Amanda Hiller, Acting Tax Commissioner and General Counsel
Amanda Hiller began serving as Acting Tax Commissioner on April 23, 2021. She continues in her role as General Counsel, a position she has held since December 2012.
As Acting Commissioner, she directs the activities of more than 3,700 employees whose mission is to efficiently collect tax revenues in support of state services and programs while acting with integrity and fairness in the administration of tax laws. Toward that end, the department promulgates tax regulations; publishes forms, instructions, and guidance; engages in taxpayer outreach and education; processes tax returns; resolves filing errors and taxpayer protests; conducts audits; engages in civil and criminal enforcement activities; litigates tax disputes; and manages the state treasury.
As General Counsel, she is responsible for legal policy and matters of law for the department. She oversees the Office of Counsel, which provides legal services for the department. These services include litigation; internal and external Tax Law advice; the preparation and review of legislation; and other administrative matters.
Over a 30-year career in public service, Amanda has held senior positions in the legislative, judicial and executive branches, as well as in the nonprofit sector.
She earned her law degree from Albany Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Oswego.
Michael Shollar, Executive Deputy Commissioner
Michael Shollar was appointed Executive Deputy Commissioner on December 10, 2021.
He most recently served for about three years as Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Processing & Taxpayer Services. In that role, he oversaw the Office of Processing Services, the Contact Center Division, and the Office of Real Property Tax Services.
Career background: He joined the Tax Department in June 2015 as Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk, and Compliance, responsible for directing our Office of Risk Management. This role reinforced his belief that he was part of “a special agency,” he said, where there’s “a real sense of purpose in the work we do and pride in doing it well.”
His career in public service began with a 10-year stint as an Assistant District Attorney in the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office in Staten Island, New York, where he led organized crime investigations and handled numerous appellate matters.
Education: He earned his law degree from Northwestern University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of Rochester.
As a law student, he worked with the Legal Aid Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago during the real-estate crisis, helping victims of mortgage fraud.
Joseph Carzo, Audit Division Director
Joe Carzo was appointed Audit Director in September 2013 after a five-year stint as Director of the Income Franchise Field Audit Bureau. Before then, he served as Director of the Sales Tax Audit Bureau.
Joe leads a division with about 1,360 employees who perform diverse audit, compliance, and enforcement activities involving personal income tax, franchise/corporation tax, sales and transaction taxes, and more than 20 miscellaneous tax laws. They deter noncompliance and encourage voluntary compliance to help ensure that honest taxpayers don’t bear an undue share of the tax burden.
Career background: Joe joined the department in 1990 and has served in 11 different positions in four divisions. He began his career as an auditor, then joined the former Technical Services Division before assuming leadership positions in the former Client Services Division and the Taxpayer Services and Revenue Division.
Education: He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. John Fisher College.
Richard D. Cletus, Deputy Commissioner of Systems Innovation
Richard Cletus was appointed to lead our new Systems Innovation Division in September 2022 after 26 years in the information technology industry, including 15 years directing complex, multi-phase projects.
He will now oversee project teams dedicated to enhancing the taxpayer experience and our efficiency by reimagining and modernizing critical systems.
Career background: He most recently served as a NYS Portfolio Business Solutions Director and as Business Solutions Director for the Tax Department, and continues to coordinate technology-driven advances here and at several other state agencies. He’s earned several statewide awards, including for his help launching our transformative e-MPIRE system. Before joining the public sector, he worked for several technology consulting firms and startups.
Education: He earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering from Madras University, India, and has taught information technology and project management as an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Christopher Curtis, State Treasurer
Chris Curtis was appointed New York State Treasurer in May 2016. Among other responsibilities, the Division of Treasury shares joint custody of the state's general checking account with the Office of the State Comptroller, manages billions of dollars in investments, and authorizes the release of all state payments. The Division is also the sole custodian for state public authorities that focus on renewable energy, affordable housing, dormitory facilities, and financial services. Chris serves on the Boards of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the New York Secure Choice Savings Program and previously served as Deputy State Treasurer for two years.
Career background: Before his Treasury appointment, Chris managed the state's $57 billion debt portfolio at the New York State Division of Budget, serving with the group that helped the state contend with the 2008 financial crisis by restructuring billions of dollars in variable rate instruments and interest rate swaps. Chris began his career at the United States Department of the Treasury as a financial economist focused on federal loan guarantee programs.
Education: Chris earned a master's degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Siena College.
Valerie DeBerry, Senior Advisor for Taxpayer Experience
Valerie DeBerry joined our Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) in January 2016 after serving two years as a special assistant to the Commissioner at the NYS Department of Civil Service.
As Senior Advisor for Taxpayer Experience, Valerie is uniquely tasked with exploring creative ways to provide simple, user-friendly communications and guidance to New York State taxpayers.
Career background: Before joining Civil Service in 2014, she gained extensive executive experience primarily in the private sector creating operational and strategic alignment between HR departments and the operating units they support.
She was the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for First Niagara Bank, headquartered in Buffalo, and served three years as the Executive Director of Human Resources for the Buffalo Public Schools, where she developed and implemented HR practices to more effectively support student achievement.
Valerie also has experience in manufacturing operations, insurance and financial services, and healthcare and information technology consulting from her years working at Proctor & Gamble, Cigna, Computer Task Group, Kaleida Health, and Graphic Controls.
Education: She earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies at Barnard College of Columbia University.
Kristin Dence, Deputy Commissioner of Processing and Taxpayer Services
Kristin Dence was appointed to lead the Office of Processing and Taxpayer Services in December 2021.
In this role, she oversees about 1,000 employees who work in the Office of Processing Services, which processes more than 26 million returns across more than 40 tax types; the Contact Center Division, which handles 2.5 million calls annually; and the Office of Real Property Tax Services, which works with nearly 1,000 local governments to administer more than $50 billion in real property taxes annually.
Career background: Before her appointment, Kristin served for about six years as Director of the Audit Division’s Income/Franchise Desk Audit Bureau, managing operations, programs, and audit plan preparation and tracking.
She joined the department in 1994 as a corporation tax auditor after more than one year in the private sector as a corporate bookkeeper. She then rose through the auditing ranks, taking on progressively greater responsibilities and coordinating complex programs and technology advances.
Education: Kristin, a CPA, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in accounting from Siena College and an associate degree in business administration from Hudson Valley Community College.
Darren Dopp, Director of External Affairs
Darren, who joined us in January 2020, leads the Tax Department’s External Affairs Division, which is composed of the Communications, Community Outreach, and Legislative Affairs offices. He helps coordinate financial education, the free file program, enhanced language access and other initiatives designed to improve the taxpayer experience.
Career background: He has broad experience in the public and private sector. He most recently served as Senior Vice President for Communications at the Healthcare Association of New York State. Before that, he was a communications consultant representing good government groups and public sector unions. He was a top aide to two governors, an attorney general and legislative leader in New York. He began his career as a correspondent for the Associated Press.
Education: He has a master’s degree in public affairs from the American University in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Karen Geduldig, Deputy Commissioner of the Civil Enforcement Division
Karen Geduldig was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Civil Enforcement Division in January 2022. She will also oversee our Office of Professional Responsibility, which regulates nearly 40,000 registered tax return preparers and facilitators.
Career background: Karen has served in several leadership positions with New York State. She most recently served for three years as Associate Chief Information Officer at the State University System of New York (SUNY). Before that, she served as both Executive Deputy Chief Information Officer and General Counsel at the NYS Office of Information Technology Services (ITS).
Other public service:
- Director of the Office of Telecommunications at the NYS Department of Public Service for nearly two years beginning in December 2015.
- Bureau Chief of the NYS Attorney General’s Internet Bureau for more than one year, preceded by five years as an Assistant Attorney General in that bureau.
Private sector: She began her career working for three years as an associate attorney (litigation) at the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery.
Education: She graduated with a law degree from Hofstra University School of Law and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and creative writing from The George Washington University.
Lauren Grasso, Chief Risk Officer
Lauren Grasso was appointed Chief Risk Officer to lead our Office of Risk Management in January 2022.
Career background: Before joining us, she served in the Executive Chamber for about eight years, most recently as Director of Administrative Services, and before that as Assistant Counsel to the Governor, and as Chief Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Officer.
From 2008 to 2014, she was an Assistant District Attorney in the NYS Orange County District Attorney’s office, working mainly in the Appeals and Special Litigation Bureau. In that role, she argued numerous cases before the Appellate Division, Second Department, and once before the Court of Appeals.
Before attending law school, she worked as a research associate for a healthcare consulting and research firm in Washington, D.C., and in the office of then-Representative Benjamin L. Cardin (now U.S. Senator Cardin) of Maryland.
Education: She earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2007 and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2002.
John Harford, Deputy Commissioner of Criminal Investigations
John P. Harford was appointed Deputy Commissioner of our Criminal Investigations Division (CID) in November 2016.
John leads a division with about 170 employees—teams of professionals and investigators who are peace officers, auditors, attorneys, and paraprofessionals. CID’s mission is to conduct criminal investigations to detect noncompliance and evasion of New York State taxes. This is accomplished by a regulatory and investigative approach aimed at increasing voluntary compliance and confidence in the fairness of the tax system.
Career background: John brings more than two decades of experience leading criminal prosecutions and investigations. During his distinguished career, he’s worked for the NYS Police, NYS Office of the Attorney General, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, and in the private sector.
Before joining us, he worked at the NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) where he supervised attorneys responsible for educating and advising public officials and state employees, as well as lobbyists and their clients, to ensure compliance with the NYS Public Officers Law and the Lobby Act. He also advised the investigations and enforcement unit, and assisted with legislative, regulatory, and litigation issues.
Education: He earned his law degree from Boston College Law School in 1993 and graduated cum laude from Rutgers University in May 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science.
Brian Hickey, Deputy Inspector General of Internal Affairs
Brian M. Hickey was appointed Director of the Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) in July 2017.
He oversees an office of about 12 employees, including computer forensic analysts, criminal investigators, and support staff. The office’s high-tech forensics lab was upgraded in 2017 with part of a $750,000 grant, shared with our Criminal Investigations Division, from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
OIA helps ensure that NYS government and its employees meet the highest standards of honesty, accountability, and efficiency. OIA’s dual mission: investigate alleged criminal conduct by employees (fraud, bribery, theft, conflict of interest, etc.); and obstruction of tax administration, including assaults or threats to our employees, identity theft and phishing schemes, contract fraud, or other acts that interfere with our ability to carry out our responsibilities.
Career background: Before joining us, he worked in federal law enforcement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General, including two years as Acting Deputy Inspector General for Investigations in Washington, D.C.; 10 years as the Special Agent in Charge for the Northeastern Region, covering New Jersey, New York, and the six New England states; and 12 years as a Special Agent.
His award-winning work included leading investigations that uncovered millions in civil and criminal fraud and abuse in programs and operations.
Education: He earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Old Westbury, attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and completed American University's Key Executive Leadership Certificate Programs.
Christopher Meislahn, Taxpayer Rights Advocate
Christopher Meislahn was appointed Taxpayer Rights Advocate in September 2022.
He oversees the Office of Taxpayer Rights Advocate (OTRA), which has about seven employees.
OTRA helps taxpayers or their representatives who have been unable to resolve tax problems through the department’s standard channels. The office also identifies opportunities to improve procedures and recommends legislative and regulatory reform to enhance tax administration and ensure compliance with the NYS Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.
Career background: Chris most recently served for four years as director of OTRA, helping to ensure that issues raised were addressed in an effective and timely fashion by working with offices throughout the department.
He began his career here in 2006 as an auditor, handling cases ranging from sales tax to the highway use tax. From 2012 to 2018, he worked with regional offices on audit selection, case management, and legal updates for transaction taxes.
Education: He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Sage College of Albany.
Eric Mostert, First Fiscal Officer of Budget and Management Analysis
Eric Mostert was appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in May 2011, and for two years simultaneously served as the Acting NYS Treasurer.
He oversees our $465 million budget and the Operations Support Bureau’s 100 employees, whose work includes accounting services, procurement, large-scale printing and mailing, office moves and building maintenance, and management analysis and project services. In May 2019, the State Academy for Public Administration honored him with its Public Service Individual Excellence Award.
Career background: Before his appointment as CFO, he served for six years as the department’s Budget Director.
He joined us in 2005 as the Assistant Director of Budget and Accounting Services after an eight-year stint at the NYS Division of Budget, where he rose from Public Management intern to Associate Budget Examiner. He also worked for about a year combined in the NYS Legislature and the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations.
Education: Eric earned a master’s degree in public administration from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany and a bachelor’s degree from Plattsburgh State University.
Jennifer Murphy, Director of the Bureau of Conciliation and Mediation Services
Jennifer A. Murphy was appointed Director of the Bureau of Conciliation and Mediation Services (BCMS) in August 2019 after serving almost 20 years as an attorney in our Office of Counsel.
The bureau of over 40 employees resolves taxpayer disputes in an informal setting and was legislatively created to promote increased fairness, efficiency, and accessibility for taxpayers. The bureau’s conferees meet with taxpayers, their representatives, and Tax Department advocates to achieve resolutions in cases involving all tax types.
Career background: Jennifer, with experience in litigation, legislation, and e-government initiatives, has handled a range of legal and tax issues.
Education: She earned her law degree cum laude from Albany Law School and a bachelor’s degree cum laude in political science from Siena College.
Michael Ostermann, Director of Internal Audit and Quality Control
Michael Ostermann was appointed Director of the Bureau of Internal Audit and Quality Control (BIAQC) in May 2023 after serving for about three years there as assistant director.
The BIAQC’s mission is to objectively examine, review, appraise, and recommend improvements to the department’s operations.
Career background: Before joining the Tax Department, Michael worked for more than 22 years in the internal audit units at the former NYS Division of Parole and Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, where he rose from staff auditor to deputy director. Before his state service, he worked in the General Electric Company’s Government Accounting and Corporate Contract Accounting divisions. He also served for four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Education: He earned a bachelor of arts degree from the State University at Albany.