The city of Philadelphia is demanding money from bloggers who were honest enough to report the meagerest – $11, $50 – of revenue from ads or donations.

According to the law, any blogger who enables advertising is required to register as a business, pay for a license and pay taxes on their profits no matter how small, the Philadelphia City Paper reported last week.

Philadelphia requires a license for the privilege of doing business when there is “activity for profit,” a tax attorney told the paper, even if the activity did not earn a profit the year before or may never turn a profit.

The license is $300 for a lifetime or $50 a year.

But the city only knows about the ads you’re placing on your freely-hosted blog if you report that income on your taxes.

At least two small-time bloggers are being asked to pay the price for their honesty. Marilyn Bess earned $50 between a few articles on and her WordPress-hosted blog about green living. She got a letter from the city demanding she pay $300 for a license plus taxes on her profits.

Another blogger, Sean Barry, writes about music on his blog Circle of Fits, hosted on Blogspot. He earned $11 in profit over two years and also received a letter.

As Barry wrote on his blog Friday:Bloggers are just a subset of workers affected by this regressive tax. According to the city’s strict rules, any freelancer based in the city qualifies as a business and needs to get the license.

I never expected Circle of Fits to “make money” or be deemed a “business”… I put ads on it as an experiment, and I don’t ever expect anyone to click on them..I don’t even know how to put the time in to learn how to control which ones are being presented.

We’ve heard of cities requiring licenses when things like food or building construction are involved. But blogging?

What are the rules for microbusinesses in your city?