Chinese E-Commerce Livestream Hosts Suspected of Tax Evasion, Authorities Say Amount is “Shocking”

According to a report by The Beijing News on Tuesday, the recent case of Viya, a livestream host who was fined 1.341 billion yuan ($210.47 billion) for tax evasion, represents just the tip of the iceberg. At present, the tax supervision department is still in the process of supervising the tax situation within the country’s sprawling live e-commerce industry.

Due to the sector’s high output and broad influence, the tax department dispatched some specialized groups to the companies where other leading anchors operate, such as Qianxun. Moreover, all parties discussed the proper time to announce the rest of the leading anchors, and the specific punishment will not be announced on the same day. According to an insider at the tax department, the State Taxation Administration of the People’s Republic of China has the list of thousands of anchors now and will further verify their tax payments.

The insider at the tax department said that law enforcement officials have been checking the precise degree of tax evasion. In addition to Viya, some leading hosts suspected of the offence have not been disclosed, and each of them has been paying the taxes they had previously evaded. The more investigations, the bigger the loopholes. The specific data cannot be disclosed, but it is known that “the amount is shocking – at least several hundred million.” The above statement is also confirmed by Viya’s tax evasion of more than 600 million yuan ($94.17 million).

In September, Chinese tax regulators issued a special notice to clarify that if the livestreamers can take the initiative to report and correct tax-related problems in time before the end of 2021, they can be given a lighter punishment, or may even be exempted, according to relevant regulations. According to state-run Xinhua News Agency, thousands of people have taken the initiative to check their records and pay back taxes.

SEE ALSO: Livecast #13: Raymond Huang, ex-CSO of MOGU, the 1st Livestreaming eCommerce Company in China

On December 20, the Hangzhou Tax Service announced that Huang Wei (Viya) had evaded taxes totaling 643 million yuan ($100.92 million) by concealing personal income, fabricating false declaration of business conversion income and other means from 2019 to 2020, and other underpaid taxes of 60 million yuan ($9.42 million), resulting in a total fine of 1.341 billion yuan.

On November 22, the tax department of Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province announced the proposed punishment of hosts Sydney (real name: Zhu Chenhui) and Lin Shanshan for tax evasion. Due to the offences, they will recover the taxes, be surcharged for overdue payment and fined 65.55 million yuan ($10.29 million) and 27.67 million ($4.34 million) yuan, respectively.

According to iResearch, the scale of the Chinese livestreaming commerce market exceeded 1 trillion yuan ($156.95 billion) in 2020 and is expected to reach 4.9 trillion yuan ($769.05 billion) in 2023. In 2020, turnover from store broadcasting accounted for 32.1% of the total livestreaming commerce, and it is expected to account for nearly 50.0% in 2023.