Ai Weiwei is ready to pony up the cash (8.5 million yuan) to the Chinese tax authorities, but they are not in agreement over the method of payment. According to Weiwei’s lawyer, the law dictates that they must guarantee the funds before they can dispute the assessment, but they have to be careful that the way they do it does not admit liability. They would prefer to provide the government with a bank deposit certificate and hold the funds in Weiwei’s account. The government, of course, wants the money wired directly to them. Full story here.
Weiwei is no idiot. He has reason to be concerned with wiring the tax authorities the payment, which amounts to $1.3 million. In the United States if your hard-earned money somehow finds its way into IRS coffers (by way of bank levy or wage garnishment), it is significantly more difficult to get it back than if it was never collected in the first place. No comment, by the way, on whether or not the funds earmarked for Weiwei’s tax debt were hard-earned given the fact that it was gifted to him by many of his political allies. I’m sure if Weiwei were to pay them the amount in dispute, and then win his tax case, getting that money back would be a procedural nightmare for his attorney.