember the TV show “Roots” could this have been the real inspiration for AmeriChoice Health. The 101 Dumbest Moments In Business 2003 EDITION Whiffed pitch No. 6: blatant stereotyping. By Mark Athitakis April 1, 2003 (Business 2.0)– GRAND PRIZE WINNER, DUMBEST MOMENT OF 2002
    In September, insurance company AmeriChoice brings trucks to blighted neighborhoods in New York City and gives away coupons for free chickens as an incentive for the underprivileged to switch their Medicare coverage. New York state senator Carl Kruger files a complaint with the state attorney general. The 101 Dumbest Moments In Business 2003 EDITION – April 1, 2003 Apr 1, 2003 … Just don’t tell him about the “Chinese health balls.” ….. In September, insurance company AmeriChoice brings trucks to blighted … New York state senator Carl Kruger files a complaint with the state attorney general….. Falling on his sword, Welch announces he’ll give up most of the perks,…

    2009 and 2010 $120,000 from your tax dollars at work
    Philadelphia PA Mayor Nutter received two years in a row $60,000 checks to help keep open and operate the city swimming pools. These checks came from AmeriChoice Health and on the surface seems like fine gifts. Yet, they are Bribes non the less, these checks come from a company who receives all its money from the Federal State Governments as a vendor for Medicare Medicaid services is not allowed to offer bribes kickbacks and money gifts of any kind in order to promote its share of the market place. This is also not allowed as a use of your taxpayers dollars yet it happens.What does it really cost the City of Philadelphia to receive this money? Americhoice Health has a long history of corruption over the years yet seems to be protected by those who are responsible to over see their actions why is that? Sorry must apologize just received a notice that AmeriChoice Health was under the impression they thought they were suppose to have started their very own stimulus and economic program package and the one they implemented, they had no idea it violated all the Stark ,Health and Kickbacks laws. Some one will have to notify the following departments it was all a mistake or error in judgement, the Department of Justice, CMS, Dept of health and Human resourses,the FBI,and IRS, and any other agency effected by this tragedy or unfortunate misunderstanding. No harm, no fowl, forgive and forget, OK, then how about some coupons for a free whole fried chicken…..

    Among its provisions, the anti-kickback statute penalizes anyone who knowingly and willfully solicits, receives, offers or pays remuneration in cash or in kind to induce, or in return for: A. Referring an individual to a person for the furnishing, or arranging for the furnishing, of any item or service payable under the Medicare or Medicaid program; or B. Purchasing, leasing or ordering , or arranging for or recommending purchasing, leasing or ordering, any goods, facility, service or item payable under the Medicare or Medicaid program. Violators are subject to criminal penalties, or exclusion from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid rograms, or both. A violation of the anti-kickback law is a felony offense that carries criminal fines of up to $25,000 per violation, imprisonment for up to five years and exclusion from government health care programs.The federal anti-kickback statute, 42 U.S.C.§ 1320a-7b(b), prohibits individuals or entities from knowingly and willfully offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remuneration to induce referrals of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid or any other federally funded program.

    If this were any one person not a corporation they would be in jail now, if the FBI were called in on this matter they would be in jail now, if the IRS were notified they would be in jail now. Since all Ameri-Choice checks come from the United Health’s home office they should be held equally responsible for any bribes, kickbacks, Stark, Fraud and inducements violations that have occured. Federal and State Governments have developed such a depended position with this company that laws and rules no longer apply for them.This role is nothing new for the AmeriChoice people and its been going on for years, look at some of the prior news articles that date back for years only now they can afford to hire the best of Law firms and give the most for Political contributations all on the back of the taxpayer. Sure the Laws have become tighter but you can still dance away their problems.

    Three years ago they were reported to these Federal agency’s and as of todays date not only were they allowed to continue doing business but were never charged once. Protected vendor status sure, politics sure,limited government budgets sure, Federal and State officals looking the other way sure, and rather then stop these activities a strong desire not to rock the boat existed. Even with the vast changes in the laws and budgets,a hands off policy remains, you tell me what’s wrong with this picture? The Government created this monster and now they don’t know what to do about it, like shooting yourself in your own foot etc. Tons of money to advance their national growth, its market positions, tons of money for political donations, tons of money to send 75 millon back to its home office from New York state alone, tons of money to suppot National TV shows, tons of money to pay hugh State fines, tons of money to hire the very best law firms, tons of money to pay for bribes and kickbacks, tons of money for hugh salarys and bonuses, all done on the back of the American taxpayor, you see this company receives all its money from the Federal government. Should your tax dollars be held to a higher standard? Should the government agencys responsible for there review be held to that same standard?Should the IRS audit their corruption? Why has this company not been charged? How long can the buck be passed here in more ways then one? Hey, it’s your tax dollars don’t complain now then don’t complain later.

  30. red porch says:

    No problem. Here’s my fee: 5-cents – it’s digital too!


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