Artist and activist Ai Weiwei has confirmed that the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau sent him a notice saying that his company, Fake Ltd., owes a tax bill totaling 15 million yuan ($2.36 million), and requested payment within 10 days, according to the Associated Press.
Mr. Ai has refused to pay until Fake’s accounting books, which were confiscated by police, are returned to him. He told the AP:
“We can pay this money, but we need to know why we have to. … We cannot just unwittingly hand over a sum of money. This would be irresponsible toward the country.”
- “They told me in a serious manner, ‘If the country said you evaded taxes, then that’s what you’ve done and don’t hold any hope. Will the country ever take back what it says?’”
- “Staying quiet for this long, Fake Ltd. has never seen its accounting records. Our accountant and manager were threatened and not allowed to meet nor to communicate with us. Ha, they completely ignore the existence of me, the ‘actual controller’, isn’t this a robbery.”
- “To this day we haven’t seen the accounting book…”
The artist was held without charges for 81 days earlier this year, during which time a variety of politicians, activists and art world denizens called for his release. He has been prohibited from leaving China for one year.