Chinese authorities are investigating leading Chinese actor Zheng Shuang for tax evasion and exorbitant salary exceeding government-approved limits, Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday. This is the biggest case of suspected celebrity tax evasion since the fall of leading actor Fan Bingbing.
The investigation comes after screenshots emerged indicating that she was paid $ 24.6 million (RMB 160 million) for 77 days of filming – $ 320,000 per day – for her role in the upcoming series of 50 episodes “A Chinese Ghost Story”. The project is backed by Tencent and the struggling, but still leading production company, Beijing Culture, among others.
This incredible sum would make Zheng, 29, one of the highest paid actresses in the world, more than what Meryl Streep earned in 2020. It’s a payment that is more than double what Gal Gadot earned. for “Wonder Woman 1984” ($ 10 million) or Margot Robbie for “Birds of Prey” ($ 9-10 million), and more than five times what Joaquin Phoenix paid for his Oscar-winning performance in “Joker” (4 , $ 5 million), as reported Variety.
Last year, the three highest-paid actresses in the world were Sofia Vergara, who won $ 43 million, Angelina Jolie ($ 35.5 million) and Gal Gadot ($ 31.5 million), according to Forbes.
The offending screenshots appeared in a video posted on Weibo by his ex-partner, famous producer Zhang Heng. The couple are already known for another viral scandal in January after Zhang accused Zheng of abandoning him and their two children born in the United States through unwilling surrogates in the midst of a rupture, go through the legal processes that would allow them to leave the states between China. The issue has sparked a nationwide debate over the practice of surrogacy, which is illegal in China.
This time, Zhang’s screenshots appeared to reveal discussions between the couple and their parents over salary negotiations. She was initially offered $ 23.1 million (RMB 150 million) for the position, but attempted to negotiate up to $ 27.8 million (RMB 180 million).
He also said she abandoned her dog after he fell ill and did not want to pay the $ 300 treatment fee.
China’s main media regulator ruled in 2018 that most actors should receive salaries equivalent to up to 40% of production costs for film and television, and that major actors could receive up to 70% of the cost of production. total budget. A subsequent statement from the production companies and banners said the actors should be paid no more than $ 7.7 million (RMB 50 million) per production – less than a third of Zheng’s alleged transport.
She is currently under investigation by the Shanghai Municipal Tax Bureau and the Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau, which is also re-examining the broader issue of controlling actors’ wages.
Zhang alleged that his former partner was guilty of using “yin-yang” contracts – duplicate contracts where a smaller amount is reported than that sent to the tax office and the remainder of the payment appears on another.
Zheng signed a contract stating that his salary would be just below the threshold of $ 7.3 million (RMB 48 million), and another sending the rest of the fees to a company that appears to be related to his mother, a- he declared.
In 2018, Fan Bingbing was convicted of using the same “yin-yang” contract system. She was fined over $ 136 million (RMB 883 million) in penalties and back taxes and disappeared from public view for months.
Even after a creeping apology, a proper return of the star seems unlikely, given Beijing’s renewed attention to the importance of “celebrity morals” and calls for a lifetime ban on artists who break the law. Fan’s completed projects were never released except for one, who went straight to streaming and edited it from every shot.
Government data last year estimated that 600 million people in China earned a monthly income of $ 154 (RMB 1,000). Zheng would earn his annual salary of 12,000 RMB ($ 1,851) in three minutes, the South China Morning Post reported.
News of its fishing potential has sparked huge criticism and much discussion of income disparity and inequality on the Chinese web.
One social media user said that with an ordinary monthly salary of $ 770 (5,000 RMB), someone should start making money around 2,000 years ago under the Eastern Han Dynasty to match Zheng’s fees.
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