A top Chinese live-streaming influencer known as Viya was fined roughly $210 million for tax evasion, agency says.. A top Chinese live streamer has been hit with a $210 million fine for tax evasion by the country’s State Taxation Administration, according to a Chinese press release translated to English.
Huang Wei, known online as Viya, is one of the biggest stars on Alibaba’s digital clothing marketplace Taobao, where influencers try to sell items to viewers on live streams, according to Bloomberg. She had over 80 million followers on Taobao and 18 million on Weibo, the microblogging platform, according to the Daily Mail.
The influencer is accused by the Chinese government of evading taxes from 2019 to 2020 by concealing her personal income and falsely declaring some income sources, the press release said.
Huang faces a fine of 1.341 billion yuan (slightly over $210 million) after she evaded or underpaid 703 million yuan in taxes, according to the State Taxation Administration press release, which equates to around $110 million.
She wrote an apology on her Weibo account soon after the Chinese governmental agency’s announcement, writing that she was “deeply guilty,” accepted “the decision of the regulator,” and would pay the fine, Bloomberg reported.
Huang’s accounts on Taobao Live, Weibo, and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, were no longer available as of Monday, when she was scheduled to do a cosmetics-themed live stream on Taobao, Reuters reported.
Huang is known as an exceptional sales personality who sold a rocket launching service in 2020 for 40 million yuan, or over $6 million, Reuters reported. During one stream in 2020, Huang had over 37 million users tuned in to her broadcast at once, according to Bloomberg.
The livee-commerce market has seen explosive growth in China, with the consulting firm KPMG estimating that the market could be valued at approximately 1 trillion yuan last year, or $156 billion, according to the South China Morning Post.
China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Services said in May that streamers who specialized in selling products would fall under a new occupation category called “Online Marketers” and that the number of people in the profession was growing by almost 9% every month, according to Protocol.