After a little over two years without in-person sessions due to the pandemic, the Administrative Board of Tax Appeals (Carf) has resumed in-person work, now under new management, presided over by Board Member Carlos Henrique de Oliveira.

The first step in the return to the pre-pandemic scenario was taken with the publication of the agenda for the 1st Panel of the Superior Chamber of Tax Appeals for the month of July, with the indication that the session would be in person. This is the only Carf group that is holding judgment sessions, since the others do not have a quorum due to the adhesion of the board members representing the National Treasury to the strike movement of the category.

At the beginning of July, ME Ordinance 5,960/22 was published, regulating in-person and hybrid judgment modalities at the agency. 

The ordinance provides for the possibility of hybrid sessions, with the remote participation of the parties and the majority of the board members of the panel, thus following the procedure that was adopted by most courts of law in the post-pandemic scenario.

Under the terms of the ordinance, if it is not possible for more than half of the panel to attend in person, the session will be converted into a virtual session, in which case the parties will be allowed to withdraw the case from the agenda for a judgment in an in-person session.

Attention is drawn to the fact that there is no deadline for Carf to announce the presence of the board members and the possible change in the judgment modality, which may lead the parties to incur unnecessary expenses of time and resources if conversion of the in-person session into a virtual one takes place at the last minute.

The ordinance also provides for the possibility of removing a case from the agenda of a in-person session for a judgment in a virtual session, provided that the request meets certain procedural requirements. What is new is that there is no deadline to formalize this request for withdrawal; it only has to be done before the beginning of the judgment.

In order to optimize the judges' work and the smooth running of sessions, the Carf will also make it possible to transfer judgments to other days and/or times within the same meeting, at the parties' convenience.

The idea is that the sessions will be broadcast live on the Carf's Youtube channel, allowing interested parties to follow the judgments of their own cases and those of their interest. The agency also met a long-standing request from lawyers and will now make the recorded sessions available on its website, thus giving greater publicity to judgments.

Overall, the changes are beneficial. But the big challenge now is to guarantee the return of the judgments of the other Carf panels, in any of the session modalities, in view of the stoppage of the tax auditors, which is preventing the agency from functioning.