Friday 20 April 2012

More art and tax

In further art and tax news, and by way of an update on much featured artist Ai Weiwei (including here, here and here), after his detainment, and the subsequent imposition of an enormous tax bill, by the Chinese authorities, it seems that Ai Weiwei is now suing the Beijing tax office.

Ai Weiwei is reportedly claiming that the Beijing tax office violated the law when it imposed the $2.4 million penalty for unpaid taxes and fines (as we reported here) on his company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd, and asking the Beijing court to overturn the penalty. He told Reuters that "In the handling of the whole process for [the company], some of [the tax office's] actions were illegal and violated regulations." In particular, it is claimed that the tax office failed to produce any original documents with evidence of the alleged tax evasion.

However, it seems that dealing with any Chinese authorities is not easy. Reuters reports that:

Ai's wife, Lu Qing, the company's legal representative, was due to hear by Friday whether Beijing's Chaoyang District Court would accept the suit challenging both the penalty and the lack of access to evidence and witnesses.

But the court told Lu on Thursday to produce the seal - a stamp embossed with the company's name which is used in China on all official documents - that was confiscated by police when Ai was detained last year.

"We can't get the seal back," Ai told Reuters by telephone. "It's in the hands of the police. It's very much a Catch 22."

Ai said Lu was giving the court an explanation on why the seal was missing in the hope it will waive the requirement. The court told Lu she will hear whether the lawsuit is accepted within the next seven days.
Given that there are clearly political, rather than legal, motivations behind the penalty, and now the difficulties with the court, it would be very surprising if the case was heard, let alone successful.

Source: Reuters, 19 April 2012

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