Apparently the latest official estimate is that the annual amount of uncollected tax in the UK is about £35 billion. The figures are for 2009/10 and represent a reduction from the previous year but it is still a staggeringly large amount. Of course this is an estimate, how can you actually know the amount since it is unpaid or undeclared, nevertheless the same method for assessing the amount has been employed by HMRC for many years. HMRC explains that the reason for the reduction is largely accounted for by the reduction in VAT during the period being assessed. In other words, it was not that more tax was recovered but that less was owed.
So it occurred to me that as we celebrate St Matthew today perhaps we ought to call people to become tax collectors so we can recover some of this money and that might go some way to addressing the huge financial mess we find ourselves in.
Anyway, I found today's collect for St Matthew challenging:
O Almighty God,
whose blessed Son called Matthew the tax collector
to be an apostle and evangelist:
give us grace to forsake the selfish pursuit of gain
and the possessive love of riches
that we may follow in the way of your Son Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.