Michael R. Schmidt, Commissioner
Michael R. Schmidt is the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. He was nominated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on January 6, 2019, and confirmed by the New York State Senate on June 20, 2019.
With over 3,700 employees, the department’s mission is to efficiently collect tax revenues in support of state services and programs while acting with integrity and fairness in the administration of the tax laws of New York State. To that end, the department promulgates tax regulations; publishes forms, instructions, and guidance; engages in taxpayer outreach and education; processes tax returns; resolves taxpayer errors and protests; conducts audits; engages in civil and criminal enforcement activities; litigates tax disputes; and manages the state treasury.
Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Mr. Schmidt served as Senior Economic Advisor to the Governor, overseeing key economic policy initiatives for New York State. In this role, he helped spearhead the State’s response to the federal tax law enacted in 2017, leading a team of public servants that was awarded the State Academy for Public Administration Public Service Excellence Award for its efforts. He joined New York State government in 2017 as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development, where he oversaw policy and operations for 12 state agencies and authorities, including the Department of Taxation and Finance, Empire State Development, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and the Department of State.
Mr. Schmidt previously served as an economic policy advisor to Secretary Hillary Clinton, in which capacity he worked on a range of economic policy issues; a policy analyst in the Office of Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he helped reform U.S. financial regulation in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis; and a senior financial analyst at the Yale Investments Office. A lifelong New Yorker, Mr. Schmidt earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, where he served as an Articles Editor on the Yale Law Journal.
Andrew D. Morris, Executive Deputy Commissioner
Andy Morris was appointed Executive Deputy Commissioner on March 6, 2019. He has nearly three decades of wide-ranging and award-winning experience here. His previous executive positions include serving as the director in the following divisions and bureaus: the Office of Processing and Taxpayer Services, the Tax Processing Division, Business Tax Processing Bureau, Personal Income Tax Processing Bureau, Systems Analysis and Testing Bureau, and the Revenue Services Bureau.
During his career, he helped establish and boost the use of electronic filing and payments; implemented advanced document, tax return, and payment processing technologies; and led cost-savings initiatives.
In May 2017, the New York State Academy for Public Administration honored him with its Public Service Excellence Award.
Before joining the Tax Department, Andy worked in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury, where he began his career as a Presidential Management Fellow.
He earned a master of public administration degree at The George Washington University and a bachelor's degree at Siena College. He has also pursued executive education at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School.
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.
Christopher Curtis, State Treasurer
Chris Curtis was appointed Deputy Commissioner and State Treasurer for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance in May 2016.
Chris leads the nearly 30-employee division that shares joint custody of the state’s general checking account with the NYS Office of the State Comptroller. Treasury safeguards the billions that flow through the account to fund state operations. Among other responsibilities, Treasury stops millions in fraudulent refund checks; reissues, prints, and mails thousands of replacement checks; manages and invests billions for nearly 20 state authorities and agencies; sorts and distributes paper paychecks for state employees; and sells more than $1 billion in cigarette tax stamps annually to authorized agents.
Career background: Prior to his appointment as Treasurer, Chris served as Deputy State Treasurer for two years. Before arriving here, he worked at the New York State Division of Budget for eight years managing state debt, and served on the team that helped the state contend with the national financial crisis that began to unfold in late 2007.
He began his career at the United States Department of the Treasury as a financial economist focused on federal loan guarantee programs.
Education: He earned a master’s degree in political economy from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Siena College.
Valerie DeBerry, Chief Human Resources Officer
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 Chief Human Resources Officer, Valerie oversees about 50 employees in the following bureaus: Human Resources, Personnel Services, Employee Benefits/Payroll Services, Labor Relations, Diversity & Inclusion, and Training Resources.
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.
Darren Dopp, Director of External Affairs
Darren, who joined us in January 2020, works closely with the executive team on strategic priorities and the coordination of communications and governmental relations.
Career background: He has broad experience in the public and private sector. He most recently served as Senior Vice President 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.
Judith Farnan-Farago, Directory of Internal Audit and Quality Control
Judith Farnan-Farago was appointed Director of the Bureau of Internal Audit and Quality Control in June 2018 after serving nine years as the bureau’s Audit Supervisor and Manager.
The bureau of about six employees she leads serves management by providing an objective review of an office’s operations to add value and improve processes. The bureau uses a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluate and enhance risk management, control, and governance.
Career background: Judy joined us in April 1999 as a Fiscal Systems Auditor. Before then, she was employed as a banking officer and financial analyst with KeyCorp affiliates, Key Bank N.A. and Key Services Corporation.
Education: She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College and a master’s degree in accountancy from the State University of New York Institute of Technology. She is a Certified Internal Auditor and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.
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.
Amanda Hiller, Deputy Commissioner and Counsel
Amanda Hiller was appointed Deputy Commissioner and Counsel in December 2012.
She’s responsible for legal policy and matters of law for the department. She oversees about 75 employees in the Office of Counsel, which provides legal services to and on behalf of the department. These services include litigation; internal and external Tax Law advice; the preparation and review of legislation; and ones related to employment, procurement, and other administrative matters.
Career background: Before joining us, Amanda worked in the Department of State as Special Counsel and as Deputy Secretary of State. She also served as an Assistant Counsel to the Governor.
She began her career in state government in 1988, holding positions in the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, as well as in the nonprofit sector.
Education: She earned her law degree from Albany Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Oswego.
Jennifer McCormick, Assistant Commissioner for Taxpayer Communication and Customer Service
Jen McCormick joined us as Assistant Commissioner for Taxpayer Communications and Customer Experience in December 2019, after serving five years as First Deputy Commissioner at the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.
Career background: She has worked in state government for over 25 years, starting here in the Office of Tax Policy Analysis in the early 90s. She has worked for the New York State Senate, the Office of the State Comptroller, and at several state agencies including the Executive Chamber.
Education: She earned a bachelor’s degree in social justice from SUNY Empire State College and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree in public finance from SUNY Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
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.
Jenifer 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 Departmentadvocates 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.
Margaret Neri, Deputy Commissioner and Ethics Officer of Taxpayer Rights Advocate and Ethics
Margaret “Peg” Neri was appointed Deputy Commissioner and Taxpayer Rights Advocate in July 2014.
She oversees the Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate (OTRA), which has about 10 employees, and serves as our Ethics Officer.
OTRA acts as a mediator between the department and taxpayers unable to resolve issues through our standard channels. In addition, OTRA identifies opportunities to improve procedures and recommends legislative and regulatory changes to improve tax administration. As Ethics Officer, Peg provides training and guidance to department employees.
Career background: Peg joined us in October 1998 as a litigator in the Office of Counsel and was named Ethics Officer in May 2013.
Before then, she was a private-practice attorney focused on hospital finance, health care, and judgment enforcement. She also served as a law guardian in Family Court.
Education: Peg earned her law degree from Albany Law School in 1982 and bachelor’s degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx in 1979.
Argi O’Leary, Deputy Commissioner of Civil Enforcement Division and Professional Responsibility
Argi O’Leary was appointed Deputy Commissioner for the Civil Enforcement Division in June 2014 after joining the department in January 2012 as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Litigation Strategy.
In addition to overseeing a staff of about 675 employees engaged in collecting tax debt, Argi also manages the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which regulates nearly 40,000 registered tax return preparers and facilitators.
Career background: Before joining us, she was in private practice with the New York City law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. She also served as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office and as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas C. Platt, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Education: She earned her law degree cum laude from the Fordham University School of Law, and a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Boston College.
Scott Palladino, Deputy Commissioner of Tax Policy Analysis
Scott Palladino was appointed Deputy Commissioner for Tax Policy Analysis in February 2018 after serving seven years as Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Tax Policy Analysis.
He oversees about 150 employees in the Office of Tax Policy Analysis (OTPA), which is responsible for developing and evaluating tax policy; revenue forecasting and estimation; development and maintenance of our taxpayer guidance, including forms, publications, public website content, and other programs to enhance taxpayer education and voluntary compliance. Scott also oversees legislative initiatives and communication with the State Legislature.
Career background: Before joining us in 2011, Scott served as Legislative and Community Aide to a Brooklyn Assemblywoman, a Senior Policy Analyst for the National Governor’s Association (NGA) in Washington, D.C., and as the Deputy Director for Fiscal Studies for the NYS Assembly Committee on Ways and Means.
Education: He earned a master’s degree in Economics (cum laude) at the State University at Albany in 1996 and a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management at Baruch College in 1987.
Michael Shollar, Deputy Commissioner of Processing and Taxpayer Services
Michael Shollar was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Processing and Taxpayer Services in March 2019.
In this role, he oversees a total of 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 annually; the Consolidated Contact Center Division, which handles incoming calls for us and more than a dozen other state agencies; and the Office of Real Property Tax Services, which oversees the administration of more than $50 billion annually in real property taxes.
Career background: Michael joined us in June 2015 after being appointed Special Counsel for Ethics, Risk, and Compliance, responsible for directing our Office of Risk Management.
Before then, he was an Assistant District Attorney for 10 years at 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, where he was a senior articles editor on the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of Rochester in 2001.