Chinese Actress Fan Bingbing Is Fined Millions for Tax Evasion
China’s State Administration of Taxation said that, following an investigation, Fan Bingbing is to pay “hundreds of millions” of yuan in back taxes and fines. Calculations according to formulas issued by state news agency Xinhua suggest that Fan and her companies could be liable for a staggering RMB 883 million ($129 million). If she pays in full, she could avoid a criminal trial and inevitable conviction.
Hours after the report was released, Fan – who had disappeared from public view in June – issued an abject apology on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, admitting to tax evasion and saying she had let down her country and her fans. “Today I’m facing enormous fears and worries over the mistakes I made!” Fan wrote. “I have failed the country, society’s support and trust, and the love of my devoted fans!….I beg for everyone’s forgiveness!”
She said she felt “ashamed and guilty” for letting greed get the better of her, and accepted the authorities’ findings and penalties, adding that she would do her best to raise funds to pay the back taxes and fines. (See full apology here.) However, Fan did not say how she would raise the money, and her participation in projects such as “355,” the all-female action movie produced by Jessica Chastain and unveiled to major buzz in Cannes, is in doubt.
Fan is China’s highest-paid actress and a star of films including “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Iron Man 3.” Her troubles began early in the summer after she was accused by another celebrity of tax evasion.
The other celebrity used social media to post copies of two contracts purportedly relating to Fan’s role in the upcoming Huayi Brothers-produced film “Cell Phone 2.” The so-called “yin-yang contracts” were of different values, and the assumed purpose was to declare only the smaller contract to tax authorities. Fan and the production companies denied the accusations.
According to the investigation conducted by China’s State Administration of Taxation and tax authorities in Jiangsu province, where Fan’s company is registered, the actress was paid a total of $4.4 million (RMB 30 million) for her role in “Unbreakable Spirit,” a war action film that also stars Bruce Willis. Of that, only $1.46 million (RMB 10 million) was reported as taxable income. The rest, $2.9 million (RMB 20 million) covered by other contracts, was considered an evasion of personal tax worth $900,000 (RMB 6.18 million) and business taxes of $163,000 (RMB 1.12 million).
Fan has been the public face of such brands as Montblanc, Louis Vuitton, De Beers, and fashion house Guerlain. So far, only Montblanc is reported to have severed its connections with her, but she has been conspicuously absent from the other campaigns.