China collects $2b in unpaid taxes from celebrities

Actress Fan Bingbing was ordered to pay about US$129 million (S$175 million) in overdue taxes and fines last October.
Actress Fan Bingbing was ordered to pay about US$129 million (S$175 million) in overdue taxes and fines last October.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI • Chinese authorities have collected more than 11 billion yuan (S$2.2 billion) in unpaid taxes from celebrities and entertainment companies since they hit the industry with a crackdown.

State media Xinhua, citing the national tax bureau and content watchdog, said the campaign, which began in October, had ended and companies and workers had been ordered to correct their tax records.

The most famous star to get caught up in the clampdown was actress Fan Bingbing.

She was ordered to pay about US$129 million (S$175 million) in overdue taxes and fines in October, after a four-month disappearance from the public eye.

Fan issued an apology, saying she accepted the decision, would overcome "all difficulties" to pay the penalties and would step up supervision of her companies.

Industry insiders have lamented that a "cold winter" has descended on the business since the authorities launched the checks, with film projects stalling and investors selling off related company shares.

Huayi Brothers Media Corp, a company linked to Fan, has seen its share price halved since last year, while movie box-office revenue growth in the world's second-largest market after the United States slowed last year.

 

The authorities said the industry should set its mind at rest and focus on work, but added that it would continue to target companies and individuals deemed highly exposed to tax-related risks.

Industry workers should "practise socialist core values... and strive to be entertainment workers with belief, empathy and sense of responsibility in the new era", the authorities said, according to Xinhua.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'China collects $2b in unpaid taxes from celebrities'. Print Edition | Subscribe