Chinese online sales queen Viya fined $ 210 million for tax evasion

BEIJING, Dec.20 (Reuters) – The “Chinese live streaming queen” has been fined 1.34 billion yuan ($ 210.16 million) for tax evasion, tax authorities said on Monday.

Internet celebrity Viya, real name Huang Wei, was fined for hiding personal income and other offenses in 2019 and 2020, according to the tax office in Hangzhou, a city in southern China.

She apologized later.

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“I am deeply sorry for my violations of tax laws and regulations,” she said on her Weibo account. “I fully accept the sanction imposed by the tax authorities.”

Viya, 36, is known for her ability to sell “anything” via live streaming on the Taobao Live platform. Last year, it sold a rocket launch service for 40 million yuan.

At a recent online shopping festival known as Singles Day, she sold products worth a total of 8.5 billion yuan (in one evening, according to media reports.

Viya is the latest celebrity livestreamer to be caught in a massive crackdown that initially targeted tech monopolies but has since taken on private education, social media platforms and celebrity culture.

Before the crackdown, tax evasion, a centuries-old practice among Chinese celebrities, had already sunk the careers of several well-known figures in the entertainment industry.

Viya, however, represents a new generation of celebrities, whose meteoric rise to fame has been fueled by the equally dizzying growth of China’s e-commerce industry, many aspects of which have come under regulatory scrutiny. .

Two live e-commerce influencers were reportedly investigated for personal tax evasion last month and together fined nearly 100 million yuan. Their live streaming services have since closed.

Viya was scheduled to perform a live broadcast at 7 p.m. Monday, focusing on cosmetics. A check of his Taobao live streaming studio showed that a reminder of the event had been removed.

The State Tax Administration issued a notice in September announcing measures to strengthen tax administration in the entertainment industry, including streamers.

The office said anyone who reports and corrects tax-related wrongdoing would be punished more lightly or even exempt from punishment. More than 1,000 people had taken the initiative to pay back taxes, according to state media.

($ 1 = 6.3762 yuan Chinese renminbi)

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Report by Sophie Yu in Beijing, Eduardo Baptista in Hong Kong; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Robert Birsel

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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