The City of Brotherly [PLEASE INSERT $300 TO READ THE REST OF THIS MESSAGE]

In an Orwellian move, Philadelphia has decided to increase revenue flow and put a dent in its debt problem by charging  Philadelphia bloggers a $300 business privilege license.  According to the City Paper, this fee will be levied on the account that a blogger has the potential to make money off of their blog, even if they have not yet made a profit off their blogs.  Letters have already been mailed  to Philadelphia bloggers demanding the fee.  A full vote on the manner takes place in September, where they will discuss enforcement and how to proceed with who they license.

This latest move hurts my head on so many levels and reactivates some of my worst criticisms about the state of politics and money in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia is hurting.  The budget is blown, the city scraping for money wherever it exists.  I understand that they are working to balance the budget and fix the deficit to the best of their ability.  However, using tactics such as these hurts the city more than it helps.

Here are just a few of the taxes and fees that people who work and live in Philadelphia have to pay:

  • City Wage Tax Residents:  3.93% on gross wages
  • City Wage Tax Non-residents: 3.5% on gross wages
  • Business Privilege License: $300 flat fee for running a business in Philadelphia
  • Business Privilege Tax: 6.45% on taxable net income
  • Real Estate Tax: 8.26% (total between city and school tax)
  • Outdoor Advertising : 7%

There are also school income taxes, liquor taxes, net profit taxes, hotel taxes, parking taxes, etc.

Philadelphia residents and businesses are being taxed beyond reason. When the rest of the country is providing incentives for small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, Philadelphia has gone the opposite way.  Without the incentive, entrepreneurs think twice about taking the risk or are forced to move out into the suburbs, causing a brain drain on the city.  Philadelphia is losing some of its best and brightest each and everyday.  The city penalizes innovation, creative thinking, discovery, the entrepreneurial spirit, hard work and dedication.

It penalizes the very people that make it great.

Philadelphia has a vibrant history.  It is the nation’s birthplace, the very symbol of independence, freedom, starting anew, a living symbol of  innovation as we built our nation from scratch.  And yet, the city dishonors it own history, denies its own spirit, denies its own citizens.  Philadelphia is its neighborhoods, its people.  Through the policy of  increasing taxes beyond reason, it will end up bankrupting the city both financially (more people and businesses moving out of the city equals a  lowers tax base) and cuturally.

This latest stunt just adds to the overall problem.  Furthermore, this fee is based on the POTENTIAL of those to earn money off their blog, even though the IRS considers what many of these bloggers earn as a hobby income, not as a business income.  It is a prohibitive cost to many, especially to those who blog a hobby, a creative enterprise, or a way to express their views.  It is a fee and a silencer put on the first amendment, whose existence took place in Philadelphia.

It is unacceptable.

We must not put a fee on a constitutional right.

We must not put a business fee on what is not recognized as a formal business.

Even though I do not live in the city proper, I have deep feelings for the city having grown up here.  I want our city to revitalize.  I want our city to be vibrant.  I want our city to maintain its culture.  I want our city to honor its people and their talents instead of trying to keep them down eeking every last cent.  I want our neighborhoods to become strong, healthy communities.

I want our city to practice the freedoms whose roots are deep within its hallowed halls.

It is crucial to the city’s  vibrancy to   challenge these laws and make our voices heard.  If we do not, if we remain silent, if we cynically accept this as the “way of Philadelphia”, her citizens will be silenced, her vibrancy will fail.  And we will have lost a treasure.

 

Corina Fiore is a photographer, curriculum designer, writer, and mother living in suburban Philadelphia.  She blogs at She Acts and Down to Earth Mama.

Cross-posted at She Acts and Down to Earth Mama.

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