Councilman wants to delete Philadelphia's 'blogger tax'

Posted: October 29, 2010

Councilman Bill Green wants to get rid of the phantom "blogger tax."

In August, the city was hammered with negative news reports alleging that it was charging bloggers who make small ad sales on their sites.

Although there was no actual city effort to make bloggers pay up, technically anyone generating income is supposed to pay for a business-privilege license - a onetime fee of $300 or $50 annually - as well as any relevant taxes.

Green plans to introduce legislation next week to change that. His bill would exempt from the fee anyone making less than $3,000 annually through activites deemed hobbies under federal law.

"The main purpose of this bill is to require people not to get a business-privilege license for income that is hobbyist or incidental," Green said.

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald declined to comment on the legislation until it's been introduced and the administration can review it.

In Council yesterday:

* Council members Donna Reed Miller and Curtis Jones Jr. introduced a resolution calling for hearings on police conduct. Miller said she was motivated by some recent reports of police abuse.

One incident that Miller cited was the September confrontation in West Philadelphia between Askia Sabur and police. On a YouTube video, cops are seen whacking Sabur in the head outside a Chinese restaurant on Sept. 3. Sabur suffered a fractured left arm, head gash and sore back. He was charged with assaulting two officers.

Fraternal Order of Police Vice President John McGrody said the union was happy to participate in the hearings, provided they are fair.

"Our position is that, as the Police Department does, we want a very ethical Police Department and a very honest Police Department," McGrody said. "We're willing to participate in whatever we need to do to achieve that goal. Where we do have a problem is if this is going to be a witch hunt to go after police officers."

* Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced legislation that would attempt to close the "Florida loophole" for carrying concealed weapons. The loophole allows Pennsylvanians who have been denied a gun permit or whose permit has been revoked to apply for one in Florida.

Currently, a Pennsylvania resident can obtain a nonresident permit to carry a concealed weapon through the mail from another state, even without a permit in Pennsylvania. Clarke's legislation would require anyone carrying a concealed weapon locally to have a Pennsylvania permit.

The state Supreme Court in a 1996 ruling declared that only the General Assembly has the power to regulate guns. Clarke said he thought that his measure would withstand challenges.

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