Viya, China’s most famous influencer, fined $210 million for tax evasion

China has imposed an unprecedented $210 million in fines on a top streamer for tax evasion, stepping up President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on online influencers who have became extremely popular in recent years.

Huang Wei – also known as Viya – has been ordered to pay 1.34 billion yuan in taxes, late fees and fines, the State Tax Administration said Monday in a statement. statement on its website. She evaded taxes totaling 643 million yuan by concealing her personal income and making false declarations in 2019 and 2020, the statement added.

Shares of China’s largest operators and live-streaming services fell in New York, with Bilibili Inc. down 11.6%, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. down 5.8% and Joyy Inc. down 4.7%.
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Huang issued an apology shortly after the punishment was announced, speech on her Twitter-like Weibo account that she feels “deeply guilty.” “I fully accept the tax administration’s decision and will actively collect money to pay the fine within the deadline,” she wrote.

Viya’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The fine is the largest ever for online sellers like Viya, who compete nightly to convince shoppers to spend millions on items such as cosmetics, home appliances and clothing. . Influencers are one of the biggest stars in Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace, driving traffic and driving consumption.

Government agencies need to better coordinate and step up efforts to regulate the live-streaming industry and crack down on tax evasion, Xinhua said in a report on Tuesday.

Using data analysis, the tax bureau in the city of Hangzhou suspected Huang of tax evasion, and she failed to remedy the situation after repeated reminders, the report said.

The episode signals Beijing is turning its attention to the streaming commerce sector, which has thrived with little regulation in recent years, as part of Mr. common prosperity drive to share the wealth. The high-profile case could lead merchants and business brands to rely on this format to drive sales, not only at Alibaba but also on some of its competitors’ platforms.

In September, the tax authorities announced tougher Rule including celebrities and streamers, and last month two of the salespeople were fined a total of $15 million for income tax evasion. The Taobao and Weibo pages for Zhu Chenhui and Lin Shanshan are all blank.

Live streaming is part variety show, part commercial information and part group chat – a format pioneered in China that has become more popular since the pandemic began. Live-streaming sales are expected to hit more than 1.2 trillion yuan this year, up from just 19 billion yuan in 2017, according to the research firm. iiMedia.

Viya has total revenue of more than 31 billion yuan in 2020, the highest among her peers, technology media outlet report earlier.

Her fine is bigger than the fine tax about actress Fan Bingbing in 2018, marking the beginning of the government’s campaign to rein in the entertainment industry. Fan and the companies with which she was affiliated had to pay about 884 million yuan in taxes and penalties.

Fan almost disappeared from the entertainment industry since she was fined. Such high-profile rebukes from the central government often mark the end of a celebrity’s career.

“Everyone is equal before the law, there are no ‘superstars’ or ‘rich and powerful’, no one can disregard the law and hope for luck,” Xinhua said in a commentary. about Fan.

–With support from Yujing Liu. Viya, China’s most famous influencer, fined $210 million for tax evasion

Aila Slisco

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