Tax collector

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A tax collector at work – from an illustration by Henry Holiday in Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark (1876).

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.[citation needed]

Historical tax collectors[edit]

Tax collectors in the Bible[edit]

Tax collectors, also known as publicans, are mentioned many times in the Bible (mainly in the New Testament). They were working for tax farmers. They are generally described as being greedy, and taking more money than they are entitled to. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus sympathises 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.[1]

Other historical tax collectors[edit]

Modern tax collection agencies[edit]

National tax collection agencies include the Canada Revenue Agency, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK (merged from Inland Revenue and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise), or the Australian Taxation Office.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Saint Peter (Chrysologus, Archbishop of Ravenna) (1987). Sermons 28-62 bis. Fundació Bernat Metge. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-84-7225-384-1. Retrieved 7 April 2013.