China’s queen of live streaming fined $288m for tax evasion

Viya, 36, is renowned for her ability to sell "anything" on the Taobao Live platform via live streaming. She sold a missile launch service for 40 million yuan last year.

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Huang Wei participates in a campaign at Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, east China, September 23, 2021. /CFP

The tax authorities announced last night that China’s “queen of live-streaming” had been penalized 1.34 billion yuan (S$288 million) for tax evasion.

As per the report from the tax department in Hangzhou, eastern China, internet celebrity Viya, whose real name is Huang Wei, was penalized for falsifying personal income and other offenses in 2019 and 2020.

Viya, 36, is renowned for her ability to sell “anything” on the Taobao Live platform via live streaming. She sold a missile launch service for 40 million yuan last year.

She is perhaps the most prominent famous live-streamer to be attacked in a wide crackdown that commenced with tech monopolies and has since stretched to include private education, social media platforms, and celebrity culture.

While apologizing for the tax evasion on her Weibo account, she said

I’m deeply sorry about my violations of the tax laws and regulations. I thoroughly accept the punishment made by the tax authorities.

Tax evasion, a long-standing trend among China’s celebs, has so far ruined the careers of some well-known names in the entertainment business prior to the crackdown.

In September, the State Taxation Administration submitted a statement detailing attempts to enhance the tax system in the entertainment industry, involving live-streamers.

Two e-commerce live-streaming influencers were penalized nearly 100 million yuan last month after they have been reported to be under investigative process for personal tax evasion. 

Huang will incur a penalty rate ranging from 0.6 to 4 times the amount of tax avoided, as per the Law of the People’s Republic of China regarding the Administration of Tax Collection.

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