The two-year confrontation between the Federal Tax Service and Chizhov Gallery JSC, founded by Sergey Chizhov, State Duma deputy from the Voronezh region, ended in favor of the company. The court won will allow the largest mall in Voronezh to reduce payments to the local budget by almost 200 million rubles. Could the identity of the founder influence the decision of the court?
Didn’t even argue
At the beginning of 2021, the Interdistrict Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service No. 16 for the Voronezh Region issued two decisions to hold Chizhov Gallery JSC liable for committing a tax offense. In the course of a desk audit conducted in 2020, the tax authorities calculated the amount of tax on the property of the organization (we are talking about the third stage of the Chizhov Gallery shopping center, which includes a complex of elite apartments, at 18 Kukolkina Street, with a total area of 77.19 thousand sq. m. ), based on the tax base based on the book value of the property. While the company paid the tax, calculating the rate at the cadastral value – about 20 million rubles. in year. The difference turned out to be very significant, and the Federal Tax Service assessed additional taxes for the Chizhov Gallery in the total amount of 177.2 million rubles, including penalties and fines for non-payment.
The company did not agree with the decisions of the Federal Tax Service No. 16 for the Voronezh Region and appealed against them in an internal appeal of the regional Federal Tax Service. When this attempt was unsuccessful, Chizhov Gallery JSC filed two lawsuits with the arbitration court to cancel the additional tax assessment. The case was conducted by the judge of the Arbitration Court of the Voronezh Region, Irina Kostina. Proceedings on one of the two claims were suspended in August 2021 until a decision on the other claim comes into force.
And now, finally, the company managed to insist on its innocence. The Arbitration Court of the Voronezh Region invalidated the decision of the Federal Tax Service No. 16 for the Voronezh Region on holding liable for a tax offense and ordered the inspectorate to eliminate the violations of the rights and legitimate interests of Chizhov Gallery JSC. Interestingly, the Federal Tax Service did not challenge the court’s decision.
Experts believe that the decision on the second claim will also be made in favor of the company, since, based on the principle of “procedural economy”, in identical disputes the second decision cannot contradict the first.
“What’s in a name?..”
It should be noted that the decision made by the court caused a noticeable response. Agree, rarely anyone manages to win a dispute with the tax, and even for such a large amount. Who is Mr. Chizhov, whose name is the largest shopping center in Voronezh?
Until 2003, the Chizhov Gallery was called Megapolis. This company was founded by Sergei Viktorovich Chizhov in 1997 and united more than 20 organizations from various business areas: car service, personal services, agriculture, fashion industry, the media and others. The mall itself began to be built in 2008. The construction of this complex gave Voronezh more than four thousand jobs. The locals call the “Chizhov Gallery”, which has become a new architectural dominant and a place of attraction for the city, simply “MC”.
Sergei Viktorovich Chizhov, as far as is known from his official biography, was born in Moscow in 1964, in the family of a military man. Since 1975 the family lived in Voronezh. Sergei Viktorovich also has a brother and sister.
As for the perestroika period and the “dashing 90s” that followed it, the official biography says this in a streamlined way: “I was looking for myself in various areas of professional activity, like many young people who returned from the army to another country.”
“During this period, Sergey Viktorovich tried his hand at various sectors of the private sector of the economy – in trade, construction, and was engaged in individual entrepreneurial activities. As a result, he went from a line employee to a top manager and founder of one of the most successful companies in the Central Chernozem region, ”the official biography clarifies.
Now Sergei Viktorovich Chizhov is a State Duma deputy from the Voronezh region, a member of the United Russia party. In the region of election, public receptions of the deputy are organized, in which citizens can receive free legal advice and other assistance in resolving their life situations. He is also known as a philanthropist. At least four times Sergei Chizhov became the “person of the year” in Voronezh – this is how grateful citizens evaluate his work.
Two assassination attempts and a missing wife
In open sources, however, there is other information about a man named Sergei Viktorovich Chizhov, who is also called “Prince Lemon”. There are also stories about very unseemly deeds, even frankly criminal ones. Evil tongues list both the underground trade in counterfeit alcohol, and money laundering through a “pocket” bank, and “accidents” with lenders, various kinds of fraud and other bad deeds. But this, most likely, is just a full namesake of the respected deputy Sergei Viktorovich Chizhov, who, with his existence and his dirty deeds, discredits his good name. After all, it is impossible, in fact, to think that it could be one and the same person?
However, in the memory of Voronezh residents there are other stories associated with the name of Sergei Viktorovich Chizhov. For example, at the end of the “dashing 90s”, the then city deputy survived at least two attempts on his life. The press service of Chizhov’s Megapolis company then reported that “the assassination attempt was connected with attempts to prevent him from running for the State Duma.” However, the investigation worked out other versions related to Chizhov’s personal life and commercial activities. The assassination attempts were never solved, but Chizhov nevertheless ended up in the deputy chair.
In 2007, Sergei Chizhov was predicted to be the mayor of Voronezh. The then governor of Voronezh, Vladimir Kulakov, called him “the best candidate” and promised support if he was nominated. Chizhov, however, preferred the State Duma, citing “party discipline.”
A lot of gossip in the city was caused by the mysterious disappearance of his wife and mother of two children, Maria Chizhova. And along with it, on paper, billions and other assets of the deputy evaporated without a trace. If we compare Chizhov’s declarations for 2012, 2013 and 2015, then in the first his wife’s income is estimated at 47 million rubles. The second declaration no longer contains information about the spouse’s income. In the third, there is no longer any property: the deputy owns a plot of land and a motorcycle. But around that time, it became known that the part of the shares of Chizhov Gallery JSC that belonged to Maria Chizhova became the property of a certain Larisa Vinogradova, about whom practically nothing is known either.
The depositors of the Nadezhda credit union, created to save the Voronezh central city department store Rossiya, commemorate the deputy with an unkind word. At the beginning of 2000, the controlling stake in Nadezhda was bought out by Sergei Chizhov’s Megapolis, and after that, investors tried for more than thirteen years to return the invested funds. Only a few plaintiffs through the court managed to obtain compensation in the amount of 100 thousand rubles for the inaction of law enforcement agencies, 34 (!) times in a row they did not see the corpus delicti in the fact that people were not returned their money.
Much later, already in 2021, Chizhov Gallery JSC bought shares from Pavel Kakalia and Alexander Mushtaev, who owned 15% of the shopping center of the same name. At the same time, it was clarified that in order to complete the transaction, the buyer borrowed more than 2 billion rubles from a state-owned bank.
It is worth noting that Sergei Chizhov follows his public image very carefully. So, in 2003-2004, he sued the famous Voronezh writer Leonid Korobkov, who wrote a series of articles about the past of the deputy, and won these courts. The information published at that time was recognized as “untrue”, and the court ordered the defendants to pay the plaintiff two thousand rubles.
So the question arises: could such a person “push through” the necessary court decision on the suit of the organization he once founded against the Federal Tax Service? Could the court go towards a respected person in the region as a “goodwill gesture”?