Actress Fan Bingbing is best known in the west for her role as teleporting mutant Blink in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
This X-Men actress may be getting a visit from the tax man
But she might not be able to blink away from the authorities.
China’s tax authorities have ordered an investigation into allegations that celebrities are evading taxes by using a fraudulent dual contract system, state media reported on Sunday.
Anyone found to have broken the law “will be punished accordingly”, China Central Television reported.
Shares of China’s film studios and movie producers plunged on Monday in response to concerns that the investigation could shed light on a long-held practice in the industry.
Huayi Brothers Media, one of China’s largest studios, plunged by the 10% daily limit to a five-year low on the Shenzhen exchange. Wuhan DDMS Culture, which produces television drama and movies, fell by the same amount.
The news came after an online row erupted between well-known television presenter Cui Yongyuan and Fan Bingbing.
Last week, Cui published images of several documents to his account on the Twitter-like platform Weibo. He claimed the images were copies of two different contracts signed by Fan for the same job, with the principal difference between them being the size of the actress’s fee.
In one of the documents the figure was 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) and in the other, Cui said the contract was valued at 50 million yuan ($7.9 million). He did not name Fan directly in the second document.
Cui claimed that the deals were for just four days’ work, and questioned why two contracts were needed.
The insinuation was that Fan would only declare the smaller contract as income, leaving the as untaxed income. These are known in “yin-yang” contracts.
“Don’t bother acting, you really suck!” said Cui of Fan.
The tax authorities have identified Fan as the subject of a preliminary investigation into the allegations, Global Times reported on Sunday.
Fan Bingbing’s studio on Sunday night denied the studio or Fan had ever signed separate contracts for one job.
“The studio and Fan Bingbing will fully cooperate with relevant authority. We hope the investigation result can be released soon to answer the public doubt,” an unidentified studio executive was quoted as saying on Sina.com.
Cui was quoted by Chengdu Business News as saying he was willing to cooperate with investigation.
Fan, 36, rose to stardom with a minor part in the period drama My Fair Princess in 1998. The actress gained attention last week after paying more than $31 million for a duplex penthouse apartment in Shanghai.
She has topped the Forbes China Celebrity 100 list since 2013, which ranks celebrities by income and popularity alike. Forbes also listed her as the world’s fifth-highest paid actress in 2016, with earnings of $17 million. In 2017, however, Forbes placed her earnings at $47 million.
Additional reporting by Zhang Shidong.