China Asks Influencers to Report Tax Violation by Year End after Top Livestreamer Fined $210 Million

More than 1,000 livestreamers moved to pay back taxes following the government guidance to tighten tax regulation in the entertainment industry in September.

BEIJING, December 22 (TMTPOST)— China is intensifying scrutiny of the booming livestreaming sector as a total of eight local tax authorities issued their warning and ultimatum to livestream stars and all the other celebrities of any illegal tax practices after a top livestream seller was fined millions of dollars.

Source: Visual China

All the celebrities including the influencers in livestreaming and star artists, if unaware of any tax law violations or lack of proper rectification through self-examination, shall not dawdle over self-inspection in compliance with the tax laws and regulations and relevant regulatory requirements and shall actively report their tax-related problems and correct them by the end of the year, the Taxation Bureaus of five provinces including Gunangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Henan and Guizhou as well as three first tier-cities—Beijing, Shanghai and Zhenzhen announced in their separate press releases on Wednesday. Celebrity taxpayers follow the latest requirements by the deadline would receive lesser punishment or impunit, while those who deny tax inspection or fail to make complete corrections would face severe punishment according to the law, these authorities said. A number of livestreamers and influential artists have contacted the authorities to review their tax declarations and pay back taxes since the State Taxation Administration (STA) released a guidance to tighten tax regulation on individuals and businesses in the entertainment industry in September, and the administrative agencies have conducted inspections over individual cases alleged to major tax evasions and made some of these cases public, the announcement noted.

The official warning came after Viya, China’s most popular livestreamer on e-commerce platforms who totaled sales of over RMB31 billion last year, was fined a record of RMB1.34 billion (US$210 million) earlier this week. The influencer was accused of dodging 643 million-dollar tax by hiding personal incomes and other financial offences between 2019 and 2020. Before her, two other high-profile Chinese live streamers — Cherie and Sunny were hit in November with more than RMB93.22 million (US$14.6 million) fine for evading more than RMB30.36 million and RMB13.11 million respectively.

There are more than 1,000 influencers who moved to pay taxes that are owed following the government guidance in September, the state media China News Service reported right after the Taxation Bureau of Hangzhou city announced enforcement on Viya’s tax dodge.   

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