A tax collector is a person who collects unpaid taxes from other people or corporations. Tax collectors are often portrayed in fiction as being evil, and in the modern world share a similar stereotype to that of lawyers.
Tax collectors, also known as publicans, are mentioned many times in the Bible (mainly in the New Testament). They were reviled by the Jews of Jesus' day because of their greed and collaboration with the Roman occupiers. Tax collectors amassed personal wealth by demanding tax payments in excess of what Rome levied and keeping the difference. They worked for tax farmers. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus sympathizes with the tax collector Zacchaeus, causing outrage from the crowds that Jesus would rather be the guest of a sinner than of a more respectable or "righteous" person. Saint Matthew in the New Testament was a tax collector.