China investigates and will punish rich tax avoiders, starting with celebrities

China has announced a probe into people who have avoided taxes, and has vowed to implement guidelines that were issued in March this year on taxing high-income and high-net-worth individuals. First in the firing line are pop stars and actors.

On August 17, Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 made a speech calling for China to “clean up and adjust excessively high income.”

  • Official voices have since tried to reassure the rich that the government does not intend to confiscate their money, but high-net-worth individuals in China are probably not sleeping that well, and this news won’t help:

Today, the State Taxation Administration announced a probe into people who have avoided taxes, and has vowed to implement guidelines that were issued in March this year on taxing high-income and high-net-worth individuals (see English and Chinese reports).

First in the firing line are pop stars and actors.

Celebrities are in the spotlight

After yesterday’s news that actress Zhào Wēi 赵薇 is in some kind of trouble, media reports and rumors have suggested today that other celebrities may be under investigation for tax problems:

  • Actress Zhèng Shuǎng 郑爽 is facing a $46 million fine for tax fraud, “in line with common prosperity goal as China tightens regulation on tainted celebrities,” as the state-run tabloid Global Times puts it.
  • Zheng was the subject of a scandal in January this year when allegations emerged that she had abandoned two babies born in the U.S. by American surrogate mothers. In April this year, the authorities launched an investigation against her for tax avoidance.
  • The Global Times says the action against Zheng is part of a campaign against “the high-earning entertainment industry and several entertainers who have violated the law or have moral taints.”
  • Such tainted people, says the nationalistic rag, “were not allowed spotlight and got their works removed from online platforms.” Included in this group along with Zhao Wei and Zheng Shuang are Chinese-Canadian popstar Kris Wu (Wú Yìfán 吴亦凡), “who was detained by Beijing police for suspected rape, and actor Zhāng Zhéhàn 张哲瀚, who came under fire for visiting Japan’s notorious Yasukuni Shrine, and TV host Qián Fēng 钱枫, who was accused of rape with the case still in investigations.”

Author: Jeremy Goldkorn, SupChina

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