C-pop star Zhang Yixing becomes public ambassador for tax service after a series of tax evasion scandals of Chinese celebrities
Published: Dec 22, 2021 10:25 PM
Zhang Yixing Photo: VCG

Zhang Yixing Photo: VCG

At the end of 2021, a group of Chinese celebrities including top livestreamers, continued to be exposed in tax evasion scandals and faced severe punishments. However, pop star Zhang Yixing, also known as Lay Zhang, is going against this practice and has become the official spokesperson of the tax services of Hunan Province.

The official Sina Weibo account of the Hunan Provincial Tax Service announced on Wednesday that Zhang, who was born in the province, was appointed as the public relations ambassador of the Hunan Taxation Service.

The post came with a photo that shows Zhang holding up his letter of appointment which declares him as ambassador, from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2023.

Zhang reposted the announcement saying that he is honored to become the ambassador. "Tax is from all of us and is used for us. I will witness the new services of taxation and gather the development power of taxing in the future with the Hunan Provincial Tax Service," the star wrote.

The announcement rushed to the top of the trending chart of Sina Weibo as soon as it was published and the related hashtag has been viewed more than 880 million times as of Wednesday night.

"Zhang's appointment proves to other celebrities that only if they pay taxes legally, their career can go further," a Chinese netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

Several cities asked celebrities on Wednesday to make a self-examination of their tax situation, and to "correct their tax problems before the end of 2021."

"In September, many celebrities and artists have contacted our department to conduct self-examination and have paid an overdue tax if necessary," said a notice issued by the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau.

"However, for certain individuals suspected of major tax evasion and who refused to cooperate and rectify after being reminded, the department has carried out legal inspections and chosen some key cases on serious issues for public exposure."

Beijing is not the only city implementing these measures. On Wednesday, multiple cities including Shanghai, East China's Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have issued similar announcements as well.

The announcement by the Hunan authorities follows a series of tax evasion scandals by Chinese celebrities, including top livestreamer Viya who was fined 1.34 billion yuan ($210 million) for evading taxes by the taxation authority in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province.

Viya evaded a total of 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) of other underpayments between 2019 and 2020 by concealing her personal income along with other false tax declarations.

Before that, tax problems ruined the career of many celebrities in Chinese entertainment industry. Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was ordered to pay 299 million yuan ($46.9 million) in fines, taxes and penalties for tax evasion in August 2021 and in 2018, actress Fan Bingbing was also fined 883 million yuan ($130.7 million) for tax evasion and other offenses.