One of China’s most prolific online sales influencers, Huang Wei, better known as Viya in her livestream persona, was fined a record 210 million dollars (1.34 billion yuan) for tax evasion.
Viya, who sells and moves millions of goods via livestreaming, allegedly failed to declare more than 700 million yuan in taxes between 2019 and 2020. According to Chinese news outlet SCMP Wei omitted reports of taxable income and commission fees and declared personal wages as corporate income, said the Zhejian Provincial Tax Service.
The colossal amount will send shockwaves to China’s powerful online influencers who sell goods via social commerce. Viya’s daily livestream audience regularly attracted tens of millions of consumers, especially during events such as Singles Day. On social media Viya has over 110 million followers.
35-year-old Viya sells everything from cosmetics and fashion to appliances and cars in her livestreams. Taking over 3 billion yuan on Singles day, her viewership doubled during the pandemic, said Bloomberg.
Viya is not the first celebrity to be scrunitised and punished by Beijing’s crackdown on big tech and big profit. President Xi Jinping’s vision for a more equal China and ‘common prosperity’ aims to curb excessive incomes, especially in the entertainment and technology sectors.
According to Reuters and AFP two e-commerce livestreaming influencers were reported to be under investigation for personal tax evasion last month and were together fined nearly 100 million yuan.